Reporters work primarily for newspapers, magazines and television stations. They typically receive assignments from editors, gather information on the assignment through research and interviews with sources, and then present it to viewers or readers. Reporters usually have a bachelor's degree in journalism, communications and broadcasting before finding employment. In some cases, reporters who work for a specialized magazine, newspaper or television channel might have a degree in a relevant content area. For example, a reporter of business news might have a degree in finance or economics.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, reporters earned an average annual salary of $45,120 as of May 2012. The lowest-paid 10 percent of reporters made $20,770 or less per year, while the highest-paid 10 percent made $78,530 or more. Half of all reporters reported annual earnings ranging from $26,500 to $53,260 per year.
Depending on the industry they work for, pay for reporters can vary significantly. While newspapers and magazines were the single largest employers of reporters as of 2012, they also offered a relatively low rate of pay, at an average of $40,590 per year. Radio and television reporters fared better, earning an average of $50,640 per year. Reporters employed in cable television averaged $57,050 per year, while those employed by other information services such as websites and newswires earned an average of $58,280 per year.
Considering that they headquarter much of the nation's television industry as well as several high-circulation magazines and newspapers, it is perhaps unsurprising that Washington, D.C. and New York reported the highest average salaries for reporters in 2012. Those employed in D.C. averaged $74,150 per year, according to the BLS. Reporters employed in New York averaged $62,140 per year. Other high-paying states for this occupation included Massachusetts at $61,420 and Rhode Island at $59,060. At the very opposite end of the pay scale was Nebraska, where reporters averaged only $25,420 per year.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the outlook for aspiring reporters is bleak. Due to declining circulation in newspapers and magazines and consolidation of television news agencies, the number of jobs for reporters is expected to decline by 8 percent from 2010 to 2020, leading to a loss of about 3,900 jobs. That compares to a 14 percent projected growth rate for all occupations. While the number of reporter jobs is decreasing, many people still express interest in entering the field, which means that those who aspire to become reporters should expect strong competition for available job openings, especially in large cities. Candidates who had formal internships or worked on school papers should have the best chances for employment.
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