Employment Prospects


Newspapers of all kinds run columns, as do certain magazines and even public radio stations, where a recording is played over the airways of the author reading the column. Many columnists have their own Web sites or work for newspapers, magazines, and other employers that have an online presence. Some columnists are self-employed, preferring to market their work to syndicates instead of working for a single newspaper or magazine.

Starting Out

Most columnists start out as reporters. Experienced reporters are the ones most likely to become columnists. Occasionally, however, a relatively new reporter may suggest a weekly column if the beat being covered warrants it, for example, politics.

Another route is to start out by freelancing, or sending columns out to a multitude of newspapers and magazines in the hopes that someone will pick them up. Also, columns can be marketed to syndicates. Large syndicates include Creators Syndicate, King Features Syndicate, Tribune Media Services, Andrews McMeel Syndication, and Washington Post News Service & Syndicate. You can learn more about syndicates by visiting these companies' Web sites and that of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, 

A third possibility, one opened up by the Internet, is simply beginning your own site or blog and using it to attract attention and thus jumpstart your career. 

Advancement Prospects

Newspaper columnists can advance in national exposure by having their work syndicated. They also may try to get a collection of their columns published in book form. Moving from a small newspaper or magazine to a large national publication is another way to advance.

Columnists also may choose to work in other editorial positions, such as editor, editorial writer or page editor, or foreign correspondent. Many also expand their reach by writing books and lecturing. Some become college writing professors. 

Tips for Entry

Write as often as you can and create a portfolio of your work to show potential employers.

Join the National Society of Newspaper Columnists and other organizations to access training and networking resources, industry publications, and member-only job listings.

Talk to columnists about their careers. Ask them for advice on entering the field. 

The American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) offers a mentoring program for freelance writers. Visit for more information. The ASJA also offers The ASJA Guide to Freelance Writing for a small fee.