Careers Newsletter: April 2023

Careers Spotlight: Journalism

There’s no getting away from it, you’ll need qualifications to fulfil your ambition – it’s almost impossible to become a working journalist without them.

To become a journalist you’ll need to demonstrate enthusiasm for your chosen career by getting some work experience in your chosen field even before you apply for a job, or a place at university or college.

Journalism has become a mainly graduate profession and a large number of practising journalists hold postgraduate qualifications. However, there is still a strong option of direct entry after A’levels for apprenticeship schemes, career change training through NCTJ (National Council for the Training of Journalists) courses, and on the job training in local newspapers.

Journalism is undergoing an acceleration of change with a rapid decline in newspaper reading circulation, newspaper title closures, the growth of online only journalism platforms, and a morphing between traditional broadcasting and newspaper print journalism into a multimedia industry.

An ideal pathway would be to start with local journalism in newspapers, online or radio and then progress to regional papers, online platforms or broadcasting and then onto national publisher/broadcasters.  In that way you should be able to fully understand how important it is to build a relationship of trust with your audience and the community your journalism serves. But there are many other ways to become qualified and enter the industry. News agencies are often excellent starting places for journalists wishing to specialise in what is known as ‘hard news.’

Newspaper Journalism

Pay is pretty low on most local papers, but some still offer training while you’re on the job with NCTJ (National Council for the Training of Journalists) qualification courses and examination. The NCTJ is the UK’s biggest and longest established accreditation body for professional journalism. The Chartered Institute of Journalists was an important supporter at its inception.

Certificate in Foundation Journalism

The NCTJ Certificate in Foundation Journalism provides an introduction to journalism. It may be used as a stepping stone for candidates wanting to go on to a career in journalism or by those wishing to improve their journalistic skills for a specific purpose.

Junior journalist apprenticeship

The level 3 junior journalist apprenticeship is a training scheme which provides a direct route into the industry. Apprentice junior journalists gain skills and experience working in a news environment as well as off-the-job training at college to work towards gaining the NCTJ Diploma in Journalism qualification.

Diploma in Journalism

The NCTJ Diploma in Journalism equips trainee journalists with the knowledge and skills for professional entry level journalism. This qualification encompasses the skills required of journalists working across all media sectors.

National Qualification in Journalism

The National Qualification in Journalism (NQJ) is the industry’s professional qualification that trainee journalists with at least 18 months employment can take to achieve senior status as a journalist. Employers who support the programme register trainees with the NCTJ and an online logbook is completed providing evidence of training and experience before taking the exams.

As the industry has become more graduate orientated, the NCTJ, like the PPA, mainly accredits university centres and programmes being offered at undergraduate and postgraduate level.  But it still also accredits a thriving sector of courses provided in colleges such as Darlington, North West Regional, Fife, Highbury, City of Liverpool, Sheffield, and Harlow, and non-university journalism training providers such as News Associates, The Press Association, and Brighton Journalist Works.

Magazine Journalism

There are many different types of magazines and while there is sure to be one that is exactly right for you they will all usually expect you to have a degree and some formal training before you apply for a job.

The magazine industry body is the PPA (Professional Publishers’ Association) that accredits university programmes and courses at undergraduate and postgraduate level.  These should give you the basic skills you’ll need: Media law, PA (national government), news and feature writing, subbing, design and layout (a working knowledge of publishing software like In-Design) and shorthand to 80 wpm – the latter isn’t an essential for magazine employment but it’s invaluable for interviews – you’ll never regret learning it. Most courses include mandatory work placements and portfolios.

The PPA accredits courses and programmes every two years and keeps an updated list online.

The NCTJ also accredits courses and training schemes in magazine journalism.

A degree in a specific subject (like one of the sciences) will always give you a useful specialism that you can exploit by working for a magazine about that subject (New Scientist for instance).

Consumer magazines; both general interest (Company) and specialist (Crafty Carper), are the ones everyone wants to work on so they are always oversubscribed and could have up to a six-month waiting list for work placements. To improve your chances, show you understand and love the publication and have an in-depth knowledge of its readership when applying and be persistent.

Customer magazines; (like M & S Magazine) are an ever-growing sector of the publishing industry. They pay better but you’ll be working for two masters, in this example, the editor who works for the publishing company and the client who represents Marks & Spencer.

B2B (Business to Business) magazines; or ‘trade’ magazines as they used to be called (i.e. The Grocer) don’t have the cachet of the glossies but pay best and usually have good training schemes for employees and excellent career progression. They are well worth considering, especially for a first job.

There are of course also journalism degrees but no qualification is a guarantee of a job at the end of the course. Those posts advertised in The Guardian’s media jobs section have hundreds of applicants and are often filled before publication. The very best way of securing employment is through work experience that gives you the opportunity to show what you can do and become indispensable. You may have to take several unpaid work placements before securing that all-important first step on the employment ladder. Once you’ve done that, switching between magazines becomes much easier.

Online Journalism

Most magazines and newspapers have their own websites, some only exist in cyberspace. Online journalism broadly requires the same qualifications as described above, you’ll need a firm grasp of current affairs and a real talent in the news writing department because reports and features that are going to be read on screen need to be short, pithy and to the point.

Broadcast Journalism

Developments in radio and TV have brought many more opportunities for journalists in recent years. Among those at the top of the tree are the reporters following world events on a satellite link, interviewing politicians and celebrities, or presenting the news in a studio. But to reach this pinnacle they have invariably had years – sometimes decades – of hard training and experience.

The Broadcast Journalism Training Council, known as the BJTC, is the main accrediting body for undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in broadcast and multimedia journalism.

You can find out the nearest BJTC approved programme near you by visiting its regularly updated online page of accredited courses. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the largest single training organisation for broadcast journalism is the BBC itself. Its training is much sought-after, very thorough, and above all highly competitive.

The Corporation is always keen to attract new recruits. As the BBC’s website says: “It’s our goal to become the most creative organisation in the world. But in order to make it a reality, we need to keep on attracting the brightest, most creative and talented people. People just like you.”

The BBC recruits some of its journalists directly from other sectors of the media, especially when it needs to find reporters with a particular specialisation – so there is always the possibility for an experienced journalist to make the move from the printed media to broadcasting, especially as the Corporation has such a plethora of local, regional, national and even international TV and radio stations. The BBC has various Direct Entry training schemes, with fierce competition for places.

Would-be entrants to broadcasting should not, however, fix their sights solely on the BBC. Commercial radio and TV stations should also be approached for vacancies in their newsrooms. The biggest radio group in the UK is Global which actually sponsors a state school called the Global Academy in Hayes specialising in broadcasting and digital media.

Most post-graduate programmes in broadcast journalism cover television, radio and multimedia. Some universities still maintain specialist MA programmes in specific media such as Goldsmiths, University of London that runs a separate MA in Radio and MA in Television Journalism. Both are separately accredited by the BJTC and specialise in radio and television respectively

If you would like to find out more about being a journalist click on the links below:

Boosting your CV

In this section we have looked at how boost your CV.  A good CV will get you noticed and invited for an interview, but no further.  The key to a successful interview lies in soft skills.

What are soft skills?

Soft skills relate to how you work. Soft skills include interpersonal (people) skills, communication skills, listening skills, time management, and empathy, among others. They are among the top skills employers seek in the candidates they hire, because soft skills are important for just about every job.

Over the next few editions of the careers newsletter we will look at different soft skills and how you can improve them

Time management

Time management skills are a broad set of skills that help you manage the time you spend during the workday and ensure that it’s being spent as effectively as possible. A few essential time management skills include:

Prioritisation - This is the act of assigning a level of importance to different tasks and ensuring that tasks of higher importance are accomplished before tasks of lower importance. 

Planning - Being able to analyse a task or a set of tasks and develop a schedule for their completion is essential. 

Goal-setting - Setting defined goals for yourself throughout your work, such as accomplishing a specific task or a segment of a job, is an essential part of time management. Setting a series of realistic goals and a series of optimal goals allows you to feel each accomplishment throughout your day as a source of motivation and encouragement. 

Communication - This skill represents your ability to express your goals, plans and needs in verbal and written forms. Well-developed communication skills allow you to develop efficient schedules and plans. It also helps you in accomplishing your tasks more effectively through delegation and teamwork.

Collaboration Skills

Collaboration is a working practice whereby individuals work together for a common purpose to achieve business benefit. Collaboration enables individuals to work together to achieve a defined and common business purpose. As the saying goes "there is no i in team".

Some simple ways to improve your collaboration skills are

Careers in Hertfordshire: Early Years


A career in early education and childcare will enable you to support young children as they learn and develop, helping them to become confident, capable learners building skills and knowledge for lifelong success. It is rewarding, full of variety and offers progression and different career paths as you grow in experience and confidence.


We support children and families to have the best start in life, develop well and thrive. As part of the Hertfordshire Family Centre Service, we work jointly with health visitors and school nurses.


Health visitors specialise in working with families with a child aged 0-5 to identify health needs.

Midwives provide care to women and their families through pregnancy, labour and during the period after a baby’s birth.

School nurses work with children and families to improve health and wellbeing outcomes.


We asked staff working with children aged 0-5 in Hertfordshire what was the most rewarding thing about their jobs - here's what they had to say:


Working with children and young people is an increasingly popular area for apprentices.

Apprenticeships can also involve particular specialisms in areas like music or working with pupils with special educational needs or challenging behaviour, helping them to overcome barriers to learning and fulfil their potential.

For more information please go to 

Current Opportunities

This month we have an opportunities to learn about careers in logistics and careers in law.