Become a Sports Writer: Education and Career Roadmap

Apr 28, 2020

Learn how to become a sports writer. Research the education and career requirements, licensure, and experience required for starting a career as a sports writer.

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Should I Become a Sports Writer?

Sports writers ensure that fans are up-to-date on the latest developments and news on their favorite teams. In addition to writing about what happens in the games, sports writers may also write their opinion about trades, free agents, and coaching strategies. Additionally, sports writers can choose to write about up-and-coming players, team dynamics, and playoff predictions. Essentially, sports writers can write about any aspect of the game that they choose.

While sports writing positions are still available with newspapers, more and more opportunities are online. Sports writers may be able to make their own schedules; however, news stories often come with strict deadlines that may need to be met through long hours.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree
Degree Field Journalism
Key Skills In addition to strong writing skills and knowledge of sports; persistent, determined, and able to work independently
Experience Some employers may require prior work or internship experience to be considered for employment
Median Annual Salary (2019)* $46,270 (for news analysts, reporters, and journalists)

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS); (August 2012)

Steps to Become a Sports Writer

Let's go over the steps you'll need to take to become a sports writer.

Step 1: Acquire Sports Knowledge

Even before enrolling in a bachelor's degree program, prospective sports writers will need to follow sports and have a strong knowledge of teams and players. Individuals often pursue a sports writing career because they have a passion for a certain sport or sports in general. Many played sports growing up, while still others are simply lifelong fans.

Many high schools have newspapers or newsletters that are distributed among students and throughout the community. Covering a local sports team for the paper may offer the opportunity to develop writing skills and prepare for a journalism bachelor's degree program.

Step 2: Complete a Journalism Program

While sports journalism programs are available, most sports writers can prepare for a career in the field by enrolling in a journalism program. In addition to learning about writing for an audience, students also learn how to think critically when covering a story, gather information, present stories, educate the public, and engage with the outside world. Courses may include storytelling basics, reporting, magazine writing, social media, visual journalism, and ethics in journalism. Some programs may even offer courses in sports journalism.

Step 3: Complete an Internship

Journalism programs often require students to complete an internship as part of the degree program. During an internship, you'll develop connects in the field, work on stories, and develop a portfolio of on-air appearances and writing samples that are an important part of finding employment after graduation. Whether it is through a blog, independent website, or for personal enjoyment, it's important to continue writing and following sports. This will give up-to-date samples of work that can be sent out to prospective employers when seeking job opportunities.

Step 4: Career Advancement

According to the BLS, progress in one's career can be achieved by working for large national news organizations in major cities, as opposed to staying at the local level. Strong competition is expected for these positions; however, for those interested in gaining national recognition, relocating to a major city may be an essential career move.

In summary, to become a sports writer, you'll need a bachelor's degree in journalism, prior work or internship experience, knowledge of sports, and strong writing skills.

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