Here is an extensive career guide that elaborates on the career path of journalists, the job outlook, salaries, qualifications required and much more.

Updated by Rakshitha.N on 1st October 2020

What do they do: Journalists conduct investigations, analyze the details, investigate links, examine the sources, and collect information to prepare a story and present the reality to the public about news and events.

Working environment: They work indoors in office settings as well as outdoors while reaching out to people and finding the details regardless of holidays or weekends. The environment is usually harsh, crowded, and dangerous.

How to become: to become a journalist, you must earn a bachelor’s degree in journalism or communication. Completing an internship adds value to your portfolio. 

Salary offered: The average salary offered to journalists can be about $49,987 and usually ranges anywhere between $30,228 and $69,747 per year. 

Career Outlook: The job prospects of a journalist has a decline rate of about 10 percent during the period of 2018 to 2028. This is due to the negative impact of the reduced advertising revenue in various media. 

Similar careers: Earning a degree in journalism will open doors to various career opportunities based on your interests, additional skills, career goals, and interests. 

Top Journalist Jobs

Social media planner

A social media planner is one who manages, plans, directs and coordinates the social media strategy formed for the organization's brand promotions. Approaching the clients, executing paid advertising campaigns, building customer relationships, vendor management and investors is necessary to achieve success in this profession. Also collaborating with various teams to develop a plan, execute and implement the ideas,  plan social media advertising budgets are included in this profile. The average salary offered for this is about $54,053 yearly. 

Content manager

A content manager is one who develops appropriate content strategies and plans accordingly for online media and other platforms. They work with the marketing teams and create exhaustive, engaging, creative, and relevant content for promotion. Creating test plans, reviewing web analytics, and improving production processes helps in boosting the brand’s market performance. The average salary offered on a yearly basis is about $56,771.

Digital strategist

A digital strategist works closely with content development, marketing, and social media management teams to promote digital strategies. With the analysis of data and evaluating the trends, they identify the audience’s needs and create strategies to meet targets. The average salary offered is about $60,078 per year. 

What do Journalists Do?

Journalists are professionals who present and inform the public about current affairs, news, events occurring around the world, internationally, nationally, and locally. Reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts are career paths with journalism as a major where they report the news in various mediums such as newspapers, magazines, websites, television, and radio. The general duties include, 

  • Conduct research on the ongoing topics and stories in detail as per the guidance of an editor or news director has assigned.

  • Investigate on the cover stories and topics to suggest ideas for the higher professionals like editors.

  • Examine the scope of the story and interview the people linked with the story. Provide clear information to the audience through analysis, or opinions on the information collected. 

  • Create content and write articles for newspapers, blogs, or magazines and write scripts.

  • Also prepare a report on the details to present on television or radio

  • Inspect for the accuracy and authenticity of the details collected

  • Look for errors, style, and grammar on the written scripts.

  • Be competitive and find the details of the events occurring sooner for the audience

  • Maintain relationship with experts and contacts who provide tips and leads on stories

  • Interpret the information to present information with clarity and reach out to the audience.

To elaborate on the roles and duties of professionals with journalism as a career path are explained as follows,

  • Reporters: Reports are concerned with the collection of information by conducting interviews, investigating sources such as conducting interviews by phone, in person, or by e-mail, and putting the information together as a well-rounded story. Reporters cover different areas to find stories such as sports, education, politics, or lifestyle. 

  • Sub-Editors: They edit the information and stories prepared by the reporters as required for their particular newspaper, magazine, or website. They focus on tailoring the story more than gathering more information through suitable alterations. 

  • Copy Editors: Copy editors perform duties such as finding and fixing errors, grammatical mistakes, spelling, punctuation, and syntax. They also check the accuracy and format the mistakes to prepare it for publishing. 

  • Photojournalist: Photojournalists use photography as a medium to report their stories. Working with reporters, Photojournalists click photos to represent their writing and represent a pictorial view. They are often exposed to physical danger, crowds, or harsh weather.

  • Editor: A editor picks and decides what should be put in a newspaper, magazine, or news bulletin. They make the final decision on what must be published and assign topics to journalists to work on. 

  • News media journalist: New media journalists work towards presenting text, images, audio, and video to create and publish their stories. They write content and mostly work for online newspapers, magazines, and other publications.

Working Conditions of Journalists

Journalists work indoors in office settings and also travel to various locations to collect information, investigate, and collaborate with people. They are openly seen working in various fields such as Newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers, Radio and television broadcasting and also as freelancers. The working conditions include,

  • They work in various settings and locations

  • Have a high level of social interaction with various teams and publishers. 

  • Work on the guidance of editors 

  • May be exposed to harsh, crowded, and dangerous conditions. 

  • Can work for online or offline media. 

  • No fixed work schedule and it can vary based on work

  • Must be accurate and precise about their work

  • Can face work pressure and stress while trying to meet the deadlines

  • Maintain originality in their story covered. 

  • May work regardless of the holidays, weekends, or shifts. 

Also to detail on the working environment of journalists can vary based on who they work for, the largest hiring industries are detailed below,

Broadcast news analysts:

  • Radio and television broadcasting: 71%

  • Self-employed workers: 13%

  • Educational services; state, local, and private: 3%

Reporters and correspondents:

  • Newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers: 44%

  • Radio and television broadcasting: 28%

  • Self-employed workers: 14%

  • Other information services: 9%

How to Become a Journalist?

Entering into the field of journalism is highly competitive but to become a successful journalist one must gain a bachelor’s degree in journalism and communications which is the minimum requirement. After completing a degree, you can complete a journalism class or specialize in the fields to land on specific professions according to your interests. Alongside this, you must gain experience through internships and start working at a college radio or television station or a newspaper. Advance your career by continuing education through a Master’s degree or Ph.D.

Educational requirements for Journalists

To succeed in the competitive field, you must be skilled and enthusiastic to work. Employers prefer to hire candidates who earn a bachelor's degree in journalism or communications or a degree in related majors such as English or political science. Candidates can also be hired based on their work experience in the relevant field. 

The career journey begins right when you're at high school where you acquire your prerequisites such as language arts, English, humanities, and social studies. Engaging in writing articles and blogs for school newspapers or yearbooks helps in building skills. 

A bachelor’s degree in journalism is the most commonly pursued degree which offers strong knowledge on courses such as Broadcast reporting, investigative reporting, mass communication law, advanced reporting, and others in the four-year curriculum.

A master’s degree helps in advancing your career as well as deepening knowledge in the courses such as evidence and inference, specialized topical reporting, and other researching concepts. 

Interested students can also pursue journalism courses such as print, broadcast, or multimedia. 

Experience and Advancement for Journalists

After meeting the education requirements, you must also meet career requirements which include gaining experience and specializing. 


Students can get practical knowledge on the investigation, interviewing and other necessary concepts. Getting trained as a journalist in different news organizations allows you to work under experienced professionals at media outlets, including newspapers, magazines, websites, and radio and television stations. Candidates can reap benefits such as building contacts, maintaining strong relationships with mentors, employment opportunities, and most of all a great opportunity to build a strong portfolio.


While practicing professional journalism you must specialize in concepts and enter into categories such as print media and broadcast media.  Here are some areas of specialization that are typically addressed in journalism programs,

  • Broadcast Journalism

  • Business and Financial Reporting

  • Environmental Journalism

  • Feature and Magazine Writing

  • Global and International Journalism

  • News Reporting

  • Online or Multimedia Journalism

  • Photojournalism

  • Political Journalism

  • Science and Health Reporting

  • Sports Reporting

Stand Out Skills for Journalists

Communication skills: journalists must be good at communicating as well as writing skills to report the news and prepare detailed stories. As journalists work in all kinds of media and investigating, interviewing people requires good communication skills. 

Technical skills: journalists must be good with technical skills, this also includes the use of computers which helps in publishing news online as well as researching better. Knowledge of usage of multimedia and coding software helps in publishing articles on websites and mobile devices.

Interpersonal skills: The skill sets such as management, leadership, building good relationships with clients and co-workers include interpersonal skills which also helps in working better in the workplace.

Physical stamina: In this competitive field, you must be quick on your heel and have good physical strength to go around locations and also keep with the work off-schedule. 

Persistence: Certain times, it might be difficult to get proper details or figure out reality through proper evidence and information. Hence being consistent and persistent with efforts helps in standing out among others. 

Top University Programs for Journalism 

  • Harvard University

  • Columbia University

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology

  • Yale University

  • Stanford University

  • The University of Chicago

  • University of Pennsylvania

  • Northwestern University

Journalists Salary

The average salary offered to journalists in the United States is about $49,987 and can range anywhere between $30,228 and $69,747 on a yearly basis. The hourly median wages are $18 which is based on many factors. The salaries can depend on various factors such as certification, skills, education, experience, and others. 

The salaries offered based on the professionals are listed below, 

  • broadcast news analysts: $66,880

  • reporters and correspondents: $41,260

  • Editor: $69,899

  • Total all occupations: $59,346

Seeing the median salaries offered by the industries which hire journalist are,

  • Radio and television broadcasting: $59,720

  • Other information services: $48,220

  • Newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers: $35,860

Job Growth of Journalists

The job growth of journalists as estimated by the Bureau of labor statistics is estimated to have a decline rate of 10 percent over the period of 2018 to 2028. The employment rates are noted as follows,

  • News analysts, reporters and correspondents: -10 percent

  • Reporters and correspondents: -11 percent

  • Broadcast news analysts: +1percent

Today, the employments of News analysts, reporters, and correspondents; Reporters and correspondents; and Broadcast news analysts is about 49,700, 42,800 and 6,900 which gradually is expected to become 44,600, 37,600 and 7,000 by the end of 2028, which means the employment gaps will be about -5,100, 100, -5,200 between 10 years respectively. 

The decline rate is due to the reduced advertising revenue in media such as radio, newspapers, and television which will continue to have adverse effects for the next decade. The upcoming organizations and media publishers will face the problem even if new innovative ideas come into existence. This will further lead to downsizing the workforce, organization, and other adverse effects. 

One good news is, the Multimedia journalism who works on recording and editing video or audio pieces, particularly those who have experience in website design and coding can expect an improvement in the job prospects due to increased audience appearance in the online media platforms. 

Related Careers for Journalists


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Film and video editors and camera operators are responsible for visualizing and manipulating the images captured to keep the audience entertained. 


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Photographers re professionals who are skilled in capturing pictures that depict the story intended to convey. This includes technical expertise, creativity, and composition skills to produce and preserve images.