Journalist Education Requirements and Career Information

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a journalist. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about career options, job duties and degree programs to find out if this is the career for you.

Essential Information

Journalists analyze and interpret facts and information about local, national and international events and report them to the public. Most journalists complete bachelor's degree programs to prepare for careers in either print or broadcast journalism. Work experience is important for aspiring journalists, so most degree programs include an internship.

Required Education Bachelor's degree
Other Requirements Work experience
Job Growth (2012-2022)* -14% for all reporters and correspondents
Median Salary (2013)*$35,600 all for reporters and correspondents

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Requirements for Journalists

Journalists, also referred to as reporters and correspondents, have bachelor's degrees in either communications or journalism. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), approximately 1,500 institutions in the U.S. offer these degree programs (www.bls.gov).

All journalism majors take courses in editing, journalistic ethics, reporting, feature writing, photojournalism and communications. Additional coursework is determined by whether a student is focusing on print or broadcast journalism. Students either take courses to strengthen their writing skills or to learn radio and television production techniques. Those concentrating in online media learn software and web design skills, as well as how to combine text with graphics, photo and video media. Undergraduate students also benefit from professional internships with media outlets, completed either during the summer or during the semester.

Career Options

Print journalism and broadcast journalism are the two major areas in which a journalist might work. As both text-based and broadcast news is becoming increasingly digitized, both of these career areas have some online media focus.

Print Journalist

There are positions available in print (newspapers and magazines) and online media. Some journalists report on facts alone, while others, such as columnists, create content based on both facts and opinions. Journalists often specialize in certain fields, such as politics, entertainment, sports or weather.

Broadcast Journalist

Broadcast journalists may choose to be either newscasters or correspondents with radio and television news outlets, as well as on the Web. Newscasters are more commonly known as news anchors, who present and introduce news packages. Correspondents conduct research and deliver news reports from the field.

Career Information

According to the BLS, many journalists begin their careers with smaller publications or broadcast networks, often as general assignment reporters assigned to news that is pertinent to that outlet's audience (www.bls.gov). As they gain experience and build a portfolio of reports, they are assigned to more difficult and in-depth stories.

After years of reporting, many journalists go on to become editors, producers, supervising reporters and even station managers and publishers. They may also have the opportunity to advance to larger networks and publications.

Career Outlook

The BLS lists the median annual wage of reporters and correspondents in general at $35,600 as of May 2013. The average salary of those working in the newspaper, periodical, book and directory publising industry was $40,240, while those working in the radio and television broadcasting industry earned an average of $48,110 annually.

Employment in the reporting and correspondence field is expected to decline 14% through the 2012-2022 decade, due to news organizations merging and the decrease in the number of newspaper readers. According to the BLS, employment prospects will be favorable with small local newspapers. The BLS also reports, however, that journalists with training or experience in online print and broadcast media can expect the best job opportunities in this highly competitive field.

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