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If you’re concerned about the salary you will earn as a journalist or in a similar role, there are a lot of factors to consider. Attaining one of the best journalism degrees from a top-rated school is just one piece of the puzzle. A degree in journalism or communications is so versatile that it prepares graduates for any number of possible career paths. Naturally, the job title you hold and work responsibilities you perform play a big role in your earning potential. Your level of experience, too, is a factor that contributes significantly to how much money you make.
The Range of Salary Possibilities
The overall median salary for media and journalism occupations is $54,780, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). However, earning potential depends a lot on job description, work environment and experience. Some journalism jobs have salaries that barely surpass the median wage for all occupations, including positions that require less education and fewer skills. For other journalism roles, the typical salary is nearly double the median wage for all occupations. Some candidates with a journalism degree may even move into senior-level roles with six-figure annual salaries.
Lower-Paid Journalism Roles
Reporters and correspondents – the professionals you may traditionally think of as journalists – are among the lowest paid workers in the field. They earn a median salary of $37,820, the BLS reported.
Reporters who work at small news organizations in small towns and who have little experience typically earn the least. Reporters who advance to roles at larger news agencies that serve larger cities tend to make more money, though they may also be under more stress, according to the BLS. With experience, reporters can also move up into higher paying roles such as editor.
Mid- to High-Paying Journalism Jobs
Not all journalists who start out in lower-paying roles stay in those occupations. For many journalism professionals, these are simply entry-level jobs that allow them to start gaining experience and networking within the industry. By using their education and experience in other capacities, these professionals can significantly increase their earning potential.
Broadcast news analysts, for example, do work similar to reporters and correspondents but earn a median wage of $56,680, according to the BLS. For editors, that median salary is $57,210, the BLS reported. Public relations specialists have a similar earning potential, according to the BLS, with a median wage of $58,020. Writers and authors earn a median salary of $61,240 per year, according to the BLS, but those who specialize in technical writing make closer to $69,850 per year.
At the higher end of the pay spectrum are senior-level roles. Plenty of management jobs are open to candidates with a degree in journalism or communications and plenty of work experience in the field. It’s not unusual for these high-level professionals to earn close to – or more than — $100,000 per year. Public relations managers and fundraising managers earn median annual wages of $95,000, while sales managers make $105,000 and advertising and marketing managers earn $116,000, according to U.S. News & World Report.
Because the job opportunities in the field of journalism and communications are so diverse, candidates have some degree of control over how much they make. They can choose a specialty or niche within the field to pursue. They can look for less stressful reporting jobs in small-town settings or aim for higher-paying roles in major metropolitan areas. They can work toward advancement in another career or even carve out a living working for themselves, earning money for every assignment they complete.