Plenty of us have that friend. You know, the one who can’t stop talking about sports and always has a strong opinion on the latest sports controversy or news. The one who seems to both love and understand the sports industry far greater than the average fan.
Are you that friend? Do you also have a love of writing and storytelling? If so, a career in sports journalism could be in your future. Think about it. Creating more than just a tweet to talk about sports – and sharing that with millions of readers and viewers across the globe. It’s an exciting and highly sought-after job in sports.
If you’re interested in a career in sports journalism, you likely have questions.
How do you become a sports journalist?
How much does a sports journalist make in a year?
What should I study to become a sports journalist?
We’re here to give you the answers and the help you need to land your next sports journalism job.
Becoming a Sports Journalist: Key Questions Answered
What colleges have sports journalism programs?
If you want to become a sports writer and journalist, studying journalism will make finding a job much easier for you. If you’re fortunate enough to graduate from a sports journalism program, your chances of a successful and lucrative career increase dramatically.
According to Study.com, there are numerous colleges, and universities offer sports journalism programs, such as:
- The University of Texas at Austin
- Pennsylvania State University – Main Campus
- Indiana University – Bloomington
- University of Maryland – College Park
- University of North Texas
- Indiana University – Purdue University
- Webster University
- Marshall University
If you’re serious about pursuing a career as a sports writer, you should research which schools best meet your requirements and criteria based on your budget and goals. You’ll also want to consider location and academic criteria for being accepted into their program.
Be sure to create a list of your options from highest to lowest and apply to as many as possible within the proper enrollment times. You don’t want to hang all of your hopes on your first option. Also, submitting too late could cost you time.
How can I become a sports writer if I didn’t study sports journalism in college?
Don’t worry if you’ve already earned an unrelated college degree and don’t have plans to enroll in another four-year program. Although it does help if you studied journalism, English, or another topic that demonstrates to potential employers that you have strong writing skills, you can supplement your existing degree with a certificate in sports management. There are programs offering certification which doesn’t require you to invest as much time and money as traditional university degree programs.
For example, through the University of California Irvine’s Division of Continuing Education, you can earn a certificate in sports management in as little as six months. The average cost of the program is $2,380, much less than you would spend on a college education. All courses are taught online, so you can participate regardless of where you live.
Getting a sports management degree or certificate is a smart way to boost your odds of landing a sports job. After all, many people are attracted to sports careers. You’ll make yourself a more valuable candidate if you can demonstrate you’ve taken steps to further your understanding of the industry.
How much does a sports journalist make a year?
The amount of money you can make as a sports journalist varies depending on several important factors. Currently, the average salary for a sports writer in the United States is approximately $35,000. However, salaries can reach closer to $90,000 on the high end. There are even some sports journalists who are almost minor celebrities in the industry, pulling in even more money.
Salaries for sports journalists can vary greatly due to where you work and your responsibilities. If you’re a sports writer for a small local publication, you may be primarily covering local leagues and high school teams, with perhaps some coverage of college and professional teams. You’ll also be working for a publication that likely has a relatively low budget. On the other hand, if you’re actively covering the major leagues for a well-known publication such as The New York Times, you’ll earn more.
This once again highlights the importance of education when applying for jobs in sports. In general, most sports jobs pay more when you’re a genuine expert with relevant experience.
How can I start my career as a sports writer?
There isn’t one set way to break into sports journalism. You don’t necessarily have to follow a traditional path to become a sports writer.
If you have a relevant degree and experience, you may be able to directly apply to become a sports writer at a print or digital publication immediately after completing your studies. That said, if you are struggling to walk straight into your dream job due to lack of experience or related factors, you can look into sports internship programs at publications with major sports departments. An internship allows you to meet people who can help you further your career.
It’s also worth noting that many publications (particularly web-based ones) accept freelance submissions from sports writers. If this interests you, start off by making a list of your favorite blogs, sites, magazines, and newspapers that cover sports. Check their websites to see if they have any information about contributing as a freelancer. If you can’t easily find this information on the site, Google the name of a publication with the words “sports editor” and similar phrases. You may find the contact information of the editor who can let you know whether the publication accepts freelance submissions. Contributing as a freelancer will help you build your portfolio, boosting your odds of eventually becoming a full-time sports writer.
Just make sure you submit quality content. Potential employers will likely Google you when you apply for full-time positions. It’s vital that any content of yours they find online be strong and impressive, demonstrating your thorough understanding of the industry (as well as the basics of English writing).
Start Creating Your Sports Story
If you’re serious about sports journalism and want to be a famous writer, there’s no time like the present. Make sure you have the right education and experience for the job you want. If you’re not quite there, start with some sports internships or entry-level positions to get your hands dirty. There’s no easier way to gain experience than getting in there and doing the work – and moving up the ladder. And if you want to start contributing to your future as the World’s Best Sports Writer, start sending in your stories to your favorite publications. A quick and simple way to get your name out there and start paving the way to a lucrative career in sports journalism.