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Journalist Salary

The entry-level journalist salary can vary greatly and is dependent on several different factors.   The line of work you’re looking to enter (investigative or broadcast journalism, photojournalism, sports journalism, etc), your educational background, experience, and your location all have great influence over journalism salary.  While the beginning journalist salary is often low, you have influence over how much you make by obtaining a degree in journalism, communications, or a related field. A journalism degree, combined with relevant experience, will make you more employable in what has become a highly competitive field.

journalistIf you’re a journalist, or looking to enter the field of journalism, chances are you’re fulfilling a passion, not looking to get rich quick.    A first-time job for a journalist may be as a reporter, an assistant to an editor or producer, or writing copy for a local publication..  These entry-level positions typically start out at $30,000.00 per year, but as your work your way up, your salary can increase with you.  Obtaining your bachelor’s degree in journalism or a related field will also help increase your salary as you enter the workforce.  According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average starting salary for journalism majors in July 2009 was $35,328.

Influences on the Journalist Salary

Education

A degree in journalism or a related field will increase the salary that you earn in your chosen field.  On average, a journalism major will earn $5,000 a year more in an entry level position than someone without a degree, and the difference is even greater if you have a master’s.  Begin your journalism career by requesting information from the schools listed here.

Industry

Salaries can vary greatly within journalism, depending on your niche.  Broadcast journalists may earn more than newspaper reporters, and sports writer’s pay may outpace that of fashion editors.  Here is a sample of some of the various careers and their pay:

Career Salary
Writers/Editors $64,560
Reporters $44,030
Photojournalists $29,440
News Anchor $50,957
Producer/Director-TV $50,089
News Producer $35,185
Public Relations Specialists $51,280
Advertising Managers $108,580
Social Media $55,000

Source:  bls.gov,  payscale.com

Within these fields, there are a lot of variables that contribute to greater or lesser pay, including education, experience, and the size of the publication.

Location

Larger cities typically pay more, but there is also more competition for the jobs, plus higher costs of living. A larger publication in a metropolitan area is going to be very difficult to gain employment with when you are new to the field. It makes more sense to start out with a small publication, put in the years necessary to build up your resume and portfolio, and then go after the larger publications if that’s something that interests you.

Experience

With the fierce competition over some journalism jobs, experience is critical. But how do you get it? Start while you’re still in school by getting internships with local publications or with your school paper or radio station. Freelance in your spare time, not only for the experience, but to make some additional income on the side. Take advantage of any hobbies you may have by writing articles for newsletters or blogs. Quite often you will not receive any pay, but the important thing is to get your writing published. You should also create your own website or blog, not only for the writing experience, but to increase your working knowledge of online publication. It’s very important to have the skills necessary to produce your content online, so you need to know not only how to write for the web, but how to manage and edit that content in a virtual environment. Any relevant experience you can get will help to increase your journalism salary.

Mentorship

A good mentor will not only give you career advice, but can help you secure internships, network, and make connections. They can also provide honest feedback on your work, which is critical to always putting your best foot forward. Joining journalism clubs or societies is a great place to find a mentor, and will also give you the connections to help you secure employment upon graduation.