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War Correspondent: Job Duties, Salary and Requirements

War correspondent positions require some formal education. Learn about the degree, job duties and requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

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A war correspondent is a reporter assigned to cover stories and issues related to a war. They are stationed in the location where the war is being fought, and observe conflict firsthand. War correspondents interview military personnel and civilians and must investigate their stories and support claims made in their articles or reports.

Essential Information

Experienced general-assignment reporters sometimes have the opportunity to become news correspondents, who report on news while in foreign cities. Correspondents that provide firsthand reports on conflicts occurring throughout the world are referred to as war correspondents. A bachelor's degree and internship or journalism experience is typically required for entry-level positions as a correspondent; master's degree programs are also available. The ability to speak foreign languages is also desirable for obtaining employment.

Required Education Bachelor's degree usually required, optional master's programs available
Other Requirements Internship or experience often required, foreign language skills desired
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* -8% (decline) for all reporters and correspondents
Median Salary (2015)* $36,360 for all reporters and correspondents

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Job Duties

During wartime, the public usually depends on war correspondents to bring them images and written accounts of major events. Despite being stationed in foreign countries, war correspondents have the same job duties as other reporters and correspondents in that they gather information before presenting it to the public. War correspondents prepare reports by examining official documents, investigating tips, and interviewing sources, which can include military commanders, civilians, and soldiers. To observe conflicts firsthand, correspondents sometimes become embedded with combat units and can be exposed to dangerous environments since they often accompany troops to the front lines.

Salary

The salaries of war correspondents vary greatly depending on the news company and the correspondents' work experience. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage of all reporters and correspondents was $36,360 as of May 2015 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also reported that the highest paid ten percent of correspondents and reporters earned $81,580 or more in 2015.

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Requirements

Bachelor's Degree

The BLS states that employers usually require correspondents to have at least a bachelor's degree in a program such as journalism or mass communication. The mass communication degree program allows students to study all forms of mass media and includes courses in broadcast journalism, media law, feature writing, and media criticism. Students in the journalism degree program learn to write, edit, and report articles by taking classes in journalism ethics, news writing, journalism research, and public relations.

Students can increase their chances of employment after graduation by attending colleges accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications. Foreign language courses are also beneficial since war correspondents report from foreign countries and need effective communication with the public to gather information for stories.

Master's Degree

Although not always required, many colleges offer graduate degrees in journalism. Master's degree candidates can choose concentrations, including magazine and newspaper reporting, broadcast journalism, public relations, political journalism, and international reporting. If degree concentrations aren't offered, students can take elective courses in specific fields, such as public affairs. To qualify for graduation, students must usually complete journalism projects or master's theses.

Experience

Employers often require and prefer war correspondents to have journalism experience. Aspiring correspondents can gain experience by working for college newspapers, which allows them to practice and sharpen their reporting skills. Students can learn how everyday journalism operations are conducted by completing internships with media organizations. Another way students can gain experience and show their skills to potential employers is to pursue freelance writing. Freelance writers write for employers for a short time and usually pitch their own ideas for articles.

Although a bachelor's degree may be sufficient to begin a career as a reporter and correspondent, employers may prefer war correspondents who have experience in journalism. Those who are interested in providing war coverage can consider completing an internship while in college to gain practical experience, which should also help increase their job prospects. The salary for all reporters and correspondents was noted as being a median of about $36,000 as of 2015.

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