Find out how to break into the competitive world of journalism


The world of journalism is fast paced, creative – and competitive. Specialise in a format (broadcast, online) or area (sports, investigative, entertainment, political). Find out how you can build experience and stand out. Discover what it’s like to work in journalism and get inspired. 

According to The Future of UK Journalism report published in 2020, the number of journalists in the UK has followed a general upward trend. In 2019, 81,000 journalists were employed in the UK, and almost 34,000 of these were freelancers. 

What are the common routes into journalism? 

An undergraduate degree in journalism is one route; a postgraduate qualification (after an undergraduate degree in another subject) is the main alternative. 

When researching courses: 

  • decide whether you would like to specialise, e.g. TV, Sports Journalism, or undertake a multi-platform journalism course
  • determine whether the course offers a work placement and provides networking opportunities 
  • check the course is accredited by The National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) or Broadcast Journalism Training Council (BJTC).

NCTJ – Accredited course search

BJTC - Students

According to a Diversity in Journalism report published in May 2022, there is good progress with gender balance as the proportion of women in the industry has increased. View the full report:

NCTJ - Diversity in Journalism 2022

What's it like?

It can be very demanding, requiring qualities such as the ability to work under pressure, persistence, creativity and research skills. 

Use these profiles of common roles within this sector to see what each role involves, how to get into it, what salary to expect and who the major employers are: 

Job profile: Broadcast journalist (Prospects) 

Job profile: Magazine journalist (Prospects) 

Job profile: Newspaper journalist (Prospects) 

Job profile: Press sub-editor (Prospects) 

Job profile: Science writer (Prospects) 

The independence of a freelance career may appeal to you. Bear in mind that it comes with the lack of a guaranteed regular income or supportive colleagues, and the constant need to pitch to editors to commission your work. Editors tend to commission people whose work they are familiar with and who have solid experience and well-developed skills, so it can be difficult to begin your career as a freelance journalist. Consider working as a staffer (i.e. an employee of an organisation) for a few years first, to enrich your portfolio, boost your profile and make those valuable connections. have produced a handy glossary of journalism terms you may encounter: 

Glossary of terms related to journalism 

Our Creative and Cultural Careers is a great opportunity for University students and graduates to get an insight into the creative sectors, including journalism.  You can find our next event here:

Creative and Cultural Careers

Building experience and getting started 

Relevant work experience is essential and competition for opportunities is high. Don’t rely on finding advertised opportunities – be proactive and creative in your research. Use our suggestions to help you get started.

Build a portfolio of your work; start by writing for student newspapers and magazines. Showcase your skills – self-promotion is key. Don’t wait for permission to write; set up a blog on a free platform such as WordPress and open relevant social media accounts to make connections.

To get ideas for content, try using Google Trends.

Google Trends 

Volunteer for roles within student societies such as FreshAir,  the Television Society (EUTV) and The Student (Newspaper). Find out more about these and other related societies: 

Edinburgh University Students’ Association – Find a society 

Platform One is an online network of Edinburgh alumni and others. People are on there because they want to help, so it’s a great place to start – it’s possible that you might find a contact whom you can ask for tips: 

Platform One 

Become a member of Creative Edinburgh to access events and monthly meetups – membership is free. Explore their community directory to find members to connect with by selecting ‘journalism’: 

Creative Edinburgh 

Pitch an article to The Tab, a website which covers youth and student culture: 

The Tab - Submissions 

Journo Resources lists free UK mentoring schemes for aspiring journalists and available funding to assist with further study, projects and training. They share job opportunities including internships and part-time roles. They also host journalism masterclasses:

Journo Resources 

Women in Mentoring, a not for profit organisation who supports women who want to make it into journalism, offers mentoring schemes:

Women in Mentoring

Read the following article from TargetJobs, which provides information on how to make it into the industry after graduation:  

TargetJobs: Getting graduate work experience in journalism

Creative Access, a social enterprise, supports people from under-represented backgrounds. They operate across all creative sectors, including journalism: 

Creative Access 

Many opportunities will not be advertised. Consider making speculative applications to local newspapers, radio and TV stations. Our webpage on creating your own opportunity gives more advice on this speculative approach:  

Create your own opportunity 

Where can I find job vacancies? 

Check MyCareerHub for vacancies:

MyCareerHub - Opportunities

Journo Resources regularly lists media and journalism graduate schemes or traineeships in the UK. This is usually updated on a weekly basis:

Journo Resources 

View vacancies on professional associations and trade press websites such as:


Sign up for the Freelance Writing Jobs weekly newsletter which advertises paid freelance and part-time writing jobs, and lists editors who are actively seeking pitches: 

Freelance Writing Jobs  

Find out more

Sports Journalists' Association - for those interested in Sports Journalism

Our blogs on Journalism might offer you an insight into the world of journalism. Read them here: