Public relations specialists find employment with independent advertising and public relations agencies, as well as with in-house PR and marketing departments in private businesses and government organizations. PR specialists usually have at least a bachelor's degree, and typically receive additional training on the job once they're hired. The average rate of pay for public relations specialists varies by where they work and who they work for.
National Pay by the Hour
In March 2012, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that public relations specialists earned an average hourly pay rate of $29.80, the equivalent of earning $61,980 per year. The wage rates for half of the public relations specialists working in the United States in 2012 ranged from $19.27 per hour to $35.63 per hour. The lowest-paid 10 percent brought home $14.79 or less an hour, and the highest-paid 10 percent made $48.57 or more.
Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, West Lead Compensation
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, public relations specialists working in the Northeast, West and Mid-Atlantic states tend to earn the highest average rates of pay, while pay rates in the Southeast lag behind other regions of the country. The District of Columbia reported the highest average wage for PR specialists in 2012, $44.30 an hour. California ranked second at $35.48, followed by Virginia at $33.90, Maryland at $33.39 and Arizona at $32.81. Mississippi reported the lowest average wage for this occupation, $18.79 an hour.
Government Vs. Private Sector Rates
The federal government paid public relations specialists higher average wages than any other type of employer in 2012, an average of $42.30 an hour. However, those working for local governments tended to earn less than many in the private sector, averaging $27.21 an hour, while those working for state government agencies earned even less at $24.64 per hour. Independent ad and public relations agencies paid an average of $35.92 an hour, while business and political organizations paid public relations specialists an average hourly rate of $30.42.
A Competitive Field
The job outlook for public relations specialists is relatively good. While the BLS expects the number of jobs in the United States to grow about 14 percent from 2010 to 2020, public relations positions are projected to grow 23 percent. However, many applicants are attracted to these relatively high-paying jobs. Therefore, the BLS expects aspiring public relations specialists to face strong competition for entry-level jobs in the field.