Do you want a career that’s fast-paced, creative and allows you to have unique life experiences? Look no further than journalism. Journalism is an amazing career path to go down that not only provides many different career routes and opportunities but also is extremely fun. Life as a journalism apprentice is hard work, but also very rewarding. You could go from writing a piece on a local charity project to the next day interviewing an important celebrity or political figure, there are endless possibilities!
Types of journalism
There are many different genres of journalism. You may be interested in sports journalism, local journalism, breaking news or even less serious genres such as pop culture or travel. As you progress through your career, you will be able to slowly learn what your niche is and develop that. However, as a trainee journalist, I would recommend learning a varied range of genres and formats.
The different formats of journalism are TV, radio or podcasts, online news sites and social media. When looking for training, it’s best to find somewhere that will teach you all formats as a way of keeping your options open.
Most news outlets or freelance recruiters will want a multimedia journalist, someone who can not only write for them but also produce and edit video, audio and photos, so it is best to learn a varied skill set! Despite that, there is also no harm in finding your niche and fine-tuning your skills in one single format if you know for sure that it is what you want to do.
Getting your foot in the door
You can get your foot into the door of the journalism industry using many different methods however there is no denying that gaining training and building a varied portfolio doesn’t help. Most recruiters are looking for someone who can not only match the skill set they want but also have published work to prove it and they will most likely always turn you down if you do not have that.
A lot of trainee journalists will go down the university route but apprenticeships are also a very good option. The hands-on experience you gain from an apprenticeship will make you look very good to future potential employers. As well as it being a paid job where you can also develop and learn, a journalism apprenticeship is also a great way to network and additionally will help you build up your portfolio.
Most popular media outlets provide journalism apprenticeships for everyone in the UK over the age of 18 or someone who would be 18 by the time their training starts.
Breaking into journalism as an apprentice
BBC is an example of a great apprenticeship because they provide training in all journalism formats and mentoring from great senior journalists. Not to mention that they are one of the biggest broadcasters in the UK.
To qualify for these apprenticeships, you not only need the usual English and Maths GCSEs, but a portfolio of previous journalism work. A demonstrable interest in writing and content creating is also a must. On the BBC careers website, they have stated that they want someone who has “an intense curiosity about people and about what’s going on in the world” and is “an imaginative storyteller who loves producing content on different platforms including social media”.
The application process for the BBC apprenticeship is very simple. It is an online application that consists of written and video questions that centre around the applicant’s interest in Journalism. Once successful, an applicant will be asked to attend an assessment day and will put through to the second part of the application.
Journalism apprenticeships with the BBC are extremely sought after, so competition is fierce. Think about what you can do to stand out from the crowd during your application and interview.
ITN & ITV
ITN, responsible for many of the nation’s favourite news programmes, also provides a great apprenticeship programme that trains their apprentices in all formats. The apprenticeships they provide are for roles such as ‘Junior Journalist’ and ‘Junior Content Producer’ from a range of outlets such as Channel 4 News, ITV News and 5 News. These apprenticeships last between 12-18 months and provide a great experience for trainee journalists. If an applicant is successful, their qualification will be provided by either ‘PA Media Training’, ‘Big Creative Education’ or ‘Firebrand’.
Whilst working with a big company is always exciting, do not be afraid to go for smaller news outlets. Small teams can be very easy to work with and usually end with you getting a much more intimate and friendlier work environment. It’s always worth keeping an eye on the Gov.uk apprenticeships website for jobs specifically in your local area.
Payment wise, the minimum wage for apprenticeships is 9000 pounds a year however news outlets seem to be offering more than that for their specific apprenticeships. For example, the wage for BBC is £14,400 a year or £19,082 a year if you are living in London.
One thing you might find hard is applying for a degree apprenticeship. There are not many companies that offer journalism degree apprentices yet, but there are a few options out there. Most degrees and apprenticeships are accredited by the BJTC who decide what trainee journalists learn depending on what they are told by employers. The NCTJ, National Training Council for Journalists, tends to provide level 3 advanced apprenticeships, which is generally considered to be the equivalent to two A level passes.
It is also important to remember that apprenticeships can be done by people of any age, if you want to do an apprenticeship before or after completing a degree that is completely fine and it is a common practice. The only thing that would stop you from doing a journalism apprenticeship at any time is if you already have a Journalism degree.
That’s a wrap
As a journalist, you will need skills in writing and content creation. You will also need to be able to find a story every day and be able to create good quality content for the story in a quick amount of time. When you are looking for an apprenticeship you should think about what the employers are providing you when it comes to the types of journalism formats they teach you, the mentors you would have around you, the equipment you would receive to work with and whether or not a fast-paced, high-pressure environment is right for you.