Magazine journalists write news articles and features for publications ranging from 'glossy'
consumer magazines through to specialist trade journals.
As a magazine journalist, your work would vary depending on the type of magazine, but would
q attending meetings to plan the content of the magazine
q suggesting ideas for articles that will be of interest to the magazine's readers
q interviewing and researching to collect material for articles
q writing articles in the magazine's house style
q keeping up to date with developments and trends in the subject area of the magazine.
Many magazines have related websites, so you might also produce versions of your articles for the
You would usually have specialist knowledge in the subject area covered by your publication.
Types of magazine include:
q consumer magazines - aimed at the general public
q specialist consumer magazines - aimed at people with interests in a particular subject, such as
travel, arts and crafts or cars
q professional magazines - for those working in a particular career such as human resources, or
q business magazines and trade journals
q in-house company magazines.
As a freelance journalist, you could write for both magazines and newspapers.
There are no set qualifications for becoming a magazine journalist, although most people applying
for this role have a degree.
A common starting point is to work as an editorial assistant for a magazine publishing house. This
route allows you to develop your skills and make contacts in the industry, which is important as
many journalist vacancies are not advertised.
You could complete a journalism qualification or degree before looking for work. Although this is
not essential, it would give you the opportunity to learn about the magazine industry and to develop
the skills you will need as a journalist. Qualifications which are recognised by the industry are
q Periodicals Training Council, which is the training section of the Periodical Publishers Association
q National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ).
Visit the PPA and NCTJ websites for details.
The NCTJ also runs distance learning courses, including Writing for the Periodical Press, which
gives a basic understanding of the magazine industry.
Whether or not you have journalism qualifications, you will have to be proactive and persistent to
get started in magazine journalism. The key to getting into the industry is to gain practical
experience. You could contact magazines directly to see if they will consider you for unpaid work
Other ways to get experience and build up a file of examples of your published work include:
q contacting editors with ideas for articles relevant to their magazine
q writing reviews of films, plays or products
q volunteering to work on newsletters run by not-for-profit organisations.
Visit the PPA website for advice on finding work experience and applying for jobs.
Competition for jobs is strong, especially on the better-known magazines. It may be easier to get
started on a specialist, trade or business publication, especially if you have knowledge of the area
it covers. The more specialist the magazine, the more likely you are to need appropriate knowledge
You would need to be flexible about your working hours. Although the standard day is usually 9am
to 6pm, you may need to work longer, irregular hours to meet deadlines.
You may spend some of your time travelling to follow up stories. This could involve overnight stays
away from home and overseas travel, depending on the type of magazine.
Skills and Knowledge
q excellent writing skills
q listening and questioning skills
q an enquiring mind and a lively interest in people, places and events
q research skills
q an interest in the subject of the magazine
q self confidence and the ability to put people at ease
q the ability to absorb information quickly and write it up in a style which is interesting and easy to
q determination and persistence
q keyboard and IT skills.
Training and Development
As a new magazine journalist, you would develop your skills on the job. Big publishing houses
often have structured on-the-job training schemes, but this is less likely in smaller organisations.
The PPA and NCTJ run a variety of short courses which would help you to develop your skills and
As a member of the PPA, you can take the PPA Professional Certificate in Journalism, which you
can do as a new or recent recruit. The qualification covers both printed and online publications.
As journalists are increasingly expected to write for online as well as printed publications, you may
find it useful to do training in technical skills such as HTML, and web design packages such as
Dreamweaver. You can do short and part-time courses in these subjects through colleges and
private training providers.
Periodicals Publishers Association (PPA)
Tel: 020 7404 4166
Tel: 08080 300 900 (England and Northern Ireland)
Tel: 0808 100 8094 (Scotland)
Tel: 08000 121 815 (Wales)
21 Caledonian Road
National Union of Journalists (NUJ)
Broadcast Journalism Training Council
18 Miller's Close
Tel: 01778 440025 2
More than 9,000 magazines are published in the UK. As well as the well-known and 'glossy' titles
sold in all newsagents, these include magazines covering a very wide range of specialist subjects.
Other possible employers include business-to-business titles, in-house magazines for companies
such as retailing chains, and free magazines, such as those included in customer loyalty packages.
Large magazine publishing houses are mainly based in London and the south-east, but you could
find opportunities with specialist magazines all over the country.
You could also work freelance, writing features for a number of magazines. With experience you
may be able to progress to an editing position, or move into another area, such as newspaper
journalism, radio or TV.
You may find the following links useful for job vacancies and general reading (links open new
We do not accept responsibility for the content of external sites.
q Starting salaries can be between £18,000 and around £25,000 a year.
q With experience earnings can be up to £35,000 or more.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
Newspaper or Magazine Editor
Public Relations Officer
Radio Broadcast Assistant
Web Content Manager