What Does a Public Affairs Specialist (46Q ) Do?

Learn About the Salary, Required Skills, & More

Image shows a woman sitting at a computer and she is in military uniform. Text reads: "A day in the life of a public affairs specialist (46Q): Communicate crisis situations, sometimes take photographs, act as spokesperson, write press releases"

Image by Derek Abella © The Balance 2019

Much like their civilian counterparts act as company representatives to the media, the Army Public Affairs Specialist acts as a liaison between the Army and the press. A background or interest in journalism is extremely useful, and strong communications and writing skills are crucial for soldiers in this job, military occupational specialty (MOS) 46Q.

Public Affairs Specialist (46Q ) Duties & Responsibilities

These soldiers will be responsible for writing and editing news releases, newspaper articles, online articles and other written materials, which could be used either for military or civilian publications. They'll also take photographs when appropriate, to accompany a news article or other writing.

  • MOS 46Q works to develop news articles by either conducting interviews with appropriate people or gathering information from military news programs and publications. Sometimes the information gathering will include more than one of these sources.
  • This job is likely to include crisis communications, which involves dealing with the media during an emergency or other problematic situation.
  • Another important part of this Army job is training other soldiers and officers for speaking to the press, by following protocols and walking them through possible scenarios.
  • MOS 46Q will also act as a spokesperson, developing and maintaining relationships with beat reporters and other members of the media.

Public Affairs Specialist (46Q ) Salary

Total compensation for this position includes food, housing, special pay, medical, and vacation time. If you enlist under certain MOS codes in the Army, you may also be eligible for certain cash bonuses of up to $40,000 if the HR specialist job is considered one of the Army's Jobs in Demand.

You may also be able to earn education benefits, such as scholarships to cover the full cost of tuition, a stipend for living expenses, and money for books and fees.

Education, Training & Certification

Individuals interested in this position must be able to fulfill certain testing, training and other requirements, as follows:

  • Testing: In order to be eligible to serve as an Army Public Affairs Specialist, you'll need a score of 107 the general technical (GT) section of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test.
  • Training: Job training for a public affairs specialist requires ten weeks ofBasic Combat Training and 12 weeks of Advanced Individual Training with on-the-job instruction. Part of this time is spent in the classroom and part in the field, including learning how to write news stories, operate a camera and edit newspapers and photographs, all according to Army style and protocols. You’ll also put together a real newspaper, contributing stories and photographs. Some of the skills you’ll learn in this training if you don't already have them include news, feature and sports writing and research, newspaper design and production, and interviewing techniques.
  • Special tracks: You'll have the opportunity to pursue specific areas of expertise, including photojournalism, public speaking, and media relations. While all of these are parts of MOS 46Q, most soldiers are more suited to one of these tracks than they are to another.
  • Other requirements: You should be able to type 20 words per minute before you begin your training. Since you're likely to be viewing and receiving sensitive information, you'll need to be able to qualify for a secret security clearance, so should have a record free of criminal or drug convictions. You should also expect an investigation of your character and conduct and in some instances mental and emotional stability.

Public Affairs Specialist (46Q ) Skills & Competencies

The following are additional skills, interests, and qualifications that individuals need or could benefit from having in order to perform well in this position:

  • English skills: An interest in English, communications, journalism, photography, and computers
  • Public speaking skills: The ability to speak clearly in front of an audience
  • Detail oriented: The ability to pay attention to, and accurately represent or record, all important details
  • Research skills: Enjoy researching facts and issues for news stories
  • Writing skills: Can write clearly and concisely

Job Outlook

Although jobs in the media are becoming a bit more scarce as newspapers downsize, you'll be well-qualified to work as an editor, photographer, reporter or public relations specialist after you leave the Army. It's worth noting that you'll have expertise that will allow you to write authoritatively about military issues and veterans, which should prove helpful when trying to set yourself apart from journalists with more traditional experience.

Partnership for Youth Success (PaYS) Program

Soldiers interested in working in public affairs outside of the military may be eligible for civilian employment by enrolling in the Army PaYS program. The PaYS program is a recruitment option that guarantees a job interview with military friendly employers that are looking for experienced and trained Veterans to join their organization. You can find out more online at the Army PaYS Program site. The following are some of the companies that participate in the program:

  • AT&T, Inc.
  • Hewlett-Packard Company
  • Kraft Foods Global, Inc.
  • Sears Holdings Corporation
  • Time Customer Service, Inc.
  • Walgreen Co.

Work Environment

The job of a radio operator-maintainer is typically performed in an office environment and can be located either on land or aboard a ship.

Work Schedule

This position typically has a full-time work schedule.

How to Get the Job


Complete Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training.



Take the ASVAB Test and achieve the appropriate ASVAB Score of 107 for the general technical (GT) section.



Make sure that you can meet any additional requirements, such as a background investigation, secret security clearance, and physical strength requirements

Comparing Similar Jobs

Civilian jobs that have similar job duties are as follows, along with their annual salaries:

  • Public relations specialist: $60,000
  • Advertising & sales agent: $51,740
  • Public Relations and Fundraising Managers: $114,800