Education and Training Requirements

High School

High school courses that will provide you with a firm foundation for a reporting career include English, journalism, history, social studies, communications, typing, and computer science. Speech courses will help you hone your interviewing skills, which are necessary for success as a reporter. In addition, it will be helpful to take college prep courses, such as foreign language, math, and science.

Postsecondary Training

You will need at least a bachelor's degree to become a reporter, and a graduate degree will give you a great advantage over those entering the field with lesser degrees. Many editors prefer applicants with degrees in journalism because their studies include liberal arts courses as well as professional training in journalism. Some editors consider it sufficient for a reporter to have a good general education from a liberal arts college. 

More than 1,500 institutions offer programs in journalism or communications, or related programs. Many colleges offer programs in journalism leading to a bachelor's degree. In these schools, a majority of a student's time is devoted to a liberal arts education and the rest to the professional study of journalism, with required courses such as introductory mass media, basic reporting and copyediting, history of journalism, and press law and ethics. Students are encouraged to select other journalism courses according to their specific interests.

Journalism courses and programs are also offered by many community and junior colleges. Graduates of these programs are prepared to go to work directly as general assignment reporters, but they may encounter difficulty when competing with graduates of four-year programs. Credit earned in community and junior colleges may be transferable to four-year programs in journalism at other colleges and universities. Journalism training may also be obtained in the armed forces. 

Some schools offer a master's or graduate degree in journalism. Graduate degrees may prepare students specifically for careers in news or as journalism teachers, researchers, and theorists, or for jobs in advertising or public relations.

A reporter's liberal arts training should include courses in English (with an emphasis on writing), sociology, political science, economics, history, psychology, business, speech, and computer science. Knowledge of foreign languages is also useful. To be a reporter in a specialized field, such as science or finance, requires concentrated course work in that area.

Other Education or Training

A variety of webinars, conference seminars, digital journalism training sessions, and other continuing education opportunities are offered by professional associations such as the ACES: The Society for Editing, News Leaders Association, MPA-The Association of Magazine Media, Online News Association, and the Society of Professional Journalists. Topics include writing, editing, interviewing, social media, and technology. Contact these organizations for more information. 

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

There are no certification or licensing requirements for reporters.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Any experience working or volunteering as a writer, reporter, or editor in print, online, and broadcast journalism will be useful for aspiring reporters.

To be a successful reporter, you must be dedicated to obtaining hard facts, finding reliable sources, and conducting effective interviews. You need to be detail oriented and should enjoy working under tight deadlines. Reporters must also be good communicators, who can relate facts in a clear, easy-to-follow style. You should enjoy interacting with people of various races, cultures, religions, economic levels, and social statuses.

In order to succeed as a reporter, it is crucial that you have good typing skills, since you will type your stories using word processing programs. Although not essential, knowledge of shorthand or speedwriting makes note taking easier, and familiarity with news photography is an asset. Proficiency in multimedia and strong computer skills and database knowledge are essential. Reporters should also be inquisitive, aggressive, and persistent.