What Does a Career in Journalism Look Like?


Updated October 11, 2023

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Journalists are responsible for relaying factual, timely information to citizens, empowering them with understanding of current events.

A journalism career requires strong communication, writing, and critical thinking skills, as well as investigative and research abilities. A bachelor's degree in journalism meets the educational requirement for many entry-level roles in the field, including reporter, writer, and editor.

Journalism majors can work in many fields, including news media, public relations, advertising, education, and technology.

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Journalism in the Digital Age

Journalists keep the public informed on local issues, politics, and international news. In the digital age, journalists ensure that accurate and well-researched information reaches the public. During the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, journalists have relayed factual information about the disease, state restrictions, and vaccine roll-out plans.

While some careers in journalism report declining job openings, journalists continue to play a vital role in our society. Outside of the news media industry, journalists also write books, work in public relations firms, and educate people about journalism and public speaking.

Top Journalism Degree Jobs

Journalism degrees can lead to careers in media, entertainment, public relations, and marketing. These professionals work in the public sector, nonprofit organizations, the sports industry, and education. Many businesses rely on journalism majors to communicate their brand image and attract potential customers.

Journalism career salaries vary widely depending on the job title, location, and industry. Entry-level professionals typically receive below-average salaries and work their way up to higher salaries with experience. An internship can also help journalism majors increase their job prospects.

Public Relations Managers

A public relations manager maintains a positive brand image for their organization or client through press releases, media interviews, and sponsored events. They supervise public relations specialists and ensure that marketing and advertising plans match the organization's intended image.

Source: BLS

Median Salary: $118,430 Projected Job Growth (2019-2029): 9%

Technical Writers

Technical writers create instruction manuals and guides for customers, making complex information easy for users to understand. They also communicate technical information to an organization's internal networks.

Source: BLS

Median Salary: $74,650 Projected Job Growth (2019-2029): 7%

Writers and Authors

Writers and authors create material for books, websites, magazines, and newspapers. They usually specialize in a specific type of writing, like copywriting, scriptwriting, or speechwriting. These professionals work with editors and clients to prepare materials for publication.

Source: BLS

Median Salary: $67,120 Projected Job Growth (2019-2029): -2%


Editors revise written material for publication. Some of these professionals plan content and assign work to writers, while others ensure that stories follow editorial policies and fit with the publication's style.

Source: BLS

Median Salary: $63,400 Projected Job Growth (2019-2029): -7%

Radio and Television Journalists

Radio and television journalists report the news on the radio and in television broadcasts. They research topics, pitch ideas to editors, conduct investigations, and host interviews.

Source: BLS

Median Salary: $55,030 Projected Job Growth (2019-2029): -11%

Newspaper, Periodical, Book, and Directory Publishers

Newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers release print and digital works, including magazines, books, and newspapers. Some publishers create the publications, while others secure material through contracts.

Source: BLS

Median Salary: $51,190 Projected Job Growth (2019-2029): N/A

What Kinds of Journalism Degrees Are There?

Colleges offer journalism degrees at the undergraduate and graduate levels. A journalism career typically requires at least a bachelor's degree. For example, reporters, broadcast news analysts, editors, and writers all typically hold bachelor's degrees.

Professionals can advance their careers through work experience or a graduate degree. A master's in journalism, for example, helps journalists stand out on the job market and pursue roles as executive editors and news anchors.

In addition to a journalism career, graduates can also pursue opportunities in public relations, publishing, and advertising. Journalism degrees can also prepare graduates for careers as copywriters, public relations specialists, technical writers, and social media planners.

Associate Degree in Journalism

Associate degrees in journalism introduce learners to foundational concepts in reporting, media, and broadcasting. In addition to journalism coursework, degree-seekers typically complete classes in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Many community colleges offer transfer pathways for graduates interested in bachelor's degrees.

Associate in Journalism Degree Jobs

Bachelor of Journalism Degree

Journalism majors strengthen their writing, critical thinking, and analytical skills while studying mass media, communications, and news reporting. During a journalism degree, undergraduates take courses in broadcast journalism, public relations, and mass media law. They also complete general education requirements.

Many colleges offer bachelor of arts (BA) or bachelor of science (BS) degrees in journalism. Both programs offer strong training in journalism, though they differ in their general education requirements. BA students often take foreign language and additional humanities courses, while BS students complete more math and science coursework, like statistics.

Bachelor's in Journalism Degree Jobs

Master's Degree in Journalism

A master's degree offers graduate-level training in journalism. During a master's program, degree-seekers can earn concentrations in areas like investigative reporting, audio journalism, and visual journalism. Many master's programs incorporate internships to provide practical experience. The degree prepares graduates for roles in media or related fields, like public relations.

Careers With a Master's Degree in Journalism

Doctoral Degree in Journalism

Doctoral students must complete advanced coursework, pass comprehensive exams, and write dissertations to earn their degrees. They specialize in subfields of journalism, like investigative reporting, data journalism, or writing. With a doctorate, graduates can work in academic and research roles.

Careers With a Doctoral Degree in Journalism

Journalism Program Accreditation

Prospective journalism majors should always choose accredited colleges and universities. Accredited schools meet the highest standards for educating students and granting degrees. The Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications accredits journalism and communication programs.

Journalism Professional Organizations

NABJ advocates for Black journalists and media professionals. The association offers events, webinars, and sensitivity training and also hosts a career center, an editor database, and a freelance database. This professional association for Hispanics working in media brings together journalists, journalism students, and other media professionals. The association encourages Hispanic students to pursue journalism careers and provides professional development resources. AWM supports women in media through educational resources, professional development tools, and membership benefits. The alliance also offers professional training opportunities, scholarships for journalism students, and a career center with job postings. ONA is a professional organization for digital journalists, including students and all digital media professionals. The association provides information on emerging technologies, shares best practices, and offers resources on news storytelling in digital formats. ONA also hosts a conference with networking opportunities. SPJ educates journalists on best practices, offers services to help with early career development, and runs an awards program. Students can qualify for its Mark of Excellence Awards, and SPJ also offers fellowships and local contests.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Journalists Get Paid Well?

Journalists and broadcast news analysts earned a median annual salary of $49,300 in 2020. The highest-paid journalists make over $127,000 per year.

Where Do Journalists Make the Most Money?

According to BLS data, journalists earn the highest salaries in Washington, D.C.; New York; Georgia; and California. In general, major cities tend to offer higher salaries than rural areas do.

How Hard Is It to Get a Journalism Job?

Journalism jobs can be competitive, and the field currently has negative job growth projections. However, journalism majors can also access flexible freelancing opportunities and career paths in related fields, like public relations and advertising.

What Are Entry-Level Jobs for Journalism Majors?

Journalism majors work in many different fields, including media, public relations, advertising, and business. The communication and writing skills developed during a journalism degree are widely applicable in many professional fields.

Portrait of Genevieve Carlton

Genevieve Carlton

Genevieve Carlton holds a Ph.D. in history from Northwestern University. After earning her doctorate in early modern European history, Carlton worked as an assistant professor of history at the University of Louisville, where she developed new courses on the history of science, Renaissance Italy, and the witch trials. Carlton has published five peer-reviewed articles in top presses and a monograph with the University of Chicago Press. She also earned tenure with a unanimous vote before relocating to Seattle. Learn more about Carlton's work at genevievecarlton.com.

Header Image Credit: chanakon laorob | Getty Images

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