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Find Out How to Pursue a Career in Reporting and News Correspondence

Working in media is an attractive option for many people around the world. Although what we view as media is changing rapidly thanks to big leaps in technology and telecommunication, there is still a need for individuals with confidence, presence and great communication skills to report live, in studios, on news shows and even in an entertainment capacity.

Quick Facts: Journalism Industry
Median Pay:   $42,413 per year | $20 per hour
Entry-Level Education:   Bachelor's degree
Work Experience:   None
Number of Jobs, 2014:   96,000

Journalism Occupations:

  • Broadcast news analysts$61,450
  • Reporters and correspondents$36,000
  • Radio and television announcers$29,790

This kind of career is not necessarily the right fit for someone who is shy or who won't be able to handle rejection, but it can also be incredibly fulfilling for the right candidate.

If you have ever dreamed of being on television reading the nightly news, or of writing a column in a newspaper, then find out more about what it takes to find success in this industry, what the education prerequisites are, places where reporters can work, the average salary in this field and what the future of news reporting looks like.

What News Correspondents Do

Perhaps the most important thing to discuss is what, exactly, a typical news correspondent might do on a regular basis.

Even though a reporter or correspondent spends just minutes a day on the television screen, their day is filled with related activities.

Some news professionals have to research their stories alone, which takes up a majority of their time. This can be stressful work, and they may get nothing more than a single suggestion from a news editor or a phoned-in tip to work from.

An increasing number of news writers and journalists need to update their columns, blogs or interviews directly onto news websites, which also takes time.

Those who report the news live have to travel to various locations, and studio reporters rehearse key segments, research their guests in advance and sit in makeup and hair styling to appear camera-ready when recording begins.

Educational Requirements to Work as a Reporter

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employers who are looking to hire a news reporter, news writer, news analyst or correspondent will typically only seek out those who have a minimum of a bachelor's degree in a related field. The most common degrees in this industry are journalism and communications, but English may also be a viable option for an aspiring news writer.

While studying any of these majors, the classes that will be most helpful for someone eager to break into the media industry will be things like articulation, rhetoric, media industry studies, photojournalism, editing, investigative journalism and visual communications.

Typically, a four-year bachelor's degree in any subject can be completed by students through a more traditional college campus or from the comfort of home thanks to an online degree program. Online degrees are often preferred by busy students or those with part-time or even full-time jobs. 

Various Locations For Employment in this Field

When this job comes to mind, many people immediately assume that the only companies hiring are major news stations or local channels. However, there are numerous places where a reporter, journalist or broadcast news analyst could find work in the United States.

Some individuals find work with radio stations, and others with online news websites. Journalists might create a news app for smartphones, contribute to an online blog or write editorials for major newspapers like the Wall Street Journal.

Magazines, television shows, radio stations and more all need trained individuals to tackle these challenging and exciting careers in the media. In this industry, working part-time or as a freelance reporter is not uncommon, and long hours before deadlines are also typical.

Typical Salary for a Reporter or News Correspondent

The average salary for someone in this field can fluctuate tremendously depending on a variety of different factors. According to the BLS, the average salary for a reporter or correspondent in 2012 was $35,870.

However, the median for broadcast news analysts, or those who tend to appear on screen for news shows, was much higher at $55,380 per year.

As with many different types of jobs, the highest salaries tend to go to those who excel in their field, are located in major cities with higher costs of living and who have several years of experience or recognition in the local community and among their primary demographic.

Traits of Successful News Professionals

Having a bachelor's degree in a subject like journalism, broadcasting or communications is a great place to start if you want to pursue one of these careers, but getting to the top of the industry will also require plenty of hard work, dedication and natural ability.

Some of the traits seen among the most successful professionals in the media include excellent verbal and written communication skills, perseverance, a very strong work ethic and an outgoing personality that encourages others to speak with you and form meaningful networking connections.

Predictions For the Industry's Future

A big concern for many people eager to begin a career in media is the fact that, as a whole, the industry is suffering as it transitions from print-based media to Internet-based news stories. Even the BLS predicts that the demand for professionals in reporting and correspondence will decrease by 13% over the next decade, which might be discouraging to some.

However, the key is to think about the new opportunities opening up in the field. News bloggers can create their own revenue streams, and anyone with great writing skills can create their own website for editorials. There is certainly potential for those willing to work hard toward their goals.

Similar Careers Within the Same Field

Along with the self-employment options in reporting and correspondence, there are several similar careers available within the field of media, many of which have a more positive job outlook. Aspiring media professionals might want to consider jobs like that of broadcast and sound technicians, camera operators, public relations executives and technical writers.

While this field is certainly a competitive one, earning a bachelor's degree in communications or journalism could be the first step towards a successful career as a reporter, journalist or correspondent.