The life of a journalist can indeed be a glamorous one, but like any career, you have to work had to enjoy its benefits, such as being whisked away on someone else’s money to some sunny press event in the south of Spain or even Washington to cover the US elections.
Most senior journalists and writers will tell you that they had very small beginnings, earning barely £10,000 a year writing for their local newspaper when they were 18 years old, and not much has changed in the modern day, apart from perhaps that more young journalists will have a degree behind them.
The path of a journalist or writer is quite an arduous one and one that requires a steady head and a determined character. You have to be aware that you may have to wait until you’re in your 30s to get your perfect job, thanks mainly to the massive amounts of competition within the industry, but also because journalism is about having the correct reputation in your field and the skills to match.
Where to start
Taking English and a media subject before entering university will certainly put you in good stead, as most establishments look for such a background. Then of course taking journalism or maybe even a writing course at university is the next step and is a stage in your life where it’s not just about education in the lecture theatre, but also out in the real world.
Focussing on your studies is one thing, but you must ensure you get some work experience during at least one of your three years at university; this can be a great way to help create a reputation for yourself in a certain area and it can even set you up for a job if the employer likes you enough.
Another path you could follow is to get a degree (or more) in a more specialist sector that you find great interest in, such as the medical profession perhaps, and then prove your worth as a writer later on in life. Many publications are after professionals who studied in a certain area, as they can bring with them particular knowledge to the table, as well as the ability to write. You can click here to find out more about the likes of medical writing and editing jobs.
Making some progress
Degree or no degree, every journalist and writer has to cut their teeth at the bottom of the pile for at least a small amount of time, but after you’ve made a name for yourself, you can get a little higher up the scale and start working towards the role you’re after.
The general ladder for a journalist starts with writing up low key, local stories, but as you gain confidence and knowledge, you will start going out to get bigger stories and from there you can look to specialise within a certain niche of news or features.
If everything is going to plan, you will then get to a stage where you may have the opportunity to become the head of a department or maybe even go freelance and go ahead to write for a whole host of publications. There can be a lot of money in freelance, but you have to be confident enough that publications will want your work; otherwise you can go weeks without picking up a pay cheque.
The easy route is to stick in-house and have a guaranteed wage, but such a role is sometimes restricting to those that would rather be out and about getting stories or attending fancy press events.
From there on in, the world can literally be your oyster and you can go from strength to strength and maybe even become editor of a magazine, newspaper or a journal in your more senior years.
About the author: Sam writes for Cititec who offer recruitment for a vast amount of roles that include Cititec.com PHP Jobs and medical writing and editing jobs.
This is a Guest Post for TheEmployable