Do you need a journalism degree to be a successful journalist?

Do you need a journalism degree to be a successful journalist?

The question as old as time – or perhaps more realistically as old as journalism degrees. Amber Sunner draws up the pros and cons of each option.

This was the question that I kept asking myself before I applied to study a journalism degree. I was very close to taking some form of English degree before I decided journalism was the place to be. 

If I could go back in time and talk to the umming and ahhing Amber, I would reassure her that she would love the degree.

One of the reasons I have enjoyed my journalism degree so much is that I was so sure journalism was the career I wanted when I was applying for university. If you have doubts or if you are contemplating another degree, you might want to ask yourself why you want to do either of these degrees. Is it because of the prestige? The job it could lead to? Is it because you are interested in the subject matter? You need to remember that there are so many different routes into journalism that you will find opportunities without a journalism degree. There are benefits of not doing a journalism degree too: save money, time, and transferable knowledge and skills. At the end of the day, editors look for an interest in the field, an ability to engage with the readers, determination and persistence. You do not need a degree for those.

On the other side – as someone who is currently studying journalism and working in the industry, the skills I have been learning are a great launchpad into what is now the start of my career. My degree has given me a wealth of knowledge tailored to the industry – everything I do towards my degree is designed to make me a better journalist in the future. It has also enabled me to make a lot of connections in the industry. And it led me to this job at PressPad, which I love!

I think that’s what it boils down to – your circumstances, what you want to do and going for it. So, no – you don’t need a journalism degree to have a successful career in the industry. 

One thing I would say makes your life easier as a journalist in the UK is the NCTJ qualification. Soif you are thinking of studying for a degree in journalism – please check if the degree contains the NCTJ qualification before you apply.

I hope this was a helpful reading, and do let us know what you think: Do you need a journalism degree to be a successful journalist?​