There’s hope for graduates with journalism degrees

Today's guest post is by Greg Schmalz, president, Schmalz Communications.

Journalist-AThe school year is winding down and any day now, students will be graduating from college and ready to make their mark in the workplace.  Or will they?

According to the latest U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics published in March, the unemployment rate remains at a hefty 8.2 percent. 

On top of that, many are left with paying back hefty student loans. But there’s hope.  Hope, at least, for those journalism majors, according to a recent Georgetown University study.

The study reveals that recent graduates with an undergraduate degree in journalism have a 7.7 percent unemployment rate. The unemployment rate for experienced graduates is at 6 percent while people with graduate degrees in journalism have only a 3.8 percent unemployment rate.

Obviously, earnings are commensurate with experience.  But media earnings for recent grads are $32,000 annually, according to the study. Salary jumps to $58,000 for experienced college grads and increases to $66,000 for people with graduate degrees.

While the introduction of the Internet has had a dramatic effect on the print publishing industry, journalism is still very much needed from newspapers and magazines to web sites and broadcast.

Beyond the traditional journalism streams, recent graduates can benefit from both written and oral communications skills in the workplace whether it is business writing or presentations.

Plus, these communications skills are easily transferable to other industries such as public relations. In fact, this guest blogger began his professional career as a sportswriter as a freshman in high school.  My career path later transitioned to network radio and television, sales and now public relations.

As the Repman often writes in this space, good writing skills are important.  Good luck graduates in your job-hunting. And, remember to be resourceful. While there may be a dead end in your chosen field, use your skills and talent in another area.  You may be pleasantly surprised.

6 thoughts on “There’s hope for graduates with journalism degrees

  1. Greg, I completely hear you on the communications skills. It’s deplorable how many educated people don’t have basic communications and grammar skills (i.e. your vs you’re, too versus to…you get the point). That’s another blog post for another time, though. My point was that I secured many of those skills through my writing experiences, not through the degree. Journalism is a tough career. It’s not lucrative, it’s full of lay-offs and cost-cutting, and who knows what tomorrow will bring. I just think it makes more sense to have a degree that’s more practical if you find yourself wanting to make a change – which most journalists seem to do at some point.

  2. That’s just my point Steve. If there’s a “dead end” in journalism, those communications skills will aid in seeking employment elsewhere. How many former jorunalists do you have on staff or are aligned with? There is some value that they bring to the table, whether it’s editing, pitching media because of their insight how journalists work, what makes for a good story, etc.

  3. Interesting to know, Danielle. However, you must admit that the communications skills you learned in assisted in your career development path. I don’t have a college education, but began my professional career as a freshman in high school as a sportswriter and then had hands-on experience in radio working side-by-side of the industry’s top broadcasters. Later on, I mentored some interns and taught them the tools of the trade. But I firmly believe that communications skills are inherent to a successful career, regardless of the chosen path.

  4. I have to agree with you, Danielle. I, too, am a former journalism major. And, like you, I believe real world experience is far more impoortant than advanced degrees. I’m also surprised to see journalism majors doing so well in the job market when that entire industry has been in free fall for so long. Plus,I continue to see countless resumes from downsized journos cross my desk each week. Something doesn’t compute here.

  5. Good points, Greg, but I’ve never been a big believer in journalism degrees. As a former journalist turned corp comm exec, I’ve always placed more weight on practical experience versus degree. You certainly need a degree – and an advaced one doesn’t hurt – but the type of degree is incidental when it comes to making a career in journalism. Journalism has always been one of those careers where experience – internships, freelancing, etc – counts more than the degree. You need the clips to get the job – and you can do that with a degree in finance, engineering, art, journalism, etc. I was an economics major, but I lived at the college newspaper, had a number of internships and tons of clips, and that’s how I secured my first newspaper job post-college. But when the time came to switch careers, that econ degree came in very handy. I’m not sure I would have had the same ease in switching careers if I had had a degree in journalism. In the end, the practical journalism experience coupled with a more marketable and practical degree (at least in my opinion) gave me more flexibility in my overall communications career.