Studying journalism might seem like it only leads to one career. But these programs teach you more than just print media. You learn critical thinking, communication skills, and how to tell a great story, just to name a few transferable skills.
There are dozens — if not hundreds — of great career opportunities outside of traditional media that you can pursue with a journalism degree. Becoming a reporter or journalist is an exciting career path, but more and more grads are taking advantage of new, alternative opportunities, from writing to marketing to public relations.
Learning how to harness and use what you’ve learned will help you start a successful career and land one of the best jobs for journalism graduates.
What skills do journalism degrees teach?
Journalism degrees teach hard and soft skills alike, such as responding to feedback and navigating complex social situations. Strong writing and communication skills are also important parts of the curriculum.
Here are some of the valuable skills of a journalist that you can use in your personal and professional life, whether you pursue journalism or a different career.
1. Working under pressure
Journalism teaches you to how to work under tight deadlines and produce high-quality content under pressure, which develops self-discipline and time management. Hitting hard deadlines is crucial in fast-paced industries like business and tech, no matter what job you’re doing.
Structuring a compelling narrative is an advantage in virtually any job. Being a good storyteller — like knowing what to include, what to leave out, and how to structure a story for maximum impact — benefits you in many areas.
Getting to know someone’s professional skills is an art, whether you’re doing job interviews or working with a new freelance client. Journalists know how to prepare before interviews, use open-ended questions, and probe unclear answers. This makes them great at working with others, doing market research, and having difficult conversations.
4. Conducting research
Writing high-quality articles requires high-quality research. Journalism students learn how to dive deep into research topics and find relevant, truthful information, whether that’s through paper archives or internet searches.
They often think outside the box to find information, a skill that works for many creative and analytical jobs.
5. Filtering, evaluating, and curating information
In a journalism degree, you learn how to determine which information to pay attention to, evaluate it for accuracy, and choose which parts are worth highlighting and communicating to others.
This fluency in handling information is incredibly valuable in many roles, including public relations (PR), copywriting, and technical or scientific writing.
6. Adhering to ethical guidelines
Journalism degrees teach a clear framework of ethics and standards. While the exact nature of these standards varies across industries, all industries prioritize truthfulness, fact-checking, and objectivity. This means journalism grads have the tools to behave with integrity at work.
7. Accepting and acting on feedback
During a journalism degree, you adjust to receiving detailed feedback on your work, working with others to edit it, and evaluating other people’s projects. These skills strengthen the feedback culture in any workplace.
17 jobs for journalism graduates
Graduates with a bachelor’s degree in journalism can work in traditional media or branch out into loosely related fields such as writing, marketing, communications, and PR. Here are some of the most common jobs you can get with a journalism degree.
Traditional journalism jobs
The number of journalism jobs is unfortunately on a decline, and they’ll fall by 9% between 2021–2031, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). That means there will be considerably fewer jobs in the field in the next decade.
But that doesn’t mean traditional journalism can’t be a good career path. In fact, people in journalism careers are overwhelmingly satisfied with their jobs. In a Pew Research Center survey, 75% of journalists said they’re proud of the work they do.
Here are some of the best jobs in traditional media along with how much journalists make.
1. Reporter or correspondent
Reporters gather information about news events or current topics, organize the information into a coherent story, and communicate the story in print or on camera. According to the BLS, reporters typically work for news organizations and earn a median annual wage of $48,370 in the US, just over the national average salary.
But as stated above, there will be a decline in the demand for news analysts, reporters, and journalists. Around 4,900 new reporter job openings will open every year. Even though it might be hard to break into the industry — even for journalism graduates — there are opportunities out there.
2. Newspaper or magazine editor
Newspaper and magazine editors oversee the content of a regular publication, which can be in a print or digital format. They decide what to cover, how to prioritize stories, and send reporters on assignments.
They also edit reporters’ work, come up with strong headlines, and coordinate the team of reporters. Magazine editors earn a median annual wage of $54,456 in the US, depending on the publication.
3. Broadcast technician
Broadcast, sound, and video technicians manage and operate the equipment in radio, television, and film broadcasts and recordings. They’re also sometimes known as broadcast and media engineers.
Technicians earn a median annual wage of $48,790 with job growth of 10% from 2021–2031, which is faster than average. Keep in mind that as a journalism major, you might need to take extra classes to learn technical skills for this job, but you have a great foundation to build on.
4. Newscast director or producer
Newscast directors focus on the concrete elements of news broadcasts: which stories to cover, which segments to present first, and which camera angles to use. News directors in the US earn an average salary of $57,872, which is a little higher than average because it’s a managerial position.
Newscast producers are similar, but they focus on the more big-picture aspects of news broadcasts. They take all of the content produced for a story and decide how to put it together into relevant, interesting news stories. News producers earn a slightly higher average salary of $65,914.
Writing and editing jobs outside of journalism
The number of news media staff has been in decline for over a decade, and AI language tools are already creeping into the newsroom. Although journalism careers are rewarding, they can be harder to find as the industry changes.
A degree in journalism doesn’t limit you to the field. Here are a few adjacent jobs you can do with journalism skills.
5. Freelance writer
Freelance writers use their communication, storytelling, and writing skills to produce content for clients. While most freelance writers create articles and blog posts, some also create newsletters, website text, important professional emails, and internal company documents.
6. Grant writer
Grant writers research funding opportunities and write high-quality proposals for different organizations. They can work for a specific company, act as a consultant, or do freelance projects. The median salary for grant writers is $57,134.
Grant writers appear under the broader fundraiser category, according to O*NET and the BLS. The job outlook for fundraisers is 11% growth from 2021–2031, which is faster than average.
7. Specialized writer
Writers who are experts in technical and scientific writing can earn higher hourly wages than typical freelance writers.
Specialized writers produce reference guides, instruction manuals, FAQ pages, and other material designed to help people use technical equipment. They earn an average annual salary of $78,060.
Editors work with authors, content writers, and copywriters to polish their work and make sure it’s free from errors. Editors earn about $63,350 per year, though the top 10% of the industry earns $129,420.
The BLS projects a decline in demand of 5% for editors from 2021–2031, but as long as there are writers, the need for editors will persist.
9. Content writer
Content writers produce detailed written material that helps businesses promote their offerings and inform consumers about their products, which can be through blogs, social media copy, or other content.
Content writers earn a median annual salary of $49,533, but the number varies depending on whether they work in-house or on a freelance basis.
10. Content manager
Content managers oversee a company’s content strategy and develop and maintain its brand identity. They use data analysis to determine which topics their team should cover, and most also oversee a team of content writers and editors. Content managers make around $67,423 annually.
Copywriters create advertising and other promotional materials for businesses and nonprofit organizations, including online ads, product packaging copy, and marketing.
Almost every industry needs writers to communicate ideas and sell their stories, whether that’s for web copy or ad text. Copywriters earn a median annual salary of $51,267.
12. Communications manager
Communications managers oversee communications specialists and teams across all kinds of industries. They help create promotional and informative materials and track their effectiveness, whether that’s for marketing or internal communication. These managers earn a median annual salary of $84,727.
More jobs you can land with journalism skills
The jobs you can get with a journalism degree can go further than what you’d expect, especially if you have additional work experience to support your skills. Here are a few more career paths you can follow with a degree in journalism.
13. Marketing professional
Marketing professionals promote the products or services of a particular organization. These jobs require strong writing and research skills, which you’ll earn from a journalism program or a marketing degree.
Marketing positions include marketing manager, marketing coordinator, and marketing analyst, just to name a few — and their salaries and outlooks vary. For example, market research analysts earn $63,920 per year with a high job outlook of 19%. But marketing managers earn $133,380 with a growth of 10%.
14. PR professional
PR professionals create and maintain the positive public image of a company or individual. This involves social media strategy, fielding questions from journalists, and organizing client schedules.
It’s a public-facing communications role that uses quite a few journalism skills, like crisis management and interviewing. Public relations specialists earn a median salary of $62,800 per year, with faster-than-average job growth of 8% from 2021–2031.
People with advanced journalism degrees, such as master’s degrees and doctorates, can use their skills to teach journalism or writing. Post-secondary teachers earn a median salary of $79,640, with the demand set to grow by 12% from 2021–2031.
16. Startup founder
Some people with journalism training opt to go into journalism-related startups. A journalism startup can cover anything from transcription services to a high-quality news outlet — it just depends on your idea.
Founders have wildly varying salaries, with some earning very little for years and others bringing in millions.
People with a background in journalism and a story to tell could consider writing a book. Like startup founders, author incomes also vary widely — but first books usually involve an advance of a few thousand dollars, plus royalties amounting to 15% of sales once the book recoups the advance amount.
Journalism is more useful than ever
Even though the demand for people in pure journalism roles is declining, the overall number of possible jobs continues to grow.
Journalism graduates can cast an ever-wider net in their job searches. And when they do apply for jobs, their writing and research skills make their cover letters and resume presentation stand out to recruiters.
If you’re worried about getting a job with a journalism degree, remember that you can focus your skills elsewhere. Some of the most in-demand jobs out there can work for you.