Working in broadcasting and journalism with A levels (or similar)

It can be hard to break into broadcasting and journalism. People applying for jobs like the ones below may have a degree.

First jobs are often low paid and there is a lot of competition. People usually volunteer to gain experience. If you are hoping to get into the industry with just A levels or similar, look for trainee schemes and apprenticeships. Moving up in these industries is often based on practical experience, contacts and the right personal qualities.

Example jobs

People with degrees may also apply for these roles.

Editorial assistant
Supports the publication of newspapers, magazines or websites. You'll need great English and the ability to spot errors.

Trainee journalist
Assists in investigating and producing news stories for newspapers, magazines, TV, radio or the internet.

Broadcast engineer
Maintains the quality of broadcasts and makes sure that programmes go out on time. You would use and maintain specialist equipment.

Runner
Acts as a general assistant in TV or film. You’ll need a great attitude and lots of enthusiasm.

Lighting technician
Works on the lighting for TV and film. You would normally need to be a fully qualified electrician.

Case study

As a freelancer, you’re always working with new companies and with new people. I’ve worked with some great contributors. I get to travel and I’ve seen parts of the UK I would never have visited otherwise...

Hana Odell, location director at a production company

Approximate pay levels

Figures supplied as a guide only

Many jobs in the industry are paid at a day rate, or just for the length of a contract. You would only earn money for the days you work and there may be gaps between jobs.

Pay level graph

Typical working conditions

  • Hours are often long and unpredictable.
  • The work will be fast-paced, especially when deadlines are looming.
  • In TV and radio, you might be out on location or in the studio.
  • In journalism, you could be out following a lead or sat in front of a computer.
  • Most opportunities can be found in London, although there are many employers across the rest of the UK.
  • You’ll find clusters of TV and radio employers in Bristol, Manchester, Cardiff and Glasgow.
  • There are many local and regional newspapers.

Qualifications needed

  • You need to consider that you will be competing against people with degrees, even for trainee positions and entry-level jobs.
  • Good GCSE and A level grades in a number of subjects will help.
  • The Press Association, BBC, ITV and Sky offer their own training schemes or apprenticeships. Local and regional newspapers may also offer trainee schemes.
  • Once you’re working, technical jobs often require specific training. Creative Skillset and the National Union of Journalists will have more information.
  • Don’t forget to build up a great portfolio of your experience to show employers.

Career path

  • Practical experience and on-the-job training are the ways to move up the career ladder.
  • Newspaper journalists might move on to roles where they are editing other people’s work.
  • Production assistants may eventually end up being producers.
  • You can also move into other areas of the industry.

Useful links

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Creative Skillset careers

Information about creative careers from the sector skills council

NUJ careers

Information about careers in journalism from the National Union of Journalists

Radio Academy

Find out about working in radio