How to Become a Journalist?

Are you thinking of becoming a Journalist or already started your career and planning the next step? Learn how to become a Journalist, what skills you need to succeed, how to advance your career and get promoted, and what levels of pay to expect at each step on your career path. Explore new Journalist job openings and options for career transitions into related roles.

Steps to Become a Journalist

Journalists in small markets report stories of local and regional interest. They need to demonstrate ethical professional behavior while conducting themselves with the highest level of professionalism in all interactions with news staff and the public. Journalists need to be creative and dynamic team players who uphold the highest levels of journalistic integrity. In this article, we discuss the steps required to become a journalist.

Earn your bachelor's degree.

When becoming a journalist, keep in mind that most jobs available will require at least a bachelor's degree in journalism or a related field. Classes that will help you include research, law, and creative writing. If possible, you can take advantage of opportunities such as writing clubs or working with your school newspaper to gain experience during your undergraduate studies. Bachelor's degree options include:

  • General journalism, broadcast journalism, and photojournalism.
  • Communications and media studies.
  • Radio, television, and digital communication.
  • Communication and journalism.
  • Publishing.
  • Mass communications.
  • Media studies.

Gain work experience.

Many companies prefer to have someone who has experience in the field of journalism. Volunteering at your local newspaper or radio station while earning your degree is a great way to gain real industry experience. You can also take advantage of internships that your college offers. In addition, you can submit clips to publications such as newspapers to show that you've had your work published.

As a journalist, you may attend business conferences, crime scenes, and political events to obtain the information needed to report a story to the public. As you research, interview, and write articles, you'll gain experience establishing and maintaining relationships with public relations professionals, which can help you pursue story leads.

Working with a journalism environment will also put you into contact with editors, graphic designers, and business development specialists as you work collaboratively with them to produce the copy, photos, and videos that become part of news packages. Performing your duties of writing and reporting the news for a specific beat, such as education or local government, can help you build your professional skills and work experience in journalism.


Take tests for available certifications.

Certifications aren't needed to become a journalist, but they can help you stand out from your competition when applying for jobs. Available certificates include the CJ Certified Journalist certification as well as the CH Chartered Journalist certification. Each requires five years of experience as a journalist before applying.


Apply for a job.

Before you apply for your job as a journalist, prepare your resume. Write a cover letter specific to the company you're applying to use information specific to the position and the company. Doing so demonstrates that you've taken the time to research the job and media outlet.

Highlight your achievements and education as they relate to journalism. Be sure to read job expectations and choose those that align with your goals and qualifications. Put together a portfolio with examples of your work that you can share during the interview.


Continue your education.

Technology continues to transform the journalism industry. Just as radio and television changed the practice of journalism in the 20th century, smartphone and internet technology developments continue to create new opportunities for journalists to distribute news to audiences across multimedia platforms.

Programs for master's degrees and doctorate degrees in journalism cover advanced topics such as media ethics, multimodal news distribution, and visual storytelling. In addition to opening up new career opportunities and increasing your salary, these programs can also help you expand your professional network and build your journalism portfolio. Media organizations and research groups like the Poynter Institute also offer fellowships and workshops to help you continue your education while working as a professional journalist.

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Related Careers in the Media & Communications Industry

Interested in other Media & Communications careers? Below are occupations that have high affinity with Journalist skills. Discover some of the most common Journalist career transitions, along with skills overlap.

0% skills overlap
36% transitioned to Editor