Becoming a Sports Reporter: Salary Info & Job Description

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What are the pros and cons of a sports reporter career? Get real job descriptions, career prospects and salary info to see if becoming a sports reporter is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of Being a Sports Reporter

Sports reporters, also called sports journalists, usually work for television or radio stations, newspapers or online publication companies. Following is a list of more pros and cons that can help you determine whether becoming a sports reporter is right for you.

Pros of Being a Sports Reporter
Increase in prevalence of online news may improve job opportunities**
Opportunity to attend major games*
May anchor a sports segment or show*
May meet famous professional athletes*

Cons of Being a Sports Reporter
Job decline expected (-14% from 2012-2022 for all reporters and correspondents)**
Getting a job can be difficult without experience**
Job can be fast-paced and demanding**
Typically requires meeting tight deadlines**

Sources: *Multiple online job postings, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information and Job Description

As a sports reporter, you'll perform most of your work in the field. You may cover stories for a particular sport or a variety of sporting activities. You may also specialize in high school, collegiate or professional sports. Some of your job duties may involve traveling to sporting events to report play-by-play action from the sidelines, interviewing players and coaches, researching and writing stories for publication, shooting short videos and taking photographs. In some instances, you may also be required to produce and anchor sports news for on-air coverage.

Salary Info and Career Outlook

According to Payscale.com, the lowest-paid percentage of sports reporters earned a salary of about $24,000 and the highest-paid percentage earned about $70,000, as of September 2015. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the national employment level for reporters and correspondents in general was expected to decline at a rate of fourteen percent from 2012-2022. One of the primary reasons for this decline was a reduction in advertising revenue and the resulting need to downsize by employing fewer reporters.

What Are the Requirements?

According to the BLS and job postings, sports reporters typically need a baccalaureate degree to work in the field. Some of the most common majors for this profession include broadcasting, communication and journalism. In addition to a degree, employers usually expect you to have some hands-on experience. You may gain experience by volunteering at your college's radio or television station, participating in an internship or writing for your college newspaper. As a sports reporter, you may have to work long hours and pursue interviewees to cover stories, which requires having stamina and persistence. You must also have good communication and interpersonal skills to build relationships with a variety of people and conduct interviews.

Job Postings from Real Employers

Some job postings for sports reporters revealed that at least two years of experience is required (perhaps for entry-level positions). However, other postings showed that a minimum of five years of experience is required (most likely for positions that require more expertise). Overall, most employers are looking for candidates who have experience in writing news stories. Following is a list of summarized online job postings for sports reporters that can give you some insight into what real employers were looking for during November of 2012.

  • A newspaper publishing company in Virginia was looking for a reporter to cover sports for the National Football League (NFL). A candidate needed to have at least five years of experience with expertise in beat writing and a bachelor's degree in communications, journalism or another related major. Job duties include reporting on breaking news, writing news stories and meeting editing deadlines.
  • A television station in Oklahoma City sought a candidate for various duties including anchoring broadcasts, editing copy, shooting footage, reporting news and producing a sports show. This employer was looking for a candidate with a minimum of two years of experience.
  • A media company in New York City wanted to hire a sports reporter for general assignments. The reporter would provide back-up coverage during peak seasons, monitor interviews with professional athletes, cover breaking news and provide in-depth analysis. The employer requested at least 1-2 years of experience and verifiable skills in reporting and writing. Social media savvy was also important.
  • A major media and entertainment company in Washington, DC, sought a candidate with five years of television reporting experience, including three years covering sports. The candidate was required to have a 4-year degree in communications, journalism or another related field. Job responsibilities include researching, writing and producing content as well as covering sports on the air and in the field.

How to Stand Out in the Field

You can get an edge in the sports reporting job market by joining a professional organization, such as the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association (NSSA). As a member of the NSSA, you have the opportunity to be nominated by your peers as the state or national sportscaster and sportswriter of the year. Other membership benefits include access to online directories, forums and newsletters for the industry and the chance to attend the annual NSSA awards ceremony. With these benefits, you are able to network with other industry professionals and build business relationships that may help you advance your career.

You may also gain a competitive advantage by supplementing your degree with a graduate certificate. Programs you may consider include a graduate certificate in sport business or sports leadership. You could learn more about the role of sponsorship, sports finance and sports media.

Other Careers to Consider

Announcer

If you want a media personality career that involves presenting a variety of news and entertainment stories, then consider becoming an announcer. Typically, announcers work for radio and television studios as disc jockeys (DJs), public address system announcers and talk show hosts. However, some announcers have the title of emcee or party DJ at club events, parties and weddings.

According to the BLS, radio and television announcers earned a median wage of approximately $27,000, as of May 2011. During this time, public address system and other announcers earned a median salary of about $26,000. The BLS also noted that from 2010-2020, radio and television announcers were expected to have a seven percent growth in employment, while public address system and other announcers were projected to have a five percent job growth. Both these growth rates are less than average for all occupations during this period.

Camera Operator

If you prefer a broadcasting or entertainment career behind the scenes, consider becoming a camera operator. As a camera operator, you can work in the field with news reporters, in a television studio or on a movie set. Some of your duties may involve filming and editing scenes, collaborating with movie directors on production techniques, recording live events and videotaping television personalities from a fixed position. You typically need a baccalaureate degree to work as a camera operator. In most instances, you start as an assistant to a camera operator to gain experience.

In the decade of 2010-2020, the BLS reported that camera operators, including film and video editors, were expected to have only a two percent growth in employment. As of May 2011, camera operators earned a median salary of about $40,000, according to the BLS.

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Full Sail University

  • M.S. - New Media Journalism
  • Master of Fine Arts - Media Design
  • BS - Sportscasting (Campus)
  • BS - Media Communications (Campus)

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Johns Hopkins University

  • Master of Arts in Communication
  • Master of Arts in Science Writing

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Purdue University

  • Master of Science in Communication

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American University

  • Master of Arts in Strategic Communication
  • Master of Arts in Strategic Communication - Advocacy and Social Impact Concentration

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The Art Institutes

  • Professional Writing for Creative Arts (BFA)
  • Video Production (AS)
  • Video Skills (D)

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Penn Foster High School

  • Penn Foster High School with Early College Courses
  • HS Diploma

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Colorado State University Global

  • BS - Communication

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