What you should know about Journalism Jobs in the UK

Internships, Advice

March 17, 2021

If you are interested in being a journalist in the UK, it’s important to know that the industry is very competitive, but if you’re passionate about writing stories you can have an incredibly rewarding career.


As an international student wanting to pursue a career in journalism there are multiple ways of entry into the much sought after industry.


Degree in Journalism

Firstly, there are journalism degrees that could be very beneficial to making valuable contacts, and developing your journalism skills. A very popular course for international students is the International Journalism PG course at City University, London - with a total of 22 different nationalities being represented in the class of 2015 cohort. A key advantage of studying Journalism in London is the access to thousands of international journalists, global media HQs, and top academic credentials. 


There are plenty of other Journalism postgraduate courses on offer at UK universities such as Broadcast Journalism, Investigative Journalism, Magazine Journalism and Newspaper Journalism - as well as Interactive Journalism, which focuses on data and digital journalism. 


The entry requirements for these courses are high. You must hold an upper second class honours degree, as well as being able to demonstrate relevant work experience such as paid work, an internship, and/or student journalism. 


Postgraduate degrees are very reputable in the industry and are for many people the key they need to snag an entry-level position at a national newspaper or media outlet. Another advantage to doing a postgraduate degree is that many of these courses (not all) are accredited by the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) which is a vital qualification for some journalism jobs. You can check which courses are NCTJ accredited here


What’s the situation for international students?

The salary needed to earn a Skilled Workers Visa if you are working as a journalist is listed on Gov.uk as being £26,500 a year. Unfortunately, many entry-level journalism jobs start at around £20,000 and it is pretty difficult to find a trainee or graduate job in journalism that pays over the going rate. However, junior editor roles and producer roles do tend to pay around this level, so it is worth applying for these positions. 


If you are still early in your undergraduate studies, it is worth thinking of applying for an internship. Summer internships are everywhere. CNN offers incredible internships at their London office, as do Bloomberg, and the BBC. Most national newspapers offer paid internships too. Internships are seen as a vital aspect of being an undergraduate student, as it is during these internships that you are likely to gain the experience and contacts that set you up for full-time jobs post-graduation. Many students end up working for the organisations that they interned for while they were at university. 


Some helpful tips
If you can speak any foreign languages please make this clear in your CV and applications. There is an almost constant need for multilingual journalists and copy-writers so by speaking more than just English you are already in a privileged position. 


As mentioned before, typical starting salaries for graduate journalism jobs are between £20,000 - £27,000 a year. The more experience you have (i.e internships and student journalism) the higher your starting salary might be. 


A significant number of journalism jobs in the UK are based in London, though increasingly more can be found across the country. Due to COVID-19, remote working has made jobs more widely accessible than ever, and moving to London in many cases is no longer necessary. 


To offset costs related to living in London, an initiative called PressPad helps young journalists in the capital by matching them with established journalists who have a spare sofa. This means you can save on rent while also making valuable connections. 


Another top tip is to scout jobs and network on Twitter - it truly remains the best online site to be on as a journalist. 


Good luck!


Written by Marco Marcelline


Marco is a freelance journalist who has written for the likes of Dazed and VICE UK. He also co-edits Kalu Mala, a zine that seeks to platform the creative talents of the Sri Lankan diaspora.
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