It’s official: you can now get a degree for that social media job.

Many schools now offer Communication degrees specializing in Social Media. This offering reflects the effect that social media has in our lives and how much impact tools like Twitter and Facebook have on the business world.

If you’re interested in a career in social media, you might find that wading into these uncharted waters can be a bit daunting. So here are a few tips to help get you on the right track for a career in social media, with or without that degree.

Establish an Online Presence

Having a presence online is priority number one.

If people don’t see that you live and breathe the Internet and social media, then they’ll wonder about your commitment to a social media job that involves being online all day. For many employers, the first place they start looking for a social media guru is on social media sites. Sign up for accounts on as many social media platforms as possible and start building a following on each.

Think of each social media account as a resume. You want to showcase your skills in everything from analysis to publishing to promoting products and services.

Chances are good that a strong presence in social media will have employers calling you. You’ll be able to link to all of your accounts when you advertise your resume on job search engines, which will prove to anyone who views your profile that you know exactly what you are doing.

Do it All

Sure, Facebook and Twitter are at the top of the social media heap, but they aren’t the only platforms out there.

In a business where the dominant players can change almost overnight, employers want to see that you can master any platform and make it work to your (and their) advantage. So, sign up for all (or at least many) of the social platforms and work hard to learn the pros, cons, foibles, and flairs of each.

Be Professional

You need to keep your accounts professional and avoid personal or offensive material that would reflect poorly on you or your potential employer. That may mean that you need to manage a professional account separate from a personal account – perhaps even using a pseudonym – that your friends connect to. Make a good first impression and don’t give the employer a reason to worry about what you might post on the company profile.

Do Pro Bono Work

You need commercial experience to get hired and the only way to find it is to volunteer your services for non-profits, charities, local businesses, etc.

Do a great job with a small local account to prove that you have the chops to handle a corporate social campaign. The more experience you have under your belt, the more attractive you’ll be to potential employers who prefer a sure thing over a gamble any day of the week.

Learn the Business

This means knowing as much as you can about your potential employer, but it also means knowing as much as possible about social media in general.

You need to know who the major players are, what the technology is and where it is going, how to speak the lingo, and much more. You don’t need to be a super-programmer, but knowing a little HTML, CSS, and/or JavaScript can make you a very attractive candidate. Sites like Skillcrush can help in this area.

Get Started in Your Social Media Job

When it comes to social media, the best advice you can get is to just do it (as Nike would say). You need to build a presence on the Internet and show that you can do the work. More than education, you need experience. Employers want to see that you can do the work, so show them.

About the Author: Angela Forbes works in social media. She enjoys blogging about her experiences in this emerging industry.