How to become a Journalist

If you’ve ever thought about a career in journalism, now could be the time to make your move. Journalists write the content we read every day over a wealth of media. These professionals can cover anything from films to football, or from tennis to technology. So, journalism could be a dream career if you become lucky enough to report on the field you’re passionate about. Many scribes begin at their local paper covering news, politics and the social issues that affect the community. Others start by writing for online blogs on a freelance basis. Either way, you’ll need to graft, and the job can entail long hours, but put in the work and you could earn a career you love. Take a look at how to become a Journalist.

What does a Journalist do?

The role of a Journalist is to write about the news. Although this sounds straight-forward, it involves plenty of challenging yet rewarding duties. When working as a Journalist, you could be writing features, interviews, list articles or opinion pieces depending on the media you’re writing for—online or print—and the audience you’re targeting. To get the story, though, a Journalist needs to be in the know—that means you’ll need to conduct plenty of research and interviews to get the most up-to-date insight. Depending on the company and your range of skills, you could also be responsible for editing pages. In the print market, QuarkXpress is a popular tool, while in the digital market, many companies use WordPress. It’s worth learning how to use these platforms because a flair for design could give you the competitive edge.

What salary can a Journalist earn?

If you’re looking to write the headlines, remember starting salaries are basic. You’re looking at an annual salary of around £16,000 to £18,000 for entry-level roles. Once you’ve picked up two or three years’ experience, you can earn around £22,000 and upwards. At the highest level, editors can take home anything from £40,000 upwards. Still, the size of the company is important here. Editors of national newspapers will earn more than editors of a niche publication with a small circulation, for instance.

How do I get started as a Journalist?

We recommend taking a journalism degree at university, especially if the course is accredited by the NCTJ, a widely-recognised body in the industry. In doing this, you’ll learn about the laws, ethics and practices of journalism. It’s worth choosing a course which involves a work placement unit. This will give you the chance to join a publication on a temporary basis, and any work you complete during your stay will go towards your final grade.

What qualities will I need as a Journalist?

As you’d imagine, a Journalist needs to excel at writing. So, if you love reading and writing, and take pride in your punctuation, you’ll be well at home working in journalism. We’ve already mentioned you’ll need design skills if you want to progress to edit pages. If you’ve edited websites using WordPress or studied page layouts, you’ll fit the editing skills needed to become a Journalist. Keep in mind journalism is also a fast-paced industry, in which stories can break at any moment. In that sense, you’ll need a cool head under pressure, as well as strong communication skills for conducting interviews. A thick skin helps, too, when dealing with opposition to anything you’ve written.