Journalist: Journalism Career Education Summary

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

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Journalists hunt down stories and write them for various media platforms. They typically have a bachelor's degree or higher in journalism or a related major. Courses typically concentrate on researching and writing, two skills a journalist needs.

Essential Information

Journalists play a vital social role, reporting news and conveying informed opinions on topics ranging from politics to celebrities. Journalists work in a variety of settings, from the comfort of their office desk to potentially dangerous field locations, such as war zones. Most journalists possess a bachelor's degree in journalism, although other concentrations, such as English or communications, may suffice. Many journalists cut their teeth working for their school's newspaper.

Required Education A bachelor's degree is typically expected
Other Requirements Familiarity with current affairs and strong research skills; journalism experience through prior work opportunities or internships
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* -8% for reporters, correspondents and broadcast news analysts
Median Annual Salary (2015)* $36,360 for reporters and correspondents

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Education Summary for a Career in Journalism

Foundational Courses in High School

High school students considering a career as a journalist can prepare for college by taking as many advanced English courses as possible. Aside from providing students with a stepping stone for a career in writing and reporting, advanced placement (AP) English courses may transfer as college credits, giving students an added edge in undergraduate school. Additionally, students can explore options in journalism by writing for their school newspaper or working with their school's news broadcasting program.

Bachelor's Degree in Journalism

Journalism programs teach the principles and techniques of writing, editing and reporting. Students are taught to analyze media topics and write clearly about them. To build research skills, they could be required to investigate topics in foreign affairs and prepare scripts for news shows. Writing courses could allow them to experiment with feature writing for magazines or newspapers. Students could also seek journalism internship opportunities to gain practical experience within the industry.

Other Majors

Not all schools offer undergraduate degrees in journalism. Other relevant majors for students interested in becoming a journalist include English and communications. Like programs in journalism, bachelor's degree programs in English and communications emphasize research and writing. Courses in these programs help students develop the abilities to present facts and argue points. Students could also explore various written techniques to convey message and tone.

Advanced Degrees

College graduates wishing to advance their knowledge in journalism or specialize in a journalistic field, like multimedia journalism, may consider a graduate certificate or master's degree program. Program requirements vary, but often include 2-4 semesters of coursework that cover various topics, from research methods to blogging. Students can choose to study specializations, such as broadcast or investigative journalism, which delve into topics like news program production or technology in journalism.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) anticipated that overall employment of journalists, including reporters, correspondents and broadcast news analysts, would shrink 8% during the 2014-2024 decade. Decreasing numbers of television viewers and newspaper readers are the primary reason for this job decline. The median annual salary of reporters and correspondents was $36,360 in May 2015, according to the BLS.

A journalist can start out taking relevant classes in high school and possibly engage in internships, then go on to earn a college degree in journalism, English, or a similar field. Graduate programs focus on journalistic specializations.

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