Journalist: Career Summary, Job Outlook, and Education Requirements

Explore the career requirements for journalists. Get the facts about salary, degree requirements, job outlook and job duties to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Journalism degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Journalist?

Journalist careers include reporters, news correspondents, news writers, columnists and newscasters. They can work for a variety of media organizations, including newspapers, television or radio stations. Journalists will research topics that they have been assigned to inform the public about news and events taking place. Their research may include interviews and contacting experts or consultants in the area. Once their research is complete, they will create a written piece about the subject, compile audio or visuals to enhance it, review it and continue to update it as new information is available. The demand for multimedia journalists who can publish work in multiple kinds of media is increasing. A summary of important career details are available in the following table.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Journalism, mass communications, communications
Key Skills Writing and speaking, persistence, computer literacy, physical stamina, objectivity
Job Growth (2014-2024) -8% for all reporters and correspondents*
Median Salary (2015) $36,360 for all reporters and correspondents*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Education Do I Need to Become a Journalist?

Print and broadcast journalism programs are available at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Most entry-level jobs require at least a bachelor's degree with an employer preference for degrees in journalism or mass communications. Experience is important in this field, so choosing a program that offers opportunities for real-world experience with newspapers, radio and television can be helpful.

Many colleges and universities offer bachelor's degree programs with concentrations like science and health journalism, photojournalism and emerging media. Other classes might include journalistic inquiry, ethics, journalism in culture and news reporting. The Society of Professional Journalists recommends journalism students become well rounded by also taking electives in a variety of subjects, like accounting, law, government and business (www.spj.org).

Master's degree programs highlight investigative journalism, advanced research, theory and leadership. Some programs have specialties like public policy, online journalism and investigative reporting. Courses may cover quantitative research methods, how to report on religious topics and national security reporting. A number of journalism schools have combined bachelor's and master's degree programs that can be completed in five years.

What Would My Job Duties Be?

Journalists attend events and activities, to observe, interview and report. You might also perform research and document your facts in written, photo, video and audio formats. You may also give viewpoints or opinions about the news to your audience as a columnist or commentator. Work hours can be irregular and assignments are frequently completed under tight deadlines.

What Is the Employment Outlook?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects a decrease of 8% for reporters and correspondents, leading to a moderate decline in employment for 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). Since many media outlets have transitioned to online publication, competition for jobs is high, with many jobs going to those who have new media skills.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

There are a few related careers that require a bachelor's degree, including editors; public relations specialists; film and video editors; and camera operators. Editors are responsible for reviewing and revising work prior to publication. Public relations specialists represent various organizations and help their organizations present a positive public image. They may accomplish this through media releases. Film and video editors and camera operators create, manipulate and change the images that an audience sees.

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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