Should I Become a Fact Checker?
A fact checker verifies information in media reports or published materials. They delve deeply into stated facts and information to improve the quality of those materials. Internet research and analytic skills, attention to detail, and quality reading comprehension skills are needed. Accuracy and diligence are also common traits for individuals interested in becoming fact checkers.
Work schedules in this career can vary and are often determined by deadlines. Many in the editorial field, including fact checkers, work either from busy offices or from their homes.
|Degree Level||Bachelor's degree required|
|Degree Field||Journalism, communications, English|
|Experience||Internship experience can be helpful|
|Key Skills||Creativity; skills in communication, writing, interviewing, and computer research; proficient in the use of grammar, spelling, and punctuation; specialized knowledge, such as medical terminology, may be required|
|Average Salary (March 2020)*||$61,686, with entry-level starting at $44,555 and senior-level starting at $75,870 (for editorial fact checkers)|
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Job postings by employers (August 2015), *SalaryExpert.com
Steps to Become a Fact Checker
Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree
A minimum of a bachelor's degree in journalism, communications, English, or library science is typically required for these positions. Students frequently gain research experience through courses in a bachelor's degree program in these types of majors, as well as other research-intensive disciplines, such as the social sciences.
To increase your chances for success, you may want to join a professional organization. Depending on your degree field, you may be able to join a student chapter of a professional organization for a field such as journalism. Membership in a professional organization can give you the opportunity to network with others already working in the field.
You may also want to learn about online media and journalism venues. Some university journalism programs offer courses or even majors in internet journalism and news. Many magazines and newspapers have online versions of their publication so knowledge in this area is essential.
Step 2: Acquire Experience
Generally, employers seek applicants who have prior experience, which could be obtained through internships. Some internship opportunities, such as editing internships, include experience in research or fact checking. Aspiring fact checkers may also build their resumes doing part-time or freelance work. Specialized training may be needed in areas such as healthcare, history, or library science, depending on the field in which a fact checker wishes to work.
Step 3: Seek Employment
Magazines, libraries, production companies, corporations, and other organizations, such as political and consumer watchdog groups, typically hire fact checkers or researchers. Fact checkers can also find employment with online companies that fact check political ads and news releases. In some companies, fact checking is a duty of copy editors or research editors, while other companies might have fact checkers work with teams of researchers. In addition, fact checkers can work as freelancers and, with experience, fact checkers can pursue positions in editing or publishing.
Fact checkers verify information in media reports or published materials. They usually have bachelor's degrees, along with professional skills in communication, writing, and computer research. And they earn an average annual salary of $61,686.