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Newspaper journalist

Newspaper journalists investigate and write up stories for local, regional and national newspapers.

Annual Salary

£14,000 to £50,000

Average UK salary in 2019 was £30,378
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

37 to 39 variable

You could work: evenings / weekends / bank holidays; flexibly

Future employment

There will be 4% more Newspaper journalist jobs in 2026.
In your local area

Day to day tasks

You could:

  • investigate a story as soon as it breaks
  • follow up potential leads and develop new contacts
  • interview people face-to-face and over the phone
  • attend press conferences
  • record meetings and interviews using recording equipment or shorthand
  • research and come up with ideas for stories and features
  • write up articles in a style that will appeal to the reader
  • sub-edit other reporters' articles for publication online and in print
  • gather and edit content produced by the newspaper's users

Working environment

You could work in an office or visit sites.

Your working environment may be emotionally demanding and you'll travel often.

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role
  • specialist courses run by professional bodies

You may find it useful to have a degree in a subject like journalism or English. This will help you develop the skills you'll need as a journalist.

You could also do a postgraduate course in journalism. Some of these are accredited by the Professional Publishers Association.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
  • a degree in any subject for a postgraduate course
For more information

You could do a college course, which would teach you some of the skills and knowledge you need in this job. Relevant qualifications include Level 3 Diploma in Journalism or Level 3 Diploma in Multimedia Journalism.

Some colleges offer the Level 3 Certificate in Foundation Journalism and courses in Shorthand, accredited by the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ).

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course
For more information

Higher apprenticeships relevant to this role include:

  • Level 5 journalist
  • Level 7 senior journalist

For more information

You could start as an office assistant or trainee reporter on a local or regional newspaper.

You'll need a minimum of five GCSE grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), including English, or equivalent qualifications. Many recruits have A levels or degree level qualifications.

Volunteering and work experience

Competition for jobs is strong, and you'll need to show you've got writing experience. You'll find it useful to have examples of your published work in a portfolio, especially if these include your name as the author.

To build up your experience you can:

  • volunteer for student and community newspapers
  • write your own blog and have an online presence on social media
  • submit articles and reviews to local papers or websites

Other routes

You can study a range of professional qualifications in journalism, accredited by the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ). These are available either online or part-time at a training centre.

If you have a degree, you may be able to do a Fast Track NCTJ Diploma in Journalism course offered by National Council for the Training of Journalists.

More information

Career tips

The NCTJ is working to promote diversity in journalism through its Diversity Fund for eligible journalism students.

Professional and industry bodies

As a journalism student you can apply for student membership of the National Union of Journalists.

Further information

You can find out more about working in journalism from the National Union of Journalists.

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You could take further training and work towards senior journalist roles with more responsibility.

With experience, you could become a chief reporter or a specialist writer, covering areas like politics, business or particular regions of the country. You could move to a national newspaper or work as a critic.

You could move into other areas such as magazine, broadcast or online journalism. Or you could work in a press office or public relations.

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has more careers information.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • knowledge of English language
  • knowledge of media production and communication
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • excellent written communication skills
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • ambition and a desire to succeed
  • persistence and determination
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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