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Am I going to be able to support myself, and possibly a family one day, if I pursue a career in journalism?

My mom would never tell me that I shouldn't chase after my "dream job" because of my potential salary, but she has told me that a career in journalism is one of the lowest paying professions. Should I be concerned, and quite possibly heading into another major? #journalism

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Monesha Jemia "MJ"’s Answer

Hi Lindsey:

This is a valid question. The industry is changing with digitization and media consolidation. The job market is great right now but journalism jobs are still being cut. Checkout this recent article. https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/washington-secrets/newsrooms-continue-to-cut-jobs-struggle-with-diversity

Also, know that you will find your way even if you change your major. For instance, I was advised early in my career during an internship at NBC4, WRC-TV that I did not have to major in journalism and that I could get on the job training. So, I decided to major in Political Science with plans to go to law school one day if my journalism career didn't workout. Additionally, I decided to minor in Broadcast Journalism. This worked for me and I had a plan b. Best of luck.

Monesha Jemia "MJ" recommends the following next steps:

Ask yourself--what else might I be interested in doing as a second career? Research that industry, as a plan b.
Contact your department chair at the university you attend for advice.
Write down the pros and cons to pursuing a career in journalism.
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Lashay’s Answer

Hi Lindsey:

This is a great question to start asking while a student. As long as you are not buried in student loans, you have a chance of supporting your family and yourself. Even if you have some loans, with sharp budgeting, there is still a chance of supporting yourself and a small family. I would encourage you to look at the Occupational Outlook Handbook and Onetonline.org for salaries of Journalists, or whichever job title you are pursuing. Typically, if you type in Journalist in the search box of eitiher, a list of that particular title along with similar titles will show so you can look around and compare salaries. Once you've compared those salaries, begin to look closer at the higher salaried positions and the skills and education required to determine if you are willing to gain those experiences to qualify for those positions of higher pay, or if you even like them enough to pursue them. Also, write down the costs of expenses based on conversations with parents and or other trusted adults. Include costs such as rent/morgage payments, utilities (electricity, water, gas, wi-fi), grooming costs (beautician, manicures, spa treatments), travel costs (bike, bus, train, or car payments and gas/maintenance), and entertainment (netflix, theater, live shows, travel, etc.) and savings (typicall 5% of pay or you can choose what you can save). I hope this helps and good luck!

Lashay recommends the following next steps:

Visit Onetonline.org and occupational outlook handbook (google them); type in journalist and review salaries, skills, and education required for each.
Then detemine your interest levels.
list expenses to live independently based on parents and trusted adults
Select a position that is in demand and pays a livable wage based on the total cost to live in your area
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Lore’s Answer

Lindsey,
You posted this question three years ago, but I am answering it now for current and future students who share your worry that they won’t be able to support themselves, or a family, on journalists’ salaries.

You are right to be worried. Journalists’ pay is LOW compared with the pay for most other white-collar professions.

In the state where Lindsey and I live, a newspaper chain was recently hiring reporters for the same salary they paid me in 1986. Why is that alarming? Because today’s dollar is worth just 39 percent of what it was worth back then.

Also, thousands of journalists’ jobs had been eliminated in the years before the pandemic – and many thousands more during it. It is harder than ever to get work in this profession.

Becoming a journalist is a good career choice only if you want it very, very much, if you feel you will be deprived of happiness if you do something else for a living. If you feel this way, you would be wise to take financial fitness seminars and prepare yourself for frugal living.
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