Journalism School: Overview of How to Become a Journalist

Journalism school provides a broad theoretical foundation in news reporting and teaches students skills used by professional journalists. Programs offered through these schools can also provide the opportunities for students to gain practical experience through internships.

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Step 1: Enroll in a Bachelor's Degree Program

Bachelor's degree programs in journalism usually include foundational courses in writing, reporting, professional ethics and the history of journalism. These courses also teach broad skills applicable to a variety of mediums, including newspapers, magazines, television or the Internet.

Upper level courses are often tailored to specific segments of the industry, such as magazine writing, photojournalism, online media or video production. Courses typically focus on acquiring certain skills, such as interviewing and reporting techniques, using graphics software, learning desktop publishing applications or devising communication strategies. Students interested in a particular field of journalism, such as business or political reporting, could consider taking supplemental courses or even earning a minor in a related field.

Step 2: Participate in an Internship

Although attending a journalism school can provide a strong foundation for aspiring journalists, experience might also be required to obtain a job as a journalist. One of the advantages of seeking formal educational training is the opportunity to perform internships for credit and gain writing, editing and journalism experience. Students can consult with their department and career advisers to find these internships. Intern duties could range from updating company websites, blogs and other forms of social media to fact-checking and copywriting.

Step 3: Consider Graduate Programs

To gain specialized training in a particular field, aspiring journalists could consider enrolling in a graduate certificate, master's degree or doctoral program in journalism. Coursework might include topics in Web content development, freelancing and international reporting. Students can also gain experience working on news production projects through the school's newspaper or broadcasting studios. Some schools offer writing workshops to help students develop their persuasive and narrative skills.

Step 4: Enter the Workforce

College graduates entering the market can look for positions in several types of companies, such as radio and TV broadcasting companies as well as newspaper and magazines publishers. Once hired, journalists might investigate and present news stories, examine documents, observe events at a news scene, interview people or employ other tactics to gather newsworthy information. To capture key ideas and information, journalists take notes, shoot photographs or capture video footage. They then organize their material to develop cohesive stories.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Your chances of finding work as a journalist will vary based on the area that you want to work in. For broadcast reporters and correspondents, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the field will see a loss of almost 4,000 jobs during the 2010-2020 time frame. Broadcast news analysts may add 700 jobs, and writers like those who work for newspapers can expect to see 9,500 jobs added during that same period of time, according to the BLS.

Data from the BLS shows reporters and correspondents earned a median salary of $35,870 in 2012. Broadcast news analysts were paid a median salary of $55,380 and writers and authors earned $55,940 that year, based on the BLS's figures. It may be worth noting that the figures for writers encompass a wide range of writers, not just print journalists.

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