How To Become A Journalist (With Salary, Duties And Skills)

Updated 28 August 2023

Journalism is a versatile career path with many opportunities in various niches. Whether you want to work in a newsroom, write for publications or pursue video reporting, it is important to take the right steps. If you are considering a career in journalism, it might be helpful to understand the steps to becoming a journalist. In this article, we discuss who a journalist is, learn how to become a journalist, explore the different types of jobs in journalism and look at a journalist's common duties, average salary and skills.

Related: 17 Types Of Newspaper Jobs (With Duties And Salaries)

Who Is A Journalist?

A journalist is a professional who works in different areas to research and present information to the public. They may do this through different media like television, newspaper, magazines, radio, or the internet. The main role of a professional journalist is to find, write and report news stories. They may usually have the freedom to work on general news or pick a niche and work on it. This may include fields like entertainment, politics, art, fashion, sports and economics.

Apart from this, their job may also include taking photographs, reporting live events on the spot, posting on social media and producing content. A journalist may also work with different types of media platforms. At any point in time, it is possible to switch between radio, publishing, newspaper, television and editorial work.

Read more: 12 Types Of Jobs At A News Station (With Duties And Salary)

How To Become A Journalist?

If you want to learn how to become a journalist, follow these steps:

1. Earn a bachelor's degree

Although it is not always a compulsion, most employers in the journalism industry now look for candidates with a bachelor's degree. Sometimes, university graduates who have pursued English or mass communication may also be eligible for job openings. Specialising in subjects like politics, environment, economics or languages might be helpful in your journalism career. To advance your knowledge on the subject, you may opt for a master's degree or a diploma programme in journalism. These courses usually train you to write articles, learn media ethics, interview people and inform about different modes of journalism.

2. Work for university publications

Journalism is a role that may require a lot of practical learning experience. It can be beneficial to utilise the time you have while pursuing your degree to do this. Even when applying for the role of a junior journalist after graduating, demonstrating some writing experience can be very helpful. You may experiment with different styles of writing for your assignments to understand your areas of interest. If you are sure about your niche, you may approach your university publications and start publishing your work. This can be helpful in building a portfolio prior to joining the workforce.

3. Start a blog

A popular and easy way of publishing your work and making it available to a large audience is to write a blog. It can add value to your portfolio and provide you with the freedom to work on the topics of your liking. If you have already picked your niche, you may focus your blog on the same theme. For instance, if you are interested in climate journalism, you may write blogs surrounding climate crisis, sustainability and environmental updates. You may also create videos on your own to support your blog.

By working consistently on your blog, you can improve your chances of getting a job that meets your goals. Besides that, building an audience in the very beginning can give you the chance to monetise your blog later. It may also help you build a strong reader base.

4. Create your portfolio

As an aspiring journalist, you may have worked on several pieces through the years. While applying for jobs, it can be beneficial to create a portfolio that highlights your best work. It may help you organise your work and help the interviewer in understanding your working style. Your portfolio and your personal blog can help create a good first impression on employers. While curating your portfolio, it is important to focus more on quality instead of quantity. Only add work that adds value to your portfolio.

Some job applications might require you to write a sample in addition to your portfolio. Make sure you add a link to your portfolio in your resume. If you need a printed portfolio, get a good quality printout and keep it neat and simple. If you have worked on varied topics, categorising them is an easy way to make your portfolio look organised.

Related: How To Make A Portfolio: A Step-By-Step Guide

5. Apply for internships

Internships are a good way to gain experience and build contacts within the journalism and media industry. Even after gathering theoretical knowledge at your university, you can gain valuable experience by working in a professional environment. Internships may help to learn journalism skills, work with deadlines and interact with fellow media personnel. If your seniors are satisfied with your work during the internship, they may offer you a job at their institution.

When applying for entry-level jobs post your internships, make sure to add this experience to your resume. This may help potential employers understand that you come with experience. You may also request letters of recommendation from past employers and present them while applying for jobs.

6. Seek a job

Once you have your resume and portfolio ready, you may start applying for jobs. It is important to curate your resume and portfolio work in a way that matches the description of the job for which you are applying. For instance, if you are applying as a political journalist, highlight political articles in your portfolio and work experience you may have in the field on your resume.

Related: How To List Multimedia Journalist Resume Skills Effectively

If the interviewers ask you to write a work sample for the application, write it in a way that matches the tone and reporting style of the company. The more organised and relevant your work and writing samples are, the better impression it may create on the hiring manager. To find jobs as a journalist, you may search on job-search engines or ask fellow professionals about openings at their firms.

Related: How To Find A Job After Graduation? (A Step-By-Step Guide)

7. Work as a freelance journalist

Before you seek a full-time job as a journalist, you can also consider working as a freelancer. There are two ways to do so. You can either look for media houses offering freelance positions or pitch your ideas to publications and publish your work. Freelancing may add value to your portfolio and can help build contacts that may lead to full-time work opportunities.

Related: What Does Freelance Mean? Definition, Tips And Popular Jobs

Types Of Journalism Jobs

Here are types of jobs you can pursue within the field of journalism:

  • News copywriter

  • Broadcast journalist

  • News editor

  • Columnist

  • Sports writer

  • Freelance journalist

  • Photojournalist

  • Magazine writer

  • News reporter

  • Communication specialist

Related: 12 Types of Journalism Jobs (With Salaries And Tips)

Common Duties Of A Journalist

The common duties of a journalist may include:

  • Writing, editing and submitting articles or copies

  • Interviewing news sources

  • Reading press releases

  • Researching

  • Proofreading copy

  • Attending events

  • Verifying sources and facts

  • Communicating with junior journalists, editors, photographers and producers

  • Staying up-to-date with privacy and defamation laws

  • Networking and building contacts

Related: How To Become A News Anchor: A Step-By-Step Guide With FAQ

Average Salary Of A Journalist

The national average salary of a journalist is ₹22,147 per month. Although the pay may depend on multiple factors. There are many kinds of journalism, and your pay may depend on the kind you decide to pursue. Other factors like experience, location and education can also affect the average salary of a journalist.

Journalists who work as freelancers are paid per article or on a project basis. While full-time journalists are paid on a salary basis. Having a good portfolio, internship experience, writing skills, a good resume and good communication skills can help you negotiate a better salary with potential employers.

Skills Required To Become A Journalist

Listed below are the skills you may develop to succeed as a journalist:

  • Enthusiasm

  • Persistence

  • Confidence

  • Determination

  • Interpersonal skills

  • Communication skills

  • Verbal skills

  • Proficiency in local languages

  • Ability to meet deadlines

  • Creativity

  • Ethical journalism skills

  • Problem-solving ability

  • Investigation skills

  • Social media skills

  • Knowledge of digital platforms

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at the time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

Related:

  • What Does A Reporter Do? A Comprehensive Guide (With Duties)

  • Skills For A Journalist To Highlight On Resumes (With Tips)

  • 38 Interview Questions For Journalists (Plus Sample Answers)


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