Newspaper journalist

newspaper reporter feature writer

Career outlook for

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary

Currently employed in Scotland

Jobs forecast

This information is supplied by LMI For All, where data is currently available for Scotland.

What's it like?

You would investigate and research any event of interest to the public. You’d get the facts and write the story quickly and accurately to inform and entertain the readers.

If you work for a local or regional newspaper you would write stories about events like local council meetings and school fêtes.

If you work for the national press, assignments could be anything from reporting on general elections or world events.

You’d need to research and write your stories to meet tight deadlines. You’d need to make sure your reports are truthful and fair, as well as easy to read and understand.

You would:

  • Investigate a story as soon as it happens
  • Follow up potential sources of information
  • Make new contacts with people who have information for stories
  • Interview people, face-to-face and over the phone
  • Attend press conferences
  • Get details of meetings and interviews using recording equipment or shorthand
  • Come up with ideas for new stories and features
  • Write up articles in a style that will appeal to the reader

You could choose to specialise in a specific subject such as sport, politics or entertainment. Or you might work as a critic, for example, producing restaurant or theatre reviews.

Most newspapers have an online edition so you’d probably also write or adapt articles for the website.

Working conditions

Hours

You will need to be flexible about your working hours. You may be working long, irregular hours including evenings, weekends and public holidays so you can follow up stories, respond to breaking news and meet deadlines.

Environment

You will usually be based in an open-plan office, which is likely to be noisy most of the time. You may also spend time out of the office, chasing up stories.

Travel

You can expect to travel to any area covered by the newspaper. If you work for the national or international press this can mean travelling anywhere in the world, possibly at short notice.

UK employment status

Full-time

Part-time

Self employed

People behind the job

Meet real people who’ve done this job – hear their stories and the path they took to get there.

Here are some of the skills that people in this job would be most likely to have:

  • Communicating with people
  • Listening to people
  • Persuading people
  • Communicating ideas through writing
  • Using computers
  • Researching and investigating
  • Coming up with new ideas
  • Time management
  • Paying attention to detail

Build your skills

Your skills can help you choose the career that’s right for you. You can build your skills through work, study or activities you do in your spare time.

To understand more, have a look at what are my skills?

Keep track of your skills in your account and find the jobs, opportunities and courses that suit you.

Click here to view / add your skills

Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.

Foundation Apprenticeships

Choosing a Foundation Apprenticeship as one of your subjects in S5 and S6 can help you get a head start with this type of job.

You'll get an SCQF level 6 qualification (the same level as a Higher) plus valuable work placement experience and skills you can't learn in a classroom.

Interested? Find out what's on offer at your school on Apprenticeships.scot.

Qualifications

You'll need qualifications that show you have experience writing. Many journalists have a degree or postgraduate qualification (SCQF Level 10/11) in journalism or a related subject like English, communications or marketing. Other journalists may have an HNC/HND (SCQF Level 7/8).

Qualifications accredited by the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) are highly regarded by employers.

You could also get into this job through a Modern Apprenticeship in Creative and Digital Media or Digital Marketing (SCQF Level 7).

To get into Higher National Diploma courses (SCQF level 8) you require National 4/5 qualifications and one to two Highers or equivalent qualifications.

To enter a degree (SCQF level 9/10) usually requires National 5 qualifications and a minimum of four Highers at BBBC or above or a relevant HNC/HND.

Entry to a postgraduate qualification (SCQF level 11) requires a relevant degree and may require experience. 

Useful subjects

  • English (required by most courses)
  • Administrative subjects
  • ICT subjects
  • Maths
  • Social studies subjects such as media

You will also need

Journalism is a highly competitive industry. You'd need examples of your work when applying for jobs. 

Helpful to have

Qualifications and experience that show understanding of the industry, research and writing skills such as: 

  • Skills for Work Creative Digital Media (SCQF level 4)
  • Creative Industries (SCQF level 5)