Career Options for Journalism Majors

Earning a journalism degree can lead to exciting career opportunities. Here, we outline top job choices.

November 11, 2021

Reviewed by ACO Rankings Team
Career Options for Journalism Majors

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Journalism students often possess a passion for the truth and a heightened sense of curiosity. Many consider a journalism career their calling, rather than just a challenging job. Earlier programs required students to specialize in one traditional media, such as print or broadcast journalism. Most schools today offer traditional specialization areas while including modern digital media and non-traditional communication areas.

Many journalism programs train students to write, research, and report for various traditional and emerging media. A journalism career requires persistence, critical and analytical skills, professional connections, and a 'nose for news' gained from years of experience. A well-designed journalism program covers ethics and law as they relate to journalism.

Careers for journalism majors span many industries since the skills they develop transfer well to other fields. Graduates can explore opportunities outside of journalism jobs, such as teaching, public relations, and research.

FAQs on Journalism Careers

true Q. Do journalists get paid well?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports a median annual salary of $49,300 for journalists. Several factors impact a journalist's salary, including the state where they work and their specific field.

true Q. What kinds of jobs can I get with a degree in journalism?

Careers for journalism majors include fields such as corporate communication, content writing, news editing, and public relations.

true Q. What degree do I need to become a journalist?

Most people begin their journalism career with a journalism bachelor's degree or a communication degree with a journalism concentration.

true Q. How do I start working as a journalist?

Journalists start as staff writers, bloggers, or researchers, depending on their educational background and career goals.

How to Become a Journalist

A journalism bachelor's degree provides an excellent starting point for many journalism careers. Students take field-specific courses covering U.S. media institutions, interviewing techniques, story construction and editing, and libel laws. Enrollees take research, writing, and public speaking classes. Most programs include an internship, which gives participants first-hand experience in the profession. Degree-seekers complete their internship in their chosen specialization.

According to the BLS, newspaper, periodical, and directory publishers hire the most journalists and news analysts. The radio and television broadcasting industry hires the second-most journalists.

Journalism Specializations

The rise of digital media has forever changed the field and practice of journalism. Online news channels, social media, blogs, and other digital communication continue to redefine journalism jobs. These factors constantly reshape the journalism field itself.

Schools offer journalism concentrations in public relations and advertising, journalism design and graphics, and the three subfields below. Journalism careers in certain specialties require practitioners to earn continuing education units, certification, or a postgraduate degree. Journalists with special training in specific subfields often receive higher wages and qualify for leadership and management positions.

What Are the Education Requirements for Journalists?

Schools nationwide offer associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral journalism degrees. A higher degree often serves as a career and income booster. Individuals can launch a journalism career just as easily with an associate or bachelor's degree as with a postgraduate degree. Advancement depends as much on a journalist's instincts as it does on their education, training, and experience.

How Much Does a Journalism Degree Cost?

National Center for Education Statistics data reveal an average 2019-2020 tuition of $21,035 for in-state students. Undergraduates at private institutions paid an average of $48,965. Both amounts include room and board. Online learners paid considerably lower tuition, with an average of $9,349 at in-state schools. Distance students at private institutions paid an average tuition of $35,807. The cost of an on-campus or online journalism bachelor's will likely approximate these amounts.

Students should note that some public schools allow out-of-state online enrollees to pay in-state tuition. Since this option can mean significant savings, online enrollees should learn whether a prospective institution offers this opportunity.

How Much Do Journalism Majors Make?

Journalists with several years of relevant experience, a postgraduate degree, or industry-recognized certification usually earn median salaries higher than the current national average of $41,950. The industry and state where journalists work can also impact their salary.

Organizations that offer grantmaking and giving services pay practitioners in this field the highest average salary of $112,470. The telecommunications industry and companies that provide information services pay the next highest salaries of $87,750 and $76,400, respectively. The radio and television broadcasting industry, the second most common employer, pays an average salary of $72,880.

Journalists who work in the nation's capital earn the highest average salary at $115,980. The following states also paid journalists top salaries: New York, Georgia, California, and Virginia. Journalists in these areas make $90,450, $74,270, $73,990, and $67,140, respectively.

Career and Salary Outlook for Journalists

Well-crafted journalism programs give students many chances to develop research, writing, interviewing, and reporting skills. Graduates can apply these skills to many professional arenas, including the four below. Journalists can qualify for top management positions by gaining experience. They can also earn certifications and advanced degrees.

Career Median Annual Salary Projected Growth Rate (2019-2029)
Editor $63,400 -7%
Broadcast, Sound, and Video Technician $47,420 9%
Technical Writer $74,650 7%
Writers and Authors $67,120 -2%

Source: Bureau Labor of Statistics

Resources for Journalists

Affiliated with the News Media Alliance, API helps publishing professionals engage their audience, increase revenues, and enhance public-service journalism. API also serves the publishing industry. It provides cutting-edge research and information about organizational changes that impact journalism. ASJA provides resources for freelance writers to help them establish or grow their writing or journalism careers. The organization maintains a regularly updated job board. AEJMC members can explore scholarships and internships and access publications with the latest journalism-related news. AEJMC offers career development services such as training courses, fellowships, and postgraduate programs. The organization offers networking and mentorship opportunities for student members. IRE features training options, fellowships, and scholarships. It also hosts a job center for practitioners at every level of their journalism careers.

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