Career Options for Journalism Majors

In a world characterized by increasingly conflicting sources of information, we need well-trained journalists more than ever. Technology and the internet have made it easier for news sources to reach audiences, but they have also created new challenges for journalists and their audiences.

Journalism remains a popular career field for strong thinkers and communicators who are interested in current events. A journalism degree can also prepare you to work in other industries, such as public relations and advertising.

A successful journalism career depends on building professional connections and a strong professional portfolio. This guide offers an overview of major career options in the field, along with strategies to increase your job prospects before you graduate from college. You can also read about several nontraditional career paths for journalism majors and peruse a list of professional resources that serve both aspiring and professional journalists.

How to Use Your Journalism Degree

Journalists call on an assortment of skills to research and report news stories, and journalism programs stress equivalently varied sets of competencies. Below, you can learn about skills journalism programs develop in students and how these apply to journalism careers and other fields of employment.

Learn More About Online Bachelor's Degrees in Journalism


    What Skills Will You Gain With a Journalism Degree?

    • Written Communication

      A primary skill for journalists of all types, clear and concise written communication figures into newspaper stories, emails, and scripts for video and audio segments.

    • Research

      Research forms another key component of journalism, as journalists must identify and evaluate sources and then effectively incorporate them into news stories.

    • Interviewing

      Human sources play a major role in many forms of reporting, and journalists must learn to engage with interview subjects effectively, building trust and asking engaging questions.

    • Storytelling

      In addition to gathering information, journalists must also present content in a compelling manner for audiences. This skill applies to fields like advertising and public relations, as well.

    • Critical Analysis

      Evaluating sources, determining viewpoints, and synthesizing opposing perspectives all play a major role in journalism, and these skills also apply to most other professional fields.

    • Technology Skills

      Given that much of modern journalism occurs online, journalists need technical skills to convey their work effectively. Many programs now cover topics like social media and search engine optimization.

    How Does a Journalism Degree Help You in the Job Market?

    Journalism should remain relevant as long as humans still want new information about current events. However, the field has seen its share of setbacks in the 21st century as some media companies have struggled to adapt to an evolving digital landscape. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 9% decline in journalism jobs from 2016-2026. Several factors contribute to this decline, including dwindling newspaper circulation rates and a pronounced shift to online platforms, which typically yield lower ad revenues.

    As media companies consolidate their ranks, competition for journalism careers has become fiercer than ever. Substantial professional experience — often gained through internships and/or graduate education — typically serves as a key factor that can distinguish you from other candidates. The shrinking job market in this field has also pushed journalists into other areas that utilize similar skills but promise higher job growth, such as public relations, marketing, and advertising.

Career Paths and Salary Potential for Journalism Majors

You can pursue several careers with a journalism degree. These include traditional jobs, such as reporting or editing, and less traditional pathways, such as public relations or marketing. The tables below outline common journalism careers along with less traditional options that still utilize many key journalistic skills.

Traditional Journalism Careers

Reporter

Reporters inform audiences about current events at the local, regional, national, and international level. Performing research, locating and interviewing sources, and presenting and analyzing their findings to audiences, reporters typically work for newspapers, television and radio stations, magazines, and websites. Reporters may work as freelancers or for a single media company.

Editor

Reporters and other journalists typically report to editors, who oversee content for a publication. Editors' duties include planning, coordinating, developing, reviewing, and revising all types of written content, such as magazine features, news stories, and website articles. They may also help writers develop their ideas and evaluate submissions for publication potential.

Writer

Like reporters, writers create written content for various types of media. However, they may focus less on events immediately as they happen, instead looking at the bigger picture and exploring news stories as they develop over time. Like reporters, writers may find work either as freelancers or staff employees at media organizations.

News Anchor

News anchors present news stories to the public, typically with TV stations, radio stations, or websites. They read news stories live on the air and may may conduct interviews. Anchors also offer live commentary on current events, often reacting to breaking news as it occurs.

Film/Video Editor and Camera Operator

These professionals focus on the visual side of reporting, working behind the camera to capture video footage and edit it as part of news stories. Often working on location and in office settings, these workers primarily find employment with TV news stations and websites.

Announcer

Often working in radio and television broadcasting, announcers present news, music, and other topics on the air. They may take a less active role in analyzing or commenting on news stories, though many announcers do perform interviews and provide commentary. A position as an announcer often serves as a path toward more advanced positions, such as news anchors.

Nontraditional Careers for Journalism Majors

Marketing Manager

Marketing managers develop and supervise marketing and advertising campaigns for companies of all types. Journalism majors can use their skills in research, communication, and storytelling to understand the needs of consumers and determine effective strategies to reach audiences.

Technical Writer

Technical writers create manuals and other informative documents that make complex concepts more understandable for lay audiences. Commonly employed in information technology and scientific fields, they find work in areas that employ complex, specialized knowledge. Journalism majors can find success in technical writing careers due to their strong communication skills and understanding of audience needs.

Public Relations Specialist

PR specialists work to maintain a positive public image for companies, organizations, initiatives, and/or ideas. They typically organize PR strategies and develop media programs that attempt to shape public opinion and raise awareness. This field is well-suited for journalists due to its emphasis on communication, storytelling, and audience awareness.

Grant Writer

Typically working with nonprofit or government organizations, grant writers research and create grant applications to secure organizational funding. They may also take responsibility for ensuring that grant funds are distributed and used properly. Journalistic skills in written communication and narrative construction help grant writers better reach potential grant providers.

Advertising Manager

Often working for advertising agencies or directly for companies, advertising managers oversee an organization's marketing and advertising strategies. They coordinate new ad campaigns, negotiate advertising contracts, and initiate marketing research. Journalism majors' knack for creating engaging narratives that reach audiences may make them a natural fit for this career path.

Social Media Manager

These specialists supervise an organization's various social media channels, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. They may communicate with customers, devise new social media promotions, and develop strategies to engage with audiences on social media. The job's focus on reaching audiences and communicating effectively makes it suitable for journalism majors.

Ten Ways to Prepare for Your Career

Journalism is a competitive field, and it is never too early to start preparing for a job after graduation. Education plays a huge role in your future career, but you can take other steps during school to make yourself a more competitive candidate once you're ready to enter the workforce.

1

Write for Your School Newspaper

Colleges of all sizes operate print newspapers or news websites, both of which allow you to gain experience and build a professional portfolio.

2

Intern

In an increasingly competitive job market, internships are a vital opportunity to build experience and connections that can serve you after graduation. Consider interning at newspapers, magazines, websites, and/or other media agencies.

3

Consider Other Avenues for Publication

The more varied your portfolio, the better your chances of landing a job after graduation. To build a diverse body of work, consider freelancing for local newspapers, alt weeklies, or websites.

4

Study Outside Your Major

If you have a specific area of interest that you hope to write about, such as technology or politics, consider pursuing a double major or a minor.

5

Do Not Commit to One Style of Journalism

Lines between broadcast and print journalism have increasingly blurred. Popular newspapers and magazines often use video content, so it helps to be comfortable with all types of journalism.

6

Build Professional Connections

Whether it is with your internship supervisor, professors, editors from freelance work, or classmates, the more connections you make, the better your chances of succeeding in the industry.

7

Create a Personal Website

Even if you only have a few publications to your name, creating a website can help you build your brand and give you something to show potential employers.

8

Establish a Social Media Presence

Along with a website, try to maintain an active social media presence where you share your work. Twitter is a particularly popular platform for journalists.

9

Learn to Work in Multimedia

Many employers expect journalists to be able to insert photos into their stories or even edit video; it helps to have at least a basic understanding of multimedia tools.

10

Use Your School's Career Resources

Every reputable school has a career center that can help you with your job search. Many schools also offer resume editing and interview coaching.

Famous People Who Studied Journalism

Christiane Amanpour

Job: News Anchor

Alma Mater: University of Rhode Island '83


Before becoming a CNN host, Amanpour worked at Providence's WBRU-FM and NBC-affiliate WJAR while working toward her bachelor's in journalism.

Don Lemon

Job: News Anchor

Alma Mater: Brooklyn College '96


Lemon worked at New York's WNYW during college, moving on to several local stations before landing a job at CNN in 2006.

Michael Moore

Job: Filmmaker

Alma Mater: University of Michigan-Flint (did not graduate)


Though he never completed his journalism degree, the Bowling for Columbine filmmaker clearly took the principles of investigative journalism to heart.

Natalie Morales-Rhodes

Job: News Anchor

Alma Mater: Rutgers University '94


Morales double majored in journalism and Latin American studies, demonstrating the value that training outside of journalism can have for a reporter's career.

Geraldine Brooks

Job: Novelist

Alma Mater: Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism '83


A Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, Brooks used her experience as a foreign news correspondent to write novels like Nine Parts of Desireand People of the Book.

Resource for Journalism Majors

American Press Institute

Dedicated to sustainability in journalism, API performs in-depth studies into how journalism best reaches audiences. The organization's website publishes major findings along with a regular newsletter.

American Society of Journalists and Authors

Connecting writers to jobs and other professional resources, ASJA also hosts conferences and workshops. Membership is open to writers who have published with recognized media sources.

Associated Collegiate Press

A major national organization for college-level journalism education, ACP establishes education standards and works to support aspiring journalists by providing professional development activities, including training and conferences.

Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications

Serving students, educators, and media professionals, AEJMC encourages new research and education initiatives. Members benefit from publications, trade conferences, and professional development opportunities.

Investigative Reporters & Editors

A national nonprofit organization dedicated to investigative reporting, IRE provides members with a job center, training events, fellowship opportunities, awards, and trade publications.

National Association of Black Journalists

Serving black journalists since 1975, NABJ offers scholarships, internships, professional conferences, awards, and job listings. Members also benefit from professional publications and regional programs.

National Federation of Press Women

Primarily serving women in journalism and communication, NFPW supports professional development and press freedom for female journalists. The organization hosts conferences and offers educational and professional resources.

NLGJA, the Association of LGBTQ Journalists

Supporting LGBTQ+ students, educators, and journalists since 1990, NLGJA hosts conferences and other events along with regional and student chapters across the country.

Society of Professional Journalists

Founded in 1909, SPJ counts more than 6,000 journalists among its membership. The organization offers awards, legal defense, professional resources, and an annual journalism conference.

Radio Television Digital News Association

Serving broadcast and digital journalists specifically, RTDNA provides advocacy, professional training, networking opportunities, and awards for members. The organization also offers career listings and other job search resources.