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Major in Speech

Article by Rachelle Wiggins

“To …felicitously communicate requires that one’s mind not be a blank slate but already properly formed, disciplined and exercised.” ~Gregory B. Sadler

Have you ever heard of glossophobia? It is the fear of public speaking and affects an estimated 75% of Americans. In fact, fear of public speaking is our number one fear, surpassing even fear of loneliness and death! However, speech is also a college major chosen by many with the potential of opening doors into amazing career opportunities in a wide variety of fields, from education to business to government to broadcasting to journalism to politics to ministry to marketing to social services.

Speech, as a major, takes an in-depth, critical look at human communication in a variety of formats, medias and contexts. It is a broad-based liberal arts major that hones your communication and interpersonal skills. In this program you will sharpen your public speaking, form effective thought, write organized speeches, learn to tell captivating stories, conduct thorough research, understand how to tailor your messages for specific audiences, and develop and give persuasive arguments. Upon completion of this interdisciplinary major, you will not only gain something meaningful to say, you will be able to say it clearly, concisely and compellingly.

So beyond strong communication skills—written, verbal, etc.—what other skills and traits are necessary for success in this major? People skills and the ability to be a team player are definitely important as you will work in group settings and need to communicate effectively with diverse populations and to correctly “read” your changing audience. It is also vital that you be flexible and able to think, speak and act on your toes. Confidence and decisiveness are definitely valuable traits in this major! You will also find it helpful to possess creativity, time management and keen critical thinking and problem-solving skills. In addition, it is an asset to be the kind of learner who stays attuned to current world events and cultural shifts.

While completing core classes in the humanities and STEM areas, you can expect to take plenty of courses focused on the principles and practices of speech and public speaking. These classes will cover topics such as rhetoric, voice diction, persuasive speaking, acting and recitation. Depending on your desired career goals, you may use your electives to branch into specific areas of interest such as theater, business, politics or government. Some of the specific speech-related classes you might take include:

  • Creative Writing
  • Debate and Argumentation
  • Oral Interpretation
  • Interpersonal Communication
  • Nonverbal Communication

Some students find a speech major to be a great stepping stone into ongoing learning and eventually obtain a master’s degree in a medically related area such as speech therapy or speech pathology. Other common outcomes include advanced degrees in law or counseling. But a bachelor’s degree in speech qualifies you for a whole host of career opportunities such as:

  • Actor
  • Speech writer
  • Lobbyist
  • Radio or TV announcer
  • Negotiator/mediator
  • Public relations specialist
  • News reporter
  • TV/movie/stage director
  • Grant proposal writer
  • Journalist
  • Press secretary
  • Editor, writer or copy editor

Speech is a wise degree choice in that it prepares you for far-ranging employment prospects. While some shy away from public speaking and the spotlight, others are created for that very place! Maybe you are one who shines brightly when given the chance to communicate in front of an audience. If this description sparks something in you, then maybe God is calling you to step into speech as your college major!

 

A future in Speech

By Jennifer Bailey

Nearly every career requires excellent communication in writing and speaking. Agility and adaptability in communication are important to clearly share a vision to others no matter the issue or cause.

A degree in speech prepares you for a wide variety of career possibilities. Employers highly value solid communication skills in their employees. Businesses rely on people who represent them in presentations, on the phone, in front of clients and customers and in the media. Excellent and effective corporate communications, marketing and public relations are vital to the success of any business.

Speech majors can find jobs in many different fields, including speech-language pathology, journalism and public relations. Speech-language pathologists work with people who have physical problems speaking. Journalists need excellent communication skills in order to create both written news stories and scripts for live TV. Public relations managers work directly with people and need great speech skills so they can think, act and talk off the cuff while managing an employer's public image.

Speech majors learn excellent verbal communication and critical thinking skills that are required in many fields, such as law, public relations, writing, education, business, health, government, sales and human resources. Specific jobs available to you with a bachelor's degree in speech include a broad range of professions including acting, political campaigner, speech writer, labor relations specialist, public relations officer or even as a trainer who helps others to improve their own public speaking abilities. You might also consider pursuing a career in advertising sales. All of these professions involve effectively delivering information to large audiences.

So, do you love to analyze topics and express ideas? Are you naturally curious? Are you outgoing and well spoken? Do you enjoy writing and are you good at articulating your thoughts on paper and verbally? Can you work with a diverse team of people and are you a problem solver? Do you like the idea of shaping public perceptions?  It is important to be a critical thinker, a problem solver and have logical reasoning skills as these are all necessary traits for a person in this career field.

A bachelor's degree in speech is essential in pursuing most careers including law, business, education, journalism or writing. An advanced degree will open even more jobs to you, such as lawyer, judge, executive officer, newscaster, professor and advertising director.

This program focuses on the scientific, humanistic and critical study of human communication in a variety of formats, media and contexts. It includes instruction in the theory and practice of interpersonal, group, organizational, professional and intercultural communication; speaking and listening; verbal and nonverbal interaction; argumentation and persuasion; technological communication; popular culture and various other applications. You will also take courses in psychology, human behavior and business administration, office management, political science and marketing topics. Regardless of completed coursework, college graduates generally also complete some on-the-job training or internships to develop excellent writing skills, learn to work well on a team, develop a portfolio of writing samples and ad campaigns and gain experience with conflict resolution techniques.