How to Become a Financial Journalist



Although there is no one set path for becoming a financial journalist, a very effective route for entering this profession is to follow these general steps:


1. Determine if this profession is suited to your personality and professional interests

2. Pursue an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in business or journalism

3. Get work experience in business or journalism as a student, and after you graduate

4. Familiarize yourself with financial reporting documents, such as income statements

5. Work on your writing skills, and keep abreast of developments in the financial world

6. Submit freelance financial articles to publications, and apply for staff jobs with strong writing samples

7. Improve your craft as you gain experience


Below, we've covered these steps in greater detail, as well as provided some information on what financial journalists actually do, what their average salary level is, and what you can do to break into this field.





What Formal Education and Experience Will I Need?

Employers typically look to hire candidates that can generate interesting ideas and topics for articles, and back them up with skills in journalism and an understanding of economics and business. Often, this takes a combination of formal education and industry experience in business and/or journalism.


For example, many employers will require that you meet the minimum requirements set out below (the criteria below was very similar to what we saw in several actual "financial journalist" job postings):


• Bachelor’s degree

• 1 year industry experience in journalism/writing

• Must be able to generate interesting ideas and topics

• Must have an interest in business or finance

• Must provide writing sample





What is a Financial Journalist?

Financial journalists are responsible for collecting and analyzing information concerning newsworthy events within the world of finance and commerce. This typically involves digging up and deciphering key documents and data, and relying on sources. Their ultimate responsibility is to provide accurate, actionable advice for readers, whom are primarily investors.



What Does a Financial Journalist Do?

Although their specific responsibilities can vary, financial journalists are generally responsible for performing the following duties:


• Discussing article issues with editors

• Digging up and deciphering key documents and data

• Composing articles regarding a specific event or development in the financial industry

• Revising work to meet editorial approval or to fit time or space requirements

• Reviewing and evaluating notes regarding a story in order to isolate pertinent facts and details

• Determining the emphasis and length of a story

• Arranging and conducting interviews with relevant parties

• Developing and maintaining financial industry contacts

• Keeping up with developments in the financial world



Skills You’ll Need to Become a Financial Journalist

It takes a certain skill set to be an effective financial journalist; skills that can be developed in journalism and/or business school, while gaining work experience, or through independent learning. These skills include:


Making numbers your friend: It’s important to get a good sense of the scale of numbers, and not mistake millions for billions for trillions. 


Understanding relationships between numbers: It’s vital for financial journalists to understand what growth rates are, what inflation rates are, and how financial data is measured is general.


Spotting trends versus random fluctuations: Good financial journalists can tell the difference between a legitimate pattern, and random fluctuations in financial data.


Paying attention to details: When looking at the reports of big, complex companies, the ability to read the accounts in more detail to find out what's really going on is crucial. 


Usage of proper terminology: Financial journalists shouldn't be inaccurate, but they should be aware of what emotion could be attached to a particular word.





Is This a Good Career Choice for Me?

It’s not always about if you can; whether or not you should is of equal, if not greater importance. If the following traits, interests and attributes describe you, then you might be very well-suited for a career as a financial journalist:


• You have a keen interest in keeping up with current events in the financial world

• You’re comfortable, composed and calm around people, microphones and cameras

• You have initiative, curiosity, persistence, resourcefulness, objectivity, integrity, creativity and an accurate memory

• You’re not opposed to learning the basics of accounting and investing

• You’re interested in digging up and deciphering key documents and data

• You have an interest in learning how to read financial reports, such as income statements, balance sheets, and and cash flow statements 

• You’re willing to be accountable to provide accurate, actionable advice to readers, who are primarily investors

• You have the ability to present facts and opinions clearly, concisely, logically and coherently



What is the Salary Level of Financial Journalists?

The amount financial journalists can earn varies based on factors such as:


• Their level of education and experience 

• Their reputation

• The size and type of their employer

• The medium in which they primarily work (such as television, radio, online, etc.)

• The region in which they work


Salary - Canada: According to the 2018 Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Journalists occupational group earn an average salary of $72,527 per year. Unfortunately, no similar statistics were available from reliable sources for other Canadian provinces or territories at the time of writing (July 17, 2019).


Salary - United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for Reporters, Correspondents, and Broadcast News Analysts is $56,680, with the lowest 10 percent earning less than $25,690, and the highest 10 percent earning more than $163,490.



Who Hires Financial Journalists?

As staff members or on a freelance basis, financial journalists may broadcast stories or publish them for newspapers, magazines, websites and other forms of media. 



Tips for Getting Hired as a Financial Journalists

If you want to get a journalism job with a specific organization, make sure you familiarize yourself with their website, their social media presence as well as their area of overall coverage. Look for gaps in their coverage, and if you see an opportunity to fill a gap, make note of it and mention it during your interview, in addition to making note of what the organization does well at, of course.


You should also take the time to read up on the organization as much as possible; your level of interest will communicate loyalty and initiative. In addition to appearing more knowledgeable about the organization, you will also learn whether or not it’s actually a place you want to work.



Financial Journalist Jobs

Our job board below has a listing of "Financial Journalist" postings in your area of Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom or Australia.



What Career Advancement Opportunities Are There?

Financial journalists that display initiative and skill typically have multiple career advancement opportunities presented to them, which can include:


• Becoming a freelancer after being a full-time staff member, or vice-versa

• Getting increases in pay and responsibility

• Moving from organizations in small cities or towns to organizations in large cities

• Becoming editors or news directors



What are Careers Similar to This One?

Listed below are careers that may be in the same field, or they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and/or responsibilities as “financial journalist”:


• Broadcast Journalist

• Columnist

• Finance Manager

• Financial Analyst

• Journalist

• Political Reporter



What Scholarships Are There for Aspiring Financial Journalists? 

The “Majors in Our Database Relevant for this Career” section below lists fields of study that are relevant to this profession. You can search for relevant scholarships by finding those majors on our "Finance Scholarships” and "Journalism Scholarships" pages.


Success Tip: Apply for any and all scholarships that you even barely qualify for; there are MILLIONS of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Sources for This Career Guide

The following resources were used to gather information for this career path guide:


• Wages & Salaries in Alberta: “Journalists.” (n.d.). Government of Alberta Learning Information Service . Retrieved November 21, 2019.

• Occupational Outlook Handbook: “Reporters, Correspondents, and Broadcast News Analysts.” (May, 2016). United States Government Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved June 8, 2017.

• Stories: “How I Broke Into Financial Journalism and What It Took to Stick Around.” Tim Beyers (February 12, 2015). Retrieved June 8, 2017.

• Skills: “How to: start out in financial journalism.” Sarah Marshall (February 10, 2012). Retrieved June 8, 2017.



Majors in Our Database Relevant for this Career

We have career guides for over 60 university majors in our database. Below we've outlined those that are most relevant to becoming a financial journalist. Click on the links to see what else you can do with these majors!


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