What qualifications do I need to be a Journalist?

As a journalist you will need a good appreciation of the English language, but more importantly you will need determination and enthusiasm for the role. Most jobs, especially top journalism jobs are very sought after and no matter how many qualifications you may have, you will need to convince the editor that you are the right person for the job.

You therefore need to be very:
• perceptive - as you will need to ask the right questions at the right time
• good at English, spelling and grammar
• able to write at the correct level for your audience
• determined - to get that story at all costs!
• accurate - if you get a story wrong it could have serious legal implications!

Most journalists find it easier to start their career with a local newspaper or niche magazine, and to progress to national newspapers once they have established themselves. It is almost impossible to get a job on a major publication until you have proved yourself!

Pros
• An exciting and varied job - every story and every day is different
• A mixture of working at a desk and out in the environment

Cons
• Long and unsociable hours
• Being the first to 'get that story' can be hard
• Invading private lives can make you unwelcome

GCSEs
A minimum of five GCSEs grades A to C or their equivalent and one of which must be English.

A-levels
Although you can get into journalism without A-levels more than half of today's recruits have do have A-levels or degrees or have taken a journalism course. Most journalism courses require at least two A-levels.

Degree
Again a degree is not essential, but many of today's recruits do have degree.

Other qualifications
Many people find a qualification in journalism helps them with the range of tasks that need to be learnt for example dealing with all the types of media used in today's industry. It is worth doing your homework before choosing a course, and make sure it is an accredited course.

How long will it take to get qualified?
This really depends on the route you take. Some people will leave school and get a job on their local paper if they are very lucky. Others will take A-levels, a degree and a course in journalism, which takes much longer.

Typical salary
A mid range journalist can expect to earn around £30,000 per year. Top journalists will earn much more than this.

Useful websites
The National Council for the Training of Journalists www.nctj.com