Become a Sports Writer: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn how to become a sports writer. Research the education and career requirements, licensure, and experience required for starting a career as a sports writer.

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Should I Become a Sports Writer?

Sports writers ensure that fans are up-to-date on the latest developments and news on their favorite teams. In addition to writing about what happens in the games, sports writers may also write their opinion about trades, free agents, and coaching strategies. Additionally, sports writers can choose to write about up-and-coming players, team dynamics, playoff predictions, and so forth. Essentially, sports writers can write about any aspect of the game that they choose.

While sports writing positions are still available with newspapers, more and more opportunities are online. Many of these writers may be able to make their own schedules; however, news stories often come with strict deadlines that may need to be met through long hours. In order to become a sports writer, individuals can pursue a bachelor's degree in journalism and develop experience in the field by writing for their collegiate sports teams. Prior experience in some form is typically required to get a job in this field.

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Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree
Degree Field Journalism
Experience It's essential that prospective sports writers have writing experience and knowledge of sports; some agencies require prior work or internship experience to be considered for employment
Key Skills In addition to strong writing skills, sports writers need to be persistent and determined, well acclimated with the sport(s) they're writing about, and motivated to work independently
Salary (2014) $36,000 (median salary for all reporters and correspondents)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS); Monster.com (August 2012)

Step 1: Acquire Sports Knowledge

Even before enrolling in a bachelor's degree program, prospective sports writers may need to follow sports and have a strong knowledge of teams and players. Individuals often pursue a sports writing career because they have a passion for a certain sport or sports in general. Many play sports growing up, while still others are simply lifelong fans.

Success Tip

  • Write about high school teams. Many high schools have newspapers or newsletters that are distributed among students and throughout the community. Covering a local sports team for the paper may offer the opportunity to develop writing skills and prepare for a journalism bachelor's degree program.

Step 2: Complete a Journalism Program

While sports journalism programs are available, most sports writers can prepare for a career in the field by enrolling in a journalism program. In addition to learning about writing for an audience, students also learn how to think critically when covering a story, gather information, present stories, educate the public, and engage with the outside world. Courses in the program cover topics in storytelling basics, reporting, magazine writing, social media, visual journalism, and ethics in journalism. Some programs may even offer courses in sports journalism.

Success Tip

  • Write for a college paper. Like high schools, many colleges and universities have campus newspapers that educate and inform the student body and faculty about news and events occurring at the school. As a journalism student, you may have an opportunity to write for these publications, and prospective sports writers should consider writing for the sports section.

Step 3: Complete an Internship

Internships are a very important part of becoming a journalist, and while writing columns and covering sports teams won't be part of an internship, it's an important part of developing connections in the field and finding employment. Journalism programs often require students to complete an internship as part of the program. While completing such internships, it is important to gain exposure to the multiple ways that news is represented in today's society. Moreover, gaining experience on a multimedia platform can be instrumental towards landing a job.

  • Keep writing. Whether it is through a blog, independent website, or for personal enjoyment, it's important to continue writing and following sports. This will give up-to-date samples of work that can be sent out to prospective employers when seeking job opportunities.

Step 4: Career Advancement

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), progress in one's career can be best served by working for large national news organizations in major cities, as opposed to staying at the local level. It's important to denote that strong competition is expected for these positions; however, for those interested in gaining national recognition, relocating to a major city may be an essential career move.

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