Aspiring Journalists: How to Land the Job

May 8th, 2017 Mike Gecawich

Do you love the different ways words can weave together to tell a tale? Do you like to stay on top of what’s new and happening? If so, a job as a journalist may be just what the career doctor ordered.

As a career, journalism has some major plusses:

  • Lots of options to work remotely
  • Ability to freelance and be your own boss
  • Opportunity to inform people about important things
  • You get paid to learn every day

There’s huge variety in the types of journalism jobs available, including writing for newspapers, magazines, radio stations, television, and websites. The main difference between journalism and other types of writing is that journalists focus on informing the public about current news and events. It can be quite exciting to be on the front lines of breaking news.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) figures for reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts reports a median annual salary of $37,720, while the BLS puts the median salary for writers (in general) and authors at $60,250.

What Journalists Do

A journalist’s primary work is to investigate and report on news stories and current events, often working under tight deadlines. They must be skilled in crafting articles in different ways, depending on the needs of the outlet.

Key characteristics of a good journalist include:

  • Excellent command of language and grammar
  • Able to work under deadline pressure
  • Well-organized
  • Solid research skills

Journalists tend to be self-motivated, naturally curious people with a love of language. It helps to have self-confidence, so you can interview people and visit new places comfortably. The job also requires excellent typing skills; most journalists are touch-typing wizards.

Some journalists continue to work as reporters for their entire career, while others move on the become editors or even publishers.

Breaking In

The typical entry point to a reporting or correspondent job is a bachelor’s degree in journalism or communications combined with experience in an internship. Some journalists, however, land the job without a formal degree. They start at a small publication that’s eager for writers, prove their mettle, and move up from there.

An internship or a job as an editorial assistant can be a good starting point. Editorial assistants typically handle administrative tasks but also get to do some writing and editing. It’s often easier to land a job as an editorial assistant than as a full reporter.

If you want to become a journalist, typing speed is particularly important so you can push out copy to meet tight deadlines. Journalists are expected to be able to type a minimum of 60 wpm.

If you’re not there yet, it’s not too late to start working on boosting your speed with our typing lessons.

Then, when you do become a journalist, you’ll be able to focus on the story you’re writing rather than thinking about which key to press next.