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How Much Do Journalists Make

By David Krug 8 minute read

A job in journalism may be appealing to a wide range of people, including those who have a desire to gain the inside scoop on breaking news stories, unearth hidden facts, expose wrongdoing, or just provide entertainment. Concern regarding earning potential might keep you from following your dream of working as a journalist even if you’ve always had the desire to do so.

Journalism may not have a reputation for being a financially rewarding profession, yet it is feasible to make a livelihood as a journalist. If you want to work as a journalist, you’ll need the necessary training and experience to build an impressive portfolio of clips.

What to Know About Journalism’s Highest-Paid Jobs

As a writer or someone in a comparable position, there are many things to consider when it comes to your income. If you’re worried about the poor earning potential for journalists, keep in mind that this may not be the case. Although journalism positions don’t pay very well, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, their median incomes are higher than the national average for all occupations (BLS).

As a journalist, you’ll need to put in the time and effort necessary to land one of the highest-paying positions. As you prepare for a profession, your education is an essential component. As a journalist, a Master of Arts or Master of Science degree in journalism may help you make the maximum money. These positions, such as managing editor, are open to graduates with this degree.

Getting a degree in journalism from a prestigious university is only one part of the jigsaw. Getting a better-paying job in journalism is also a priority. Graduates of a journalism or communications degree can pursue a wide range of employment options, some of which are more lucrative than others. To a large extent, one’s salary is determined by one’s job title and the duties they do. Even your degree of expertise has an impact on how much money you earn.

Candidates have some influence over their earnings potential in media and communications because of the wide variety of positions available. They have the option of narrowing their focus to a certain subset of the field. Small-town reporting employment might be found, or they can seek higher-paying positions in urban regions.

They can pursue a career in writing, editing, or public relations, all of which are closely tied to the field of journalism. Because of the bleak prognosis for journalistic careers, there is a lot of competition for the best positions. Job losses are predicted for reporters and correspondents at 11% and for editors at 7%, respectively, according to the BLS.

Is Journalism Remunerative?

BLS estimates that in 2020 the median wage for journalists, correspondents, and television news analysts will be $49,300. A salary of $41,950 isn’t awful when compared to the national average for all jobs, which is $41,950. It’s critical, though, to put this number into perspective.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), bachelor’s degree holders may expect to earn $1,248 per week, or $64,896 per year. Compared to other careers that demand the same amount of education, journalism’s remuneration isn’t quite as high as one might expect.

In spite of all this, there are still some high-paying journalistic positions. Journalism positions in certain businesses pay far more than similar responsibilities in more traditional workplaces. Senior staff reporters and managing editors make significantly more money than entry-level professions in journalism.

Because they may market their stories to other magazines and are paid by story or word rather than per hour, freelancing or self-employed journalists can sometimes make more money than staff journalists.

A journalism degree does not limit your options to working as a journalist. In addition to well-paying managerial positions, a journalism degree may be useful in a variety of other fields that require research and writing.

Journalism-Related Occupations and Their Salary Potential

According to the BLS, the total median compensation for media and communication jobs in 2020 was $61,310. However, the complete spectrum of journalism job incomes includes positions with earnings much below the median salary for all occupations as well as positions with wages nearing six figures.

Your income potential in journalism is highly dependent on your job description, workplace, education, and experience. In general, journalism careers with pay just over the median salary for all occupations involve roles requiring less education and less abilities. The average income for other journalistic positions with more broad obligations and more advanced abilities is approximately double the national median wage.

The highest-paying occupations in journalism are senior-level and managerial positions. The BLS reports a compensation gap of almost $150,000 between the lowest- and highest-paid 10 percent of TV news analysts.

Journalism Pay Rates at the Bottom of the Pay Scale

To begin, consider a job in journalism, where the pay isn’t as outstanding. In terms of pay, reporters and correspondents – who are typically thought of as “journalists” – are among the lowest-paid professions in the industry. This median hourly earnings is just $23.70, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The average salary for reporters and correspondents is $66,000 per year or $31.73 per hour, which is much more than the median. Those journalists who make more money are paid so much more than their colleagues that the average wage figures for their profession are positively biased because of their higher compensation. Median incomes for reporters and correspondents are significantly higher than the mean pay, demonstrating the wide range of wages in this profession.

What are the determinants of your ability to earn the meager wages associated with a career in journalism? Reporters with minimal experience who work for tiny print news companies in small towns make the least money. In 2020, the median pay for journalists working for newspapers, magazines, books, and directories was about $37,900.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), journalists who rise to positions at larger news organizations that cover larger cities tend to earn higher money. As a result, journalists in big cities may have to deal with higher levels of stress and higher living expenses.

Small-town reporters can rise through the ranks to become editors, but there are less prospects for editors in these locations and workplaces than for those in larger cities.

High-Paid Journalism Positions

Despite the fact that many journalists begin their careers in low-paying positions, not all of them remain there. In the eyes of many media professionals, these positions are just entry-level positions that allow them to gain experience and build contacts in the business. These experts have the potential to make substantially more money if they use their knowledge and skills in different ways.

Most reporters, news analysts and correspondents work for either the radio and television broadcasting industry, accounting for 32 percent of the occupation, or the newspaper, periodical, book and directory publishers industry, which employs 35 percent of the workforce. Journalists, on the other hand, can actually earn more money by taking on less traditional jobs.

In 2020, the median annual wage for the 10% of workers in “other information services” was $73,300, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As of 2020, journalists in the radio and television broadcasting sector may expect to earn a median salary of $55,030 per year.

You could also use your journalism education for careers outside of reporter and news correspondent. As of 2020, the BLS reported that writers and authors received a median annual pay of $67,120; those who specialize in technical writing earned an average annual salary of $74,650. The BLS estimated that the median compensation for editors in 2020 was $63,400, with managing editors and executive editors earning the most.

Public relations specialists have a similar earning potential, according to the BLS, with a median wage of $62,810 in 2020. In many aspects, public relations experts are comparable to journalists in that they interview persons engaged in a given subject and produce articles, photos, videos, and multimedia resources to convey that narrative. As part of their job, public relations experts frequently work with journalists and other members of the media, proposing their stories for publication.

However, while journalists are supposed to be impartial and report news, public relations specialists’ job is to shape the public image of their organizations or the clients for which they work. As a result, public relations tales always have an aspect that is favorable to the organization they are attempting to promote. This is obviously true.

Some journalists go the freelancer route. When working as a freelance writer, you are paid for each job you complete and submit to a variety of media. Salary.com reported an hourly wage range between $21 and $29 for freelance writers in 2021, but those with extensive experience or specialized skills can earn a great deal more.

The highest-paying jobs in journalism

At the top of the wage scale are senior-level positions. Reporters, correspondents, and news analysts with senior-level experience are most likely to earn the highest wages in journalism. 

According to the BLS, in the 75th percentile of the occupation, journalists in these positions earn $38.92 per hour, or $80,950 per year. The 90th percentile of reporters, or the top 10 percent of earners in the industry, earned $ 61.24 per hour, or $127,370 annually.

What are the salaries of journalists who advance to editorial leadership positions? According to Pay.com, executive editors earned a median compensation of $98,109 in 2021, with a typical salary range between $88,106 and $110,791. With a job title such as managing editor, your earning potential increases. According to Compensation.com, the median salary for managing editors in 2021 was $103,300.

Numerous managerial positions are available to applicants with a degree in media or communications and extensive professional experience in the sector, especially if they also possess an advanced degree. It is fairly uncommon for these high-level specialists to make $100,000 per year or more.

According to the BLS, public relations managers and fundraising managers had a median annual salary of $118,430 in 2020. The BLS reported a median annual pay of $132,290 for sales managers.

If you desire a career at the crossroads of media, communications, and business, you may wish to pursue positions in advertising and marketing. In 2020, the BLS stated that advertising and promotion managers received a median pay of $133,460, while marketing managers earned a median compensation of $142,170.

Writing articles that win prestigious awards, such as the Pulitzer Prize, may also enhance your journalistic profile and enable you to earn more money.

Master of Journalism Degree Salary

There are no guarantees in journalism, but it can help you go from mid-level reporting to senior-level reporting or from reporter to editor with a graduate degree. Having a master’s degree in journalism does not guarantee a boost in your salary.

Despite this, the BLS found that in 2020, American employees with a master’s degree earned about $13,000 more per year than those with a bachelor’s degree. A master’s degree in journalism, together with relevant experience and a strong portfolio, should lead to a greater salary for a reporter in their field, regardless of location or newspaper size.

Salaries in the $60, 70, or 80 thousand dollar range are not uncommon for those who have earned a master’s degree in journalism or in communications, and those at the top of their fields may expect to make well into the seven figures.

David Krug

Author