career: Journalist

What's it all about

The main aspect of journalism is to inform people of what’s going on in the world. This can mean anything from informing the public of your own thoughts on a particular matter, or literally updating your readership on important events in the news – either across the globe on in a smaller specific area.

Journalism was once confined to printed newspapers, but now there is a much broader spectrum of ways to publish and therefore more ways to be a journalist.

While newspapers still have a team of hard working journos behind them, so do online news outlets. Blogs have become a particularly popular way to publish in the last couple of years, and some companies even employ journalists to keep their content updated.



Types of Journalism

  • Video journalism
  • Broadcast journalism
  • Political journalism
  • Blogging
  • Reporting for print/online
  • Columnist
  • Court reporting

Routes in

While you can do journalism degrees, that isn’t the only way to get into the field. Apprenticeships are run by some of the biggest publications in the UK, such as BBC and the Telegraph, giving you on the job training as well as a qualification.

No matter what you decide to do, be it a degree or an alternative, you’ll find it difficult to get a job in the field without an NCTJ qualification of some kind.

The NCTJ (the National Council for the Training of Journalists) is what approves and trains all journalists and make sure you meet specific requirements. A good place to start is with your own blog, start building your own personal style of writing and practice engaging different audiences.

What skills will you need 

What skills will you need

  • Communication
  • Self motivation
  • Grammar and spelling
  • Proof reading
  • Understanding of different media outlets
  • Public affairs
  • Photography

Been there, done that


Bekah Leonard, 20 yrs old, Content Manager 

Bekah Leonard, 20 yrs old, Content Manager

“If someone said to me a year ago I would be doing an apprenticeship, I would have laughed and said ‘don’t be silly, I don’t know anything about engineering.’ Clearly, at this point, I didn’t understand what apprenticeships were. Yet here I am, almost at the end of my full time journalism apprenticeship working in London.”

“Through this apprenticeship I’ve gained independence as well as confidence in my ability and more experience than I’d have thought possible at just 20 years old.”

Bekah Leonard left school after finishing her A levels. She has wanted to be a writer since she was five, but unaware of apprenticeship opportunities in journalism had applied to several universities. She started following @unisnotforme on Twitter and saw they were advertising for an apprentice. Bekah is now in the second year of her Level 3 NVQ in journalism.


Expert opinion

Jonathan Baker, former head of the BBC College of Journalism says:

“However you seek to join the BBC, you’ll find that competition is fierce. There are always far more applicants than posts. You need talent of course but you also need tenacity and an ability to distinguish yourself from other candidates.

A university degree is not required. Many of the BBC’s top journalists did not have a university education. You might have other experience or qualifications which are regarded as just as useful or important.

The BBC is interested in personal qualities as well as educational achievements. It puts a high value on a proven commitment to a career in journalism and on qualities such as energy, enthusiasm, flair, imagination, passion, analytical skills, intellectual curiosity and a reluctance to accept things at face value. You certainly need to be literate and numerate, to be able to swiftly read into and absorb issues and arguments.”



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