Media Industry Jobs You Can Get without a Degree

A picture of media job candidates in line
You can break into the media industry without a college degree. You simply need to know where to look to find the right media job. Photo © Tom Merton / Getty Images

Many jobs in the media industry require a bachelor's degree at minimum. But there are ways to get your foot in the door without a degree and work your way into your dream position. Knowing where to look for media jobs is just as important as applying for the positions that will launch your media career:

Social Media Manager

More media companies are opening up entire departments to focus solely on social media.

Many social media managers on the job today either have a degree that's not necessarily in any field related to communications, such as Art History, but you'll also find social media directors who don't have a degree at all.

As with just about any job in the media industry, you have to be able to clearly communicate with others as a main requirement. Demonstrating your ability to manage social media can be as simple as starting your own social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ and running your own social media campaign. Once you've established yourself as a social media expert, you're ready to seek social media positions as a freelancer or in-house full-time.

Writer

The Internet has opened new career paths for people who want to work in media but don't have a college degree. Beginning your career as a writer has never been easier.

Set goals for your writing career. Do you want to freelance or do you prefer a full-time position with benefits?

That's your first step in picking the right writing jobs that will give you the experience you need to command a hefty rate as a freelancer or a competitive salary as a news writer at a TV station. Build your portfolio with appropriate writing samples tailored for the job you're seeking. All of your articles on planting vegetables and flowers, even those you published for your blog, are appropriate for a gardening magazine.

Your articles on the best bars in Seattle aren't.

Reporter

Walking into an on-air role as a reporter is not as easy as sending in your media resume. Neither is getting a reporting job at a newspaper or magazine. Most media companies do want you to at least have a bachelor's degree to even be considered. Persistence will pay off, especially if you are willing to start at the low end of the totem pole and climb your way to the top.

For an on-air reporting position, it's imperative you put together solid stories that demonstrate your ability to tell the story through pictures and video. For print media, assemble the very best writing samples you can create and include a mix of coverage such as a fatal house fire, community event, local government controversy and weather emergency.

Radio Announcer

Radio is an excellent starting point for people who want to work in the media without a degree. Become a morning show host or DJ, despite not having a college degree.

Radio not only requires a commanding voice, you have to also adapt your tone to your audience to become a radio personality who rules the airwaves. A news announcer will not come across on the air as a boisterous jokester. A morning show co-host won't use a serious tone to introduce the next block of classic hits.

One way to get some experience as an announcer on your resume is to start your own podcast. Your potential boss can hear your voice, get a feel for your personality and place you in a position that best matches the media company's station formats.

Camera Operator

Can you spot a good shot when you're holding a camera in your hand? If you can tell a story through your pictures or video, you may ready for a media job behind the lens.

Create samples of your work. Shoot compelling video that tells a story. Snap pictures that look like they came out of a magazine. You can use your creative skills to not only get you a job in the media industry but to climb the ladder to management positions in the creative and production departments.

Digital Content Specialist

If you're a detail-oriented person who loves writing, timely news stories that continually evolve throughout the day, look into a career as a digital content specialist.

This position is fairly new to the media industry but more companies have realized how important it is to dedicate a team of writers to managing the station's online news.

Exceptional writing skills are required for this media job. It also helps to understand web analytics, viral content, SEO, SEM, and social media platforms. To break into the field, begin writing news content and articles for other web sites to get experience on your resume. Be prepared for a writing test when you're called for an interview and don't show up without a portfolio, even if your portfolio is filled with on-spec news articles.

Promotions

Do you have a knack for getting people excited about a product or service? Working in promotions requires creativity that can’t always be taught in a college classroom. Knowing how to build a media brand is a valuable skill that most media companies need.

If you know how to generate publicity, you can work in a media company’s promotion department. Creating a media contest that generates buzz doesn’t require a degree. However, you need to have the know-how to avoid publicity stunt dangers that can attract attention for all of the wrong reasons.

Engineer

Not all engineers have degrees. Broadcast engineers cover several key positions in media and all have positions you can land without holding a college degree.

Broadcast engineers at some radio and TV stations also cover IT departments. You maybe repairing the station's transmitter in the morning and installing new firewalls on computers in the afternoon. Requirements for the job usually include knowledge of both old and new technology. You have to easily switch gears if there's an emergency in the studio or in the field. These engineers can save the broadcast when technical issues arise so being able to solve problems quickly is crucial.

Graphic Artist

If the words vector, kerning and negative space are a part of your daily vocabulary, you can work your way into a fulfilling media career as a graphic artist. Virtually all media outlets still have a need for a graphic artist. Magazines and newspapers have a heavy focus on visuals for layouts and ads.

To get a job as a graphic artist, a good eye for the creative is a must. You'll also need to create a portfolio of your work. Even SPEC ADS can be used to show your talent. As you're waiting for the perfect opportunity, work on becoming a master of Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign.

Sales Associate

Sales associates are in high demand, especially in the media industry. Media outlets rely on ad revenue to stay on budget and keep operations running at full capacity. Without a fully-staffed sales force, stations, magazines, newspapers and online media companies lose opportunities to gain new clients and risk losing current clients.

Whether you're selling television adsradio ads, newspaper ads, magazine ads or online ads, you'll need to get out from behind the desk and be proactive to have a successful career as a sales associate. This isn't a desk job that will keep you isolated from others. It also takes a combination of charm, charisma and skill to become a successful sales associate. Because of the continual need for sales associates, this can be a relatively easy field to get into without a degree. Once you work your way up in the sales department, you will earn increased commissions, bonuses, salaries and other perks while working your way into the role of sales manager some day.

Traffic Coordinator

Multitaskers who are great at planning, troubleshooting and managing schedules are prime candidates for a media job as a traffic coordinator. At a TV station, you'll be maintaining daily broadcast logs, generating record logs, managing spot placement and working with multiple departments.

Canvas the job listings on local stations' websites. Make sure your media cover letter hits on your organizational and scheduling skills. Once you have that first job as a traffic coordinator, other stations tend to overlook the fact that you don't have a college degree.

Start Your Own News Website

Can't seem to find the right opportunities you're looking for in a media career? Start your own news website to give yourself an instant media job on your resume.

Your first step is to decide what type of news site you want to cover. Find a niche, report the news in your city or specific types of events, such as music festivals. Use your news website as a springboard to get you to the media career you dream of. In other words, if you want to become a professional journalist, your website should be written like it's run by a professional journalist. No typos. No grammatical errors. No sloppy writing.

Paid Internships

Internships are usually associated with college credit. However, you can find paid internships that are open to anyone, even those who've bypassed college. Because they're internships, they're usually offered for a specific time frame, such as six months. After six months, your internship is over.

The good news is, working as an intern puts you face-to-face with potential bosses. Paid internships at TV stations, newspapers and magazines, for example, give you an inside look at daily operations while you fulfill your internship responsibilities, which may include writing, newsgathering, production duties, commercial shoots and assisting management. Even if the internship doesn't lead to a permanent, full-time job within that company, it's still valuable experience you can use on your resume in lieu of a college degree.