How to Become a Journalist
Journalists write articles and reports for newspapers, magazine, and online media outlets. They also write and present reports for news programs on television. If you enjoy writing, have a natural curiosity about people and events, and like getting to the source of problems, then you will likely enjoy working as a journalist.
When you become a journalist you will need to be a naturally creative person. You'll also need to be tough, and have a strong work ethic. Journalism can be a competitive field, not just in getting your start, but also once you are working. Competing networks and newspapers are often working against each other to get the scoop on a particular story.
Education Requirements to Become a Journalist
To become a journalist, you'll need to get a college degree in this field. You can attend a specialist journalism school, or complete a four year bachelors degree with a major in journalism. Another option is to complete a degree in writing or english. You may be able to secure a job with this degree alone, or need to complete a postgraduate qualification in journalism.
To get work in journalism, you need to build up your portfolio, or clippings. If you have a school or college newspaper, volunteer to start writing for them and start building your work. Writing for street magazines is also a good way to get experience. You may also want to volunteer your time for non-profit organizations. At this early stage of your career, experience is everything. Starting a blog on a topic you are interested in is another good way to get your name out there.
Completing internships is essential, try and complete summer work with well regarded newspapers or magazines. This will help you to meet people in the industry, and start gaining practical experience.
It's also possible to gain paid freelance work while still at college. Familiarize yourself with journalism and freelance writing job boards, there are many jobs on here which will give you the opportunity to earn some money and also gain valuable experience.
Journalist Job Description
A journalist writes reports and articles on a wide range of topics. There is much more to this role than writing, you must also spend time finding things to write about, and then researching and understanding them well. Journalists work with strict deadlines, if an important event or story happens, you'll be expected to come in and work, no matter what time of day. Here are some of the tasks a journalist may find part of their job description:
- Writing articles and reports
- Editing written work
- Researching stories
- Interviewing people
- Looking for leads on new stories
- Communicating with editors and coworkers
- Meeting deadlines
Some journalists go on to specialize in specific areas. Some may work as profile writers, interviewing celebrities and other people of interest. Some become fashion journalists, while others may only write lifestyle pieces or feature articles. Some journalists become foreign correspondents and work from overseas posts for many years.
Journalism is certainly a career with many different paths that can be taken. It offers many varied tasks and no two days will ever be the same.
Journalist Salary and Career Path
When you begin your career as a journalist, you can expect to be writing the least important parts of a publication, or be working under the supervision of another journalist. With experience, you'll get bigger briefs, be writing features, and eventually be able to source your own work.
Some journalists go on to become freelance writers, editors and sub-editors, or gain work in the publishing industry. Others become teachers and work within colleges. Some move into different areas of media, marketing, and public relations. Here are some other similar careers that may interest you:
When you first become a journalist, you can expect to earn around $30,000 a year, with those with more experience earning closer to the median wage of $45,000. More experienced journalists can earn upwards of $70,000 or more.
For those with a love of writing and an aptitude for research, becoming a journalist will prove a rewarding career. Job prospects are good, and employment is secure. Journalism also offers the option of working freelance later on, or moving into a specialized field.
*Salary Information provided by the Bureau Of Labor Statistics