Become a Financial Journalist: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Should I Become a Financial Journalist?

Financial journalists collect and report information about financial markets for print, broadcast and digital media. They examine data to find stories of importance and have the ability to explain difficult financial concepts clearly.

Like many journalists, those who report on the financial industry might get to travel, doing research, conducting interviews or otherwise chasing down stories. However, this can lead to irregular hours and frequent schedule changes. Financial journalists also have to deal with the pressure of meeting deadlines.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree
Degree Fields Journalism, communications, finance, economics
Experience 2-4+ years of journalism experience
Key Skills Strong people and communication skills, objectivity, familiarity with database software, Microsoft Office Suite and social media, ability to work long hours
Salary (2014) $36,000 per year for all reporters and correspondents (median salary)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, September 2012 online job postings, O'Net Online

Step 1: Complete a Bachelor's Degree Program

Aspiring financial journalists may pursue a bachelor's degree program in journalism, communications, finance or economics. Students who want to build a foundation in finance and journalism can take courses in print or broadcast writing, editing, micro and macroeconomics, accounting and statistics. Some schools offer majors or specializations in business journalism that combine courses in news writing, media ethics, economics reporting and a variety of financial topics.

Success Tip:

  • Gain practical experience. Students can develop critical skills in researching, interviewing and writing by working for a college newspaper or broadcast station. Aspiring journalists may also pursue internships at professional news organizations that can help them practice finding story angles and writing for different audiences. Interns may conduct research and compose breaking news and enterprise stories about businesses, financial markets and the economy.

Step 2: Gain Work Experience

Financial writers may work in print, broadcast or Web media settings as reporters, analysts and/or commentators. Journalists often start in entry-level positions, either as general assignment reporters or working in a business or finance beat. In these jobs, reporters can strengthen their knowledge of fiscal issues and build the skills needed for higher-level positions, including the ability to analyze economic data and predict developments in the financial world.

Success Tip:

  • Join a professional association. Financial journalists may find education, training and networking opportunities through organizations such as the Society of American Business Editors and Writers.

Step 3: Stay Abreast of Technology

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the majority of newspapers and magazines now produce online publications in addition to their printed material. For journalists, this means staying up to date with Web technology in order to be able to produce blog posts, podcasts and Web videos is important. Moreover, websites are likely to be updated more often than printed stories, making it imperative for the journalist to know how to manage Web technology.

Success Tip:

  • Consider taking some additional courses or training. Courses and certificate programs are offered in convenient online formats for the busy professional. Classes in writing for digital media, multimedia and communication as well as database and Web research strategies are available.
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