NCA Career Center

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The challenges of pursuing and securing an academic position in Communication can be overwhelming. NCA's Career Center provides a range of data and materials about the contemporary academic job market and advice and resources for those engaged in the job search process.



The academic job market is complicated and ever-changing. NCA has gathered data, information, and resources about the academic job market generally and the job market in Communication specifically, to assist job seekers and job providers. Here you'll find information about the number of Ph.D.s produced in Communication, data about job positions in Communication, tenure-track vs. non tenure-track academic positions, academic salaries, and resources and other information sources.

Number of Ph.D.s Produced in Communication

Graph showing number of PhDs between 2010 and 2019

Source: NSF, 2018 SED - From the National Science Foundation's Survey of Earned Doctorates. The NSF reports separate figures for earned doctorates in Communication (including the subcategories of Communication Research, Communication Theory, Mass Communication/Media Studies, Film/Radio/TV/Digital Media, and Communication/General).

Job Positions Data

NCA annually tracks the job postings submitted to COMMNotes, the NCA online Career Center, and NCA's online magazine Spectra. The chart below reports the total number of job postings by year for 2009-2020. The figures reported are for discrete job postings and control for duplication.

Graph showing number of positions advertised with NCA, 2009-2020

NCA conducts extensive analyses of job postings in Communication. NCA also reports on job listings data each year:

There is much discussion in the news media and elsewhere about the decline in academic jobs across the humanities and social sciences. NCA has analyzed the job postings data from several related disciplines to determine how the Communication job market compares:

Graph showing job postings in related disciplines

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics also maintains employment data for numerous sectors of the economy, including “Communications Teachers, Postsecondary." This employment category includes individuals who “teach courses in communications, such as organizational communications, public relations, radio/television broadcasting, and journalism. Includes both teachers primarily engaged in teaching and those who do a combination of teaching and research.”

  • Number of individuals employed nationally in this category, May 2020: 28,430
  • Mean annual wage, May 2020: $80,940
  • Individuals employed in College, Universities, and Professional Schools, May 2020: 20,990
  • Individuals employed in Junior Colleges, May 2020: 7,370
  • Top five states for postsecondary Communications Teachers employment, May 2020: New York, Texas, California, Illinois, and Pennsylvania
  • Top five metropolitan areas for postsecondary Communications Teachers employment, May 2020: New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC

Tenure-Track vs. Non Tenure-Track Teaching

The NCA 2019-2020 Academic Job Listings in Communication Report shows that 59 percent of the 2019-2020 job postings sought individuals for tenured or tenure track positions. The largest number of position postings were for tenure-track assistant professor positions. Given the growing interest in work outside of academia, it is unsurprising that 7 percent of the positions posted were for non-academic positions, an increase over the previous year.

Graph showing tenure vs. non-tenure track teaching


Academic Salaries

The 2017–2018 Faculty in Higher Education Survey, conducted by The College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR), contains detailed aggregate salary information for 162,8181 full-time tenured and tenure-track faculty representing 696 institutions and 34 academic disciplines. The chart below compares tenured and tenure-track faculty salaries by rank and discipline for Communication and similar disciplines. 

Salary information for tenured and tenure-track faculty

The report also provides detailed aggregate salary information for faculty from 696 institutions for 63,980 full-time, non-tenure-track faculty. These data reflect salary information for non-tenure teaching faculty, specifically instructors, in Communication and similar disciplines.

Aggregate salary information in Communication and similar disciplines


NCA Prep Talks

NCA compiles tools and resources to support your career development, whether you are just starting out in academia or a seasoned scholar looking for new opportunities. Department heads, experienced job seekers, and employers offer insights and expertise on the hiring process, including tips for CVs and cover letters, interviewing techniques, and related information. In addition, tenured faculty offer advice for professional development. These are the three most recent PrepTalks from the NCA Annual Convention. Below you'll find past PrepTalks on a variety of topics.




Insights and expertise on the hiring process:

Getting the Most from Your Graduate Education in Communication: A Student’s Handbook
More than 35 Communication scholars lend their insight and advice to this graduate school survival guide. Featuring chapters on finding the right program, completing your thesis, getting published, and finding your first job, this handbook is a must for anyone considering pursuing a graduate degree in Communication.

Professional Development During Your Doctoral Education
This informal introduction to professional development is designed for doctoral students in Communication. Addressing several issues involved with career development, the booklet is a primer to graduate school and helps one prepare for conversations and questions with faculty throughout one’s graduate education.