What level of education is necessary to break into and work up in the magazine industry? I am working on my associate’s degree in journalism, and have gotten articles published in school publications, but should I go on to get a bachelors degree? I want to make sure that I don’t run into a glass ceiling solely because of my education level. I look forward to hearing your expert opinion! Thanks a ton!
Susie, New York City
To get in as an editorial assistant, the entry-level magazine editing position, you need a bachelor’s degree from a 4-year college or university. Most editorial assistant job postings list a 4-year degree as a requirement for application, but if you have fantastic clips from big-name magazines and great internship experience, it’s possible you’ll get called in for interviews with only an associate’s degree.
If you do score interviews, you’ll be asked why you didn’t go for a bachelor’s degree, or maybe even before they decide to bring you in for an interview, so prepare a compelling response. But if you’re interested in getting a bachelor’s, do it. There are many editors who will toss your resume in the trash as soon as they see that you’ve only gotten your associate’s degree.
To freelance write, though, your clips are infinitely more important than your education. Most assigning editors will not ask to see a resume when you pitch story ideas–just your clips and your article proposal. And you CAN wind up on staff after developing a relationship through freelance writing.
If Ed were you, he’d go get a bachelor’s. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll be hired at a magazine without internships, and you usually need to be starting your third year of college to get an internship. You can try your luck with an associate’s and enroll in a 4-year school if you’re not getting interviews, but trust Ed, you’ll be glad to have a bachelor’s and internships under your belt when you’re up against the competition.