Media Studies Careers

The field of media studies examines how news and television affect individuals' daily lives and perceptions of the world. Read on to learn more about the field of media studies, what you can learn in a degree program, potential careers for media studies graduates and salary information. Schools offering Animation degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is Media Studies?

A degree in media studies could prepare you for a variety of careers. Media studies is the field of communication concerned with how newspapers, television, movies and other media deliver messages that could affect consumers and society. Media studies programs may be found in a university's communications, humanities or journalism department. The field is commonly offered at the bachelor's and master's levels. A degree in media studies can provide a foundation for a career as a reporter, lawyer, screenwriter or director.

Becoming a Reporter

As a reporter, you would research newsworthy topics, interview subjects and prepare news reports. Depending on your preference, you could work for a print publication, radio station or TV news provider. Reporters often work as part of a team made up of other reporters, news broadcasters and editors. In order to get a job as a reporter, you need to have a bachelor's degree. Media studies is a relevant undergraduate major for aspiring reporters since it familiarizes students with the media industry and provides extensive writing experience.

Reporter Salary and Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the mean annual salary for reporters and correspondents was $46,560 in 2015. Job opportunities are expected to decline by 8% between 2014 and 2024, due to the rise of social media in information dissemination, which is making it harder for traditional news organizations to sell advertising and forcing them to reduce staff. Consolidation and mergers are also decreasing staffing needs. If you want to start a career in this field, you are most likely to find a job at a small local newspaper, radio station or TV station.

The following table provides more information about working as a reporter:

Degree Required Bachelor's Degree
Key Responsibilities Research stories; conduct interviews; prepare news reports for print, radio or TV
Job Growth (2014-2024) -8% (for reporters and correspondents)*
Mean Salary (2015) $46,560 (for reporters and correspondents)*

*U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Becoming a Screenwriter

A screenwriter specializes in writing scripts for movies or television. Some of them work for specific broadcasting or moviemaking companies, while others work as freelancers, which means that they sell their work directly to showrunners and movie producers. In a job as a screenwriter, you could create an original script, or you could adapt a novel or other existing work for the screen. Most successful screenwriters have at least a bachelor's degree, and choosing a degree in media studies can help you navigate a career in the field. In addition, most media studies programs include a wide range of liberal arts courses, which can help you build your cultural knowledge and writing skills in order to become a successful writer.

Screenwriter Salary and Outlook

The BLS does not report salary information specifically for screenwriters, but it did report that the average salary for all writers and authors was $69,130 in 2015. Job opportunities for writers and authors are expected to grow by 2% from 2014 to 2024, which is slower than the national average for all occupations. As a result, competition is expected to be fierce.

Take a look at the following table to get some more information about working as a screenwriter:

Degree Required Bachelor's Degree
Key Responsibilities Write scripts for television shows or movies; edit drafts; work with directors to get content ready for the screen
Job Growth (2014-2024) 2% (for writers and authors)*
Mean Salary (2015) $69,130 (for writers and authors)*

*U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Becoming a Director

As a director, you would use a writer's script to create movies, television shows, theatrical productions, commercials or other media. You would oversee all aspects of a project from conception to final production. This includes selecting cast members, running rehearsals and assisting with the editing process. A media studies degree can provide the educational foundation you need to become a director, but it is important to note that you will probably need to spend a few years working in a lower-level position in the media industry before taking on a directing job.

Director Salary and Outlook

For the period from 2014 to 2024, the BLS projected the job growth for directors and producers to be 9%, which is faster than the average for all occupations. Opportunities are expected to be especially good for directors who are interested in creating for online media platforms. In 2015, the BLS reported that the mean annual salary for producers and directors was $89,670.

For some basic information about working as a director, look at the following table:

Degree Required Bachelor's Degree
Key Responsibilities Choose scripts to direct; hire cast and crew; direct the activities of cast and crew during production; supervise the post-production process
Job Growth (2014-2024) 9% (for producers and directors)*
Mean Salary (2015) $89,670 (for producers and directors)*

*U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Becoming a Lawyer

A bachelor's degree in media studies would provide you with a broad liberal arts education, which you could use to get into law school. While earning your Juris Doctor (JD) degree, you could build on your knowledge of media studies by taking classes in entertainment law or copyright law, and even explore growing fields like sports law and new media law. From there, you could pursue a legal career in media. Alternatively, if you discover a different area of interest, such as family law or environmental law, you could direct your career toward that subject. Before you can practice, you must pass your state's bar exam.

Lawyer Salary and Outlook

In 2015, the BLS reported that the mean annual wage for practicing lawyers was $136,260. The expected growth rate from 2014 to 2024 is 6%, which is about as fast as the national average for all occupations. You might find a job in a traditional law firm or as an in-house lawyer for a corporation. With a background in media studies, it may be possible to find employment specifically at a media-related company.

The table below provides more information about a career as a lawyer:

Degree Required Juris Doctor (JD)
Key Responsibilities Advise clients on legal matters; represent clients in court; prepare legal documents
Licensure Requirements Must pass state's bar exam
Job Growth (2014-2024) 6%*
Mean Salary (2015) $136,260*

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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