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What to Do With a Journalism Degree

Updated on November 26, 2010

If you have a journalism degree, the job market can seem like an exercise in futility as journalism jobs get reduced further and further each year. In the pat two years there have been thousands of journalism layoffs from newspapers and magazines of every size, and in the newspaper world, there weren't a glut of jobs to begin with. So, if you have a journalism degree, are there jobs in journalism available, or do you have to give up on working in the field completely?

In truth, you can do either. There really are journalism jobs out there, though they are extremely competitive and you may have to relocate if you are set on working in print journalism. Here are a few ways to use a degree in journalism.

Finding Print Writing Jobs Online

Newspaper jobs, and possibly magazine jobs, are often the focus of a journalism jobs search. There are a number of great websites that can help you to find the remaining jobs in the field. Ironically, they are easier to use than hunting down various newspapers, and the process is far less expensive. With journalism job sites, you can find jobs from all over the world rather than simply the ones in the local area. And, these sites are searchable for the type of writing you want to do and often the location you want to work in.

Another plus is that the two sites listed below take their job listings pretty seriously, unlike more general job sites (cough, Monster.com, cough), and it screens the listings for their appropriateness. These two sites are extremely useful resources if you are determined to stay in print journalism.

Become an Editor

Becoming an editor is a good way to stay in the writing field and to keep your skills sharp. People with a journalism degree make great editors because they are intimately familiar with the specifics of grammar and word usage. Editing isn't easy, but many people find it less stressful than writing. 

Editing can be done online or offline, for print publications or for virtual ones. Newspaper copyediting jobs can be hard to come by because of the layoffs, and magazine editing may require internships and networking to get. However, if you find it difficult to get on with either of them, there are many other directions to go in. Trade publications remain a strong market, and it seems that new ones are popping up all the time. Those publications need copyeditors just as much as any other publication, and there are hundreds to choose from. 

Online editing is an easier job to get because there is such a pressing need for editors. You can get a job with a so-called content mill, such as Demand Media or Internet Brands, and earn a small fee for each article edited. You can also get hired to editor for an online publication that pays a salary or hourly rate for editing. 

Another option is to become a freelance editor who works on various projects for a variety of clients. You can find these on sites like MediaBistro, on classified sites like CraigsList, on forums that are geared toward online marketing or writing and through bidding sites like Elance and Guru.

Online Writing

One of the major markets open right now to people with a journalism degree is online writing. Those with little education and experience can do well in online writing, particularly content writing, if they put in the effort. So, just imagine the leg up you will have by entering the scene with your journalism degree.

Online writing can be broken down into many different types, including online magazines, blogs, Web content writing, online PR and Web marketing. All of these types of writing require a detailed understanding of language and communications, making a journalism graduate the perfect candidate for any of them.

The pay for online writing varies widely with anything from minimum wage to six figures possible. The amount you make depends on how good you are, the types of projects you choose, the hours you put in and how effectively you market yourself. I have personally known people to make anything from about $6-$7 an hour to about $180,000 a year through online writing. From what I have observed, most of them tend to average about $40-60K a year. If you've been a print journalist before, you know that this is pretty on par for what you could expect in that industry, and often much higher. In my own online writing, I make about triple what I did as a newspaper reporter.

The type of payments for each type of writing varies, but it is often done on a per-piece basis. Web articles, sometimes called content articles, are generally done with a payment for each article. However, there are a few companies that do pay an hourly wage for researching and writing content articles. There are also a large number of companies that pay a percentage of the revenue that each piece earns. With these companies, you may continue earning on those articles as long as the article is online, or there may be a time limit on your earnings. Be sure to check the policy of website before writing for them. 

Public Relations Jobs

Public relations is a traditional career for those who get a degree in journalism. Though some who start out in print or TV jourmalism abhor the idea of ever going into PR, others see news reporting as a stepping stone to PR. However you feel about it, PR jobs do tend to pay more than reporting jobs, and there is no shortage of them to be found. It is true that there are fewer in-house PR employees these days as companies have start to outsource many of these tasks, but if you find a lack of in-house PR jobs, look to local PR agencies or online. 

Online PR jobs are easy to find, and a degree in journalism will give you an advantage over many of the people who already do this. There are smaller projects that you can take on, such as writing one press release or one media kit for a client. There are also larger projects, such as writing and submitting multiple releases, writing bios and brochures, etc. You may find one or two companies who want ongoing work from you, making it easier to make a steady income from these writing jobs. 

To get started offline, you don't have to go any further than your local phone book. Look for public relations or marketing agencies and call to ask for an appointment. If you can sell yourself to them, you can sell the clients' products. You can also call various local businesses and ask whether they need any PR work done. Many do but have been putting off the task of finding someone.

To get started online, look on Craigslist and browse the projects available through Elance and Guru. Some of these projects will be low paying, but if you don't have much experience that may be a good place to start. 

Comments

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    • Danette Watt profile image

      Danette Watt 

      7 years ago from Illinois

      I totally agree with dallas93444 - you must be flexible if you are in journalism.

    • dallas93444 profile image

      Dallas W Thompson 

      7 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      Becoming resilient and flexible would be a key ingredient. Thanks for sharing.

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