If you are interested in a career in private business, the importance of being able to communicate clearly with others cannot be overemphasized. Even if you possess the technical skills necessary to perform a given job, your career development will suffer if you are unable to express yourself effectively, to follow oral directions accurately, and to resolve interpersonal conflict readily. This was echoed in a survey conducted by two business administration professors (Rader & Wunsch, Journal of Business Communication, 17, 1980) who noted that 90% of their respondents testified, "that the ability to communicate orally was very important."
Oral communication has long been our main method for communicating with one another. It is estimated that 75 percent of a person’s day is spent communicating in some way. Not only do we spend considerable time communicating, communication skills also are essential to personal, academic, and professional success. In a report on fastest growing careers, the U.S. Department of Labor states that communication skills will be in demand across occupations well into the next century (US Dept. of Labor, 1995). In a national survey of 1000 human resource managers, oral communication skills are identified as valuable for both obtaining employment and successful job performance (Winsor, et al., 1997). Executives with Fortune 500 companies indicate that college students need better communication skills, as well as the ability to work in teams and with people from diverse backgrounds (Association Trends, 1997). Case studies of high-wage companies also state that essential skills for future workers include problem solving, working in groups, and the ability to communicate effectively (Murane & Levy, 1996). When 1000 faculty members from a cross section of disciplines were asked to identify basic competencies for every college graduate, skills in communicating topped the list (Diamond, 1997). Even an economics professor states that, “. . . we are living in a communications revolution comparable to the invention of printing . . . In an age of increasing talk, it’s wiser talk we need most. Communication studies might well be central to colleges and universities in the 21st century” (McCloskey, 1993).
As a subject for academic study, communication bridges the humanities and the social sciences. It focuses on relationships--personal, group and societal--and the factors and process, which affect those important relationships. Friendships and families, business relationships and political systems, cultural interaction and technological advances all are important areas of study in communication.
Communication students may concern themselves with the dynamics of interpersonal persuasion, the effects of media technologies, the nature of gender stereotypes, the function of roles within the family, the structure of organizational authority, the influence of cultural myths, the impact of social movements, and the history of rhetoric. Because we pursue so many diverse interests, there is a place for anyone with a genuine curiosity about human communication and its effect upon our daily lives.
Over the past few decades, communication has emerged as one of the most pragmatic degrees available. While current state-of-the-art technical training may become obsolete within a few years, there will always be a need for effective communicators. Majoring in communication prepares you to enter professional programs with valuable and needed, but seldom taught, skills.