Public relations professionals work to ensure that their clients look good in the public eye. In this job you might serve as the spokesperson for a company or brand, write press releases and maintain and protect a company's image in ways that often dovetail with advertising. In fact, public relations professionals are frequently employed by ad agencies. Public relations professionals usually have a bachelor's degree in public relations, marketing, communications, journalism, English or a related discipline. With several years of experience, PR specialists can be promoted to management and average six-figure salaries.
Public Relations Specialists
As of 2012, public relations specialists earned an average annual salary of $61,980, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Half of PR specialists earned between $40,080 and $74,110 per year. The highest-paid 10 percent made $101,030 or more. Those working for advertising agencies and PR firms earned a relatively high average yearly salary of $74,720, although the very highest average salary -- $87,990 a year -- was reported by PR specialists working directly for the federal government.
Public Relations Managers
PR managers reported an average salary of $108,260 per year to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2012. Half of public relations managers in the United States reported annual salaries ranging from $69,520 to $134,690. The top 10 percent of earners made $180,480 or more. PR managers working for public relations and advertising firms averaged $128,050 per year. The very highest-paid were those working directly for wireless telecommunications carriers, who averaged $173,720 per year.
Geographical Pay Differences
The highest-paying areas of the country for public relations specialists and managers are the Northeast and the West, according to the BLS, while the lowest pay tends to occur in the Southeast. Cost of living variations account for part of the differences in pay between different regions of the country. Because they are so highly paid by the federal government, public relations specialists working in Washington, D.C. reported the highest average pay among states and special districts in 2012, at $92,150 per year. California ranked second with an average salary of $73,790 for PR specialists. Public relations managers made the most in Delaware at an average of $142,850 a year and New York at an average of $139,470.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for public relations workers is expected to be pretty strong between 2010 and 2020. Jobs for PR specialists are expected to grow by 23 percent during the decade, while jobs for PR managers are expected to grow by 16 percent. This compares to a 14 percent projected growth rate for all occupations. Because of the high pay, however, the BLS cautions applicants to expect strong competition for open positions.