Journalism is a popular career choice, but that means competition is fierce for jobs with newspapers, magazines and online publishers.
Newspapers used to recruit school leavers as trainees, but that is now rare and the minimum qualification needed for an entry-level position is usually a degree. Journalism graduates who studied a course that allowed them to complete their NCTJ qualification will have an advantage when applying for trainee reporter roles, but employers will also consider people with English or media studies degrees.
Most journalists begin their career as a trainee with a local newspaper, magazine publisher, news agency or website. Jobs at this level are almost always advertised direct, rather than through recruitment agencies, and pay between £13,000 and £18,000 a year, depending on location and the size of the publication.
Once they have completed their training, staff can choose to focus on news, sport, business, features or production. Good mainstream reporters and feature writers with bulging contact books will always have employment opportunities. Rival publications will be keen to hire them and much of the recruitment is done on a recommendation basis.
However, publications that need staff with specialist knowledge, such as trade journals, tend to use editorial recruitment agencies to find the right people. Similarly, many production journalism jobs, including vacancies for sub-editors, page designers and section editors, and senior managerial positions are filled by agencies.
Salaries for permanent positions within the industry vary from £20,000 for a reporter's role on a local newspaper to six-figure packages for editors of national newspapers and high-circulation magazines. Many experienced journalists prefer to operate on a freelance basis, with their earnings dictated by how much work they can sell.