Years ago companies wanted journalists to have reporting experience and at least an associate’s level college journalism degree. The advent of the Internet has made it increasingly important to gain additional skills, like search engine optimization, social media marketing and web content creation skills. In addition to having experience working with these and other communication tools, employers want you to have college degrees in communication programs that have a digital writing focus.
By enrolling in college while you’re still in the military, you can keep from having to pay tuition using your own hard earned money. You can also start matching your military jobs with college training to gain a balance of education and hands-on reporting and writing experience. Furthermore, because you’re in the military, you can gain access to colleagues and supervisors, asking them questions about new regulations and procedures, easier than you may have been able to if you were you a civilian.
You can either apply for journalist jobs as soon as you join the military or you can work a year or longer in the military and use military tuition assistance programs like the Post 9/11 GI Bill to pay for journalism and communication courses. Both traditional colleges and universities and military schools offer communications courses. Should you major in journalism and communications, expect to take courses like Introduction to Journalism, Applied Fact Finding, Photographic Journalism, Investigative Reporting, Magazine and Feature Writing, Public
Before you sign up for journalism and communications certificate, diploma or degree programs make sure that the programs offer online writing courses as online or digital writing is growing in popularity. You can use money you earn from online journalism jobs to build your personal savings during and after your military career days. Because the styles of writing for print and digital publications are different, it’s important that you learn how to write for both media formats.
After you start working as a military journalist, you may start out in a comfortable office, scheduling interviews with military professionals who have made achievements in the arts, sports, on the battle field or in the community. Types of stories you can cover include on-the-ground combat missions, military training programs, lifestyles of military personnel at official military installations, charity events as well as events hosted by social organizations. You might start out working standard nine-to-five hours, but should expect to work longer hours after you gain more experience. Additionally, you might not be assigned to cover stories in the field until after you have worked as a journalist, covering lighter stories, for a year or more.
The military has communications departments, consisting of hundreds of writers, editors, journalists, reporters and photographers. After you earn journalism and communications degrees from accredited colleges and universities you can start working for military television stations. You can also get hired to work for military magazines and newspapers like Military History, Military Living, the Navy Times or the Army Times. Build a solid portfolio of newspaper and magazine clippings, and you can either moonlight for civilian periodicals as a journalist or wait until you retire from the military to start working full-time for a host of civilian online and print publications.