If you're interested in pursuing a journalism degree or a career in journalism, you may find yourself searching for information regarding the salaries of journalists. How much a journalist makes depends on a variety of factors.
Factors Affecting Salary
Determining salary statistics for someone in the field of journalism can be a difficult task, since many variables affect this type of employment. Salaries can vary depending on:
- Geographic location
- Type of employer, such as a public company or a government office
- Related experience, whether through internships or past employment
- Writing-related awards and honors
- Professional memberships
- Years of service with one particular employer
According to research conducted by Payscale.com, median salaries of journalists in the United States for 2014 were as follows:
- Marketing/Communications Manager: $61,020
- Technical Writer: $52,944
- Managing Editor: $52,949
- Copy Editor: $40,510
- Newspaper Reporter: $32,354
- Magazine Editor: $44,715
SimplyHired.com, another popular site for job seekers interested in obtaining salary data, reports that the average salary for journalists was $43,000.
Competition and Earning Potential
If you're disappointed by the low salaries in the newspaper industry, keep in mind that the competition for these journalism jobs is often very high. Many people are attracted to journalism careers after seeing movies and television shows depicting reporters as people who make a difference in the world. This romanticized image of the occupation, even though it's often far from reality, means employers can pay less and still attract qualified candidates.
This doesn't mean that there aren't journalists that make considerably more money than average. For example, according to Business Insider, Megan Kelly of NBC makes between $15 million and $20 million a year. In comparison, George Stephanopoulos of GMA makes about $10 million while Anderson Cooper rakes in between $9 million and $11 million a year.
Corporate vs. Freelance
Payscale.com reports that self-employed journalists show the highest yearly earnings when compared to their peers. Self-employed journalists reported earnings averaging $68,784, while those who worked for private companies reported earnings of $48,667.
Even if you decide you would rather have the stability of traditional full-time employment, freelancing on a part-time basis can be a positive experience. You'll earn some extra money and make valuable connections with other writers and editors. Additionally, supplementing your day job with freelance writing assignments is a great way to improve your portfolio. Instead of having several clips related to one publication or topic area, you'll be able to build up a diverse assortment of work samples that demonstrates the range of your talents.
An Interesting Career
Whether working for an employer or working freelance, journalists often enjoy interesting work and can indeed make a difference. If you're new to journalism, be prepared to start out with a lower salary and then work your way up.