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How Do I Become a Chief Communications Officer?

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  • Written By: Terry Masters
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 01 May 2019
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You can become a chief communications officer (CCO) by obtaining a bachelor's degree in a communications or marketing and gaining five to ten years of experience working in the field. Some larger companies may expect a master's degree in business or in another major that relates to a communications function, such as journalism or writing. The position often functions as the spokesperson for a company or organization with outside constituencies, so a certain level of personal deportment and a number of related soft skills are expected of an ideal candidate.

The basic educational credential you will need to become a chief communications officer is an undergraduate degree in an appropriate field. Many colleges and universities have a school of communications that offers majors in a variety of disciplines. You can also major in something that uses communications skills, such as marketing, journalism, or creative writing, since the main purpose of the educational credential is to demonstrate strong written and verbal skills.

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Further requirements to become a chief communications officer depend upon the size of the company or organization you are targeting as an employer. A large corporation often requires seven to ten years of increasing responsibility in a communications department before you will be considered for the CCO position. To become a chief communications officer in this situation, you start as a communications assistant and work your way up, obtaining an advanced degree along the way. Lateral moves to arm yourself with increasing levels of responsibility will often be necessary, as it is unlikely you will be able to stay at one company for the duration of your career.

Five to seven years of experience is often sufficient to become a chief communications officer of a smaller company or a start-up. You can often parlay two or more years as a CCO at a smaller company into a position at a larger company, cutting down the number of years needed in the field. A shorter amount of time spent in this title can weigh more heavily in your favor than more time spent in a lesser title, even if the work is less complex.

To become a chief communications officer, you must also hone your leadership and presentation skills. The CCO is the spokesperson for the company, and your resume has to demonstrate an ability to speak publicly and to comport yourself with professionalism at all times. It is often helpful to become involved with trade associations in the communications industry. Contributing to the industry in a leadership capacity and becoming known as an expert in the field will further your candidacy significantly.

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