How Do I Become a Television Journalist?

Research what it takes to become a television journalist. Learn about the degree requirements, job outlook and salary to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Journalism degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is a Television Journalist?

A career as a television journalist lets you write and report news stories to keep the public informed and up-to-date on what is happening around them. Journalists inform the public about news happening both locally as well as around the world. They must possess strong writing, research, and communication skills. They also review articles for accuracy, conduct interviews, and analyze information in a way that audiences can understand. These days, journalists tend to have a strong presence on social media. This helps them communicate immediately with the public about live events, provide the most up-to-date coverage for viewers, and engage directly with their audiences. Formal training through a college or university is typically required. Find out how you can get started in this career by reviewing the information in the table below:

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Journalism, communication, English
Key Skills Research, gather and report on news, sports or entertainment; interview guests for live or taped broadcasts; edit video footage
Job Growth (2014-2024) -9%*
Mean Annual Salary (2015) $46,560*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Does a Television Journalist Do?

As a television journalist, you research, prepare and report stories to a television audience. Job duties include researching and writing stories, interviewing people, observing events, working with a camera crew, traveling and editing videos. You may report the news from the desk of a newsroom or work at the scene of a breaking story. You can work at local stations or national affiliates, and you can typically specialize in a specific type of news, such as sports, celebrity or current events.

What Type of Education and Experience Will I Need?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated that the most common academic standard for television journalists was a bachelor's degree, though master's degree programs are also available (www.bls.gov). Several undergraduate majors prepare you for entry into the industry, such as journalism, broadcasting or mass communications. Programs teach you about how to construct a news story, conduct research and create your own on-screen identity. Some programs provide courses in specific areas, such as sports or political reporting.

According to the BLS, employers prefer to hire those with experience. You can gain practical experience through several avenues while in school, such as participating in internship programs, working on school-sponsored radio and cable stations or finding employment in the field. Typically, internships don't involve on-air work, but they do provide experience in research, story development and allow you to get an inside look at how a television station operates.

What is the Earning Potential?

Salaries vary for television journalists based on employer and experience. Smaller, local stations often pay less than larger metropolitan companies or national corporations. In 2015, the BLS reported that reporters and correspondents made a mean annual wage of $46,560 per year. In addition to the size of the company, earnings were also indicative of location, with the metropolitan areas of the District of Columbia, New York, Georgia, Maryland, and Massachusetts among the areas with the highest paid reporters and correspondents.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Journalists are not only needed on television but also in other forms of media such as print and radio. Print, film, and video editors modify content for publication or viewing and both require a bachelor's degree. Public relations professionals must have a similar skill set as well as a bachelor's degree. They are concerned with creating a favorable public image for the individual or organization that hired them by using media to influence public perception and increase awareness.

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:

  • 1. Degree Options:
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  • Colorado Christian University

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  • Boston University

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    • Columbia (D.C.): Washington
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    • Georgia: Athens