Become a Media Analyst: Education and Career Roadmap

Should I Become a Media Analyst?

Media analysts are sometimes referred to as media critics. They review and analyze current print and broadcast media. They report on current trends in the media's overall reporting in terms of fairness, accuracy, content and the impact they have on people and society. The media analyst position is essential in determining the integrity of the mass communications field. Media analysts might get the chance to travel as part of their job; however, because news stories can break at any time, they might also work irregular hours, including nights and weekends.

Career Requirements

Degree Level A bachelor's degree in a media or communication field is required; some employers may require a more advanced degree
Degree Field Media studies; mass communication
Experience Previous experience requirements vary by employer, but often several years of experience in a related field is required; some employers will accept experience as a substitute for education
Key Skills Critical thinking; strong oral and written communication skills; leadership; impartiality
Salary $36,000 (2014 BLS Median for Reporters and Correspondents)

Sources: Media analyst biographies (as of November 2012), I Have a Plan Iowa, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Obtain an Undergraduate Degree

Employers require an undergraduate degree in a media related program, so students should major in mass communications or media studies. Media related fields may be in political science, public policy and law. These related fields involve analysis and critical thinking skills that are important for a career in media analysis. Students should concentrate on courses that cover different media institutions, different media audiences and media research.

Success Tips:

  • Be active in extracurricular activities while in school. For example, individuals can: work on student government campaigns; run for an elected office on campus; gain writing experience with the college newspaper or other school publication; or gain broadcasting experience at a school's TV or radio station.
  • Take advantage of accelerated or combined bachelor's and master's programs offered by some schools. These programs are intensive and are for students meeting certain grade requirements, but they might offer savings in time and/or money.
  • Consider a minor or double major to expand your knowledge. A minor can add another aspect of mass communications or media studies to a student's experience. Possibilities for a relevant minor include broadcast journalism or public relations, or a related field like political science, public policy, law or sociology.
  • Complete an internship at a news organization. An internship will give the student practical experience and knowledge working in the media and mass communications field.

Step 2: Find Work in a Media-Related Field

Employers are looking for education and experience. Finding and maintaining employment in the industry is how a student can advance to the media analyst position.

Media analyst positions can be found in both the public and private sector. Employers are also located in the nonprofit sector; there are, for instance, organizations that only keep watch over the media and report on the media.

Step 3: Get an Advanced Degree

Many employers like a media analyst to have a master's degree. The program can be focused on media or mass communications, or a related field, to help the student expand their knowledge, critical thinking and analytical skills. Students should consider graduate courses that expand on research in the media, advanced research skills, recent history of the media, advanced law, and special areas such as minority coverage or gay and lesbian issues in the media.

Some media analysts hold a doctorate in a media-related field; a terminal degree adds stature and helps qualify these individuals to research or teach at the university level as a full professor or visiting professor. A law degree could also be useful for some media analysis roles.

Success Tip:

  • Write a book related to media studies and analysis. Many media analysts are published authors.

Step 4: Build a Solid Portfolio for Career Advancement

Most often the best way to advance as a media critic is to have a proven track record of excellent work. Experienced writers and critics are able to move to larger publications and markets because they show a proficiency and skill in their coverage. Archive and organize writing clips to show to prospective clients and employers.

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