Are you thinking about pursuing a career in journalism but don’t have the time, money, or desire to go to college? Wondering how to become a journalist without a degree?
Journalism is a profession that has seen a lot of changes in recent years.
With the rise of the internet, traditional print media is struggling to stay afloat. Newspapers are shedding staff and cutting back on expenses, and magazines are moving more and more of their content online.
But even with all of these changes, journalism is still a viable career option for those who are passionate about writing and have a nose for news.
If you’re thinking about a career in journalism, but don’t have a degree in the field, with online learning platforms like LinkedIn Learning and Skillshare there are still ways to get the training you need to break into the business.
Here’s what you need to know about how to become a journalist without a degree.
What is a Journalist?
A journalist is someone who collects, writes, and distributes news and information.
Journalists work in a variety of different settings, including print media, television, radio, and online media.
The job of a journalist is to report the news in an accurate, unbiased, and fair manner. Journalists gather information from a variety of sources, including interviews, observation, research, and personal experience.
Depending on the industry, journalists perform different duties.
For instance, a journalist working in television will often be responsible for writing news scripts and conducting on-camera interviews. A journalist working in radio will typically focus on writing and producing audio stories. And a journalist working online will typically be responsible for writing articles and creating multimedia content.
So, the day-to-day work life of a journalist can vary depending on the type of media they work in.
But ultimately, all journalists share the same goal: to report the news in an accurate and unbiased manner.
What Skills Do You Need to Become a Journalist?
Not everyone can become a journalist. Journalism is a career that requires a certain skill set for success.
The top skills needed to become a reputable journalist include:
- Research. Reporting facts and stories- the primary duty of a journalist- requires strong research skills. A good journalist needs to be able to find information quickly and efficiently. And they need to be able to evaluate the reliability of their sources. For instance, a journalist working on a story about a new medical treatment will need to interview medical experts and research scientific studies to ensure that their story is accurate and unbiased. Or, a journalist working on a story about a local politician will need to interview the politician and research their voting record to ensure that they are accurately representing their views.
- Writing. Journalists must be able to communicate clearly and concisely in writing. They need to be able to tell a story using only the facts, and they need to be able to do it in a way that is interesting and easy to understand. For instance, a journalist working on a story about a new medical treatment will need to be able to explain the treatment in layman’s terms, and a journalist working on a story about a local politician will need to be able to clearly articulate the politician’s views.
- Communication. More than most people, journalists need to be excellent conversationalists. They need to be able to quickly connect with people, build rapport, and get them to open up. This includes active listening. Active listening is a key skill for journalists. They need to be able to understand what people are saying, even when they’re not being entirely straightforward. Journalists also need to be able to articulate their thoughts clearly. This is important both for interviews and for writing. They need to be able to ask questions that elicit the information they need, and they need to be able to communicate their findings clearly and concisely.
- Organizational skills. Journalists need to be able to keep track of a lot of information. They need to be able to organize their thoughts, and they need to be able to keep track of deadlines. This means that journalists need to be excellent at time management. They need to be able to juggle multiple tasks and prioritize their time effectively. For instance, they might need to be able to interview a source, do research, and write an article all on the same day.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Becoming a Journalist
College degrees are great, but they aren’t necessary to have a successful career in journalism. Many of the most successful journalists today don’t have any formal education in journalism at all.
So how do you become a journalist without a degree? Here’s a step-by-step guide:
1. Take Online Courses
While a college degree isn’t necessary to become a journalist, there are some courses that can help you develop the skills you need. Online courses can be taken on your own time and at your own pace, and they usually last for a few weeks or months.
Look for courses that focus on the specific type of journalism you’re interested in, as well as courses that focus on the technical skills you’ll need, like writing, editing, and photography.
Online learning platforms like Coursera, Skillshare, and LinkedIn Learning offer certificate programs in courses that can help you develop the skills you need to be a successful journalist.
2. Get Experience
One of the best ways to learn about journalism is to get experience. This can be done in a number of ways. You can apply for internships that will give you the opportunity to work with experienced journalists. You can also get involved with student media organizations, which will give you the chance to try your hand at a variety of journalism roles.
You can also find and shadow a mentor. This is someone who can guide you through the ins and outs of the profession and help you develop your skills.
3. Build Your Portfolio
Your portfolio is a collection of your best work. It’s a way to show potential employers what you’re capable of, and it’s a way to make yourself stand out from the competition.
You can easily launch a nice portfolio website without being a designer by using Squarespace or Bluehost to get started.
Start by including your best writing samples. If you don’t have any published work yet, that’s okay—you can include unpublished work as well.
You can also include links to any blog posts or articles you’ve written, even if they’re not journalism.
Once you have a portfolio, start sharing your work on social media and with your professional network.
Journalism is a profession that relies heavily on networking. The more people you know, the better your chances of landing a job.
So make an effort to meet as many people as you can. Attend events, introduce yourself to new people, and connect with people on social media. When networking, focus on meeting people who work in the field of journalism you’re interested in breaking into, as they’ll be the ones who are most likely to help you find a job. Then, foster relationships instead of just trying to make a quick connection.
5. Find a Job
Once you have the experience, skills, and portfolio to back you up, it’s time to start looking for a job. Look for open positions at media outlets that focus on the type of journalism you’re interested in.
When applying for jobs, be sure to include tailor your portfolio to the job so that potential employers can that you’re a good fit. You should also highlight any relevant experience and skills you have in your cover letter and resume.
If you weren’t able to gather as much journalism experience, you may want to consider applying for an entry-level position, such as an editorial assistant or a production assistant. These positions will give you the opportunity to learn about the industry and potentially move up into a journalistic role.
A Final Word on Becoming a Journalist without a Degree
A career in journalism can be extremely rewarding, you get to play a role in informing the public and shaping the world around you.
Luckily it doesn’t necessarily require a college degree.
With the right experience and skills, you can become a journalist without spending four years and a lot of money on a degree.
So if you’re passionate about writing, telling stories, and investigating the truth, don’t let the lack of a degree hold you back from pursuing your dream career.
Do you have any questions on how to become a journalist without a degree? Let us know in the comments below!