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Foreign Correspondent Job Description, Career as a Foreign Correspondent, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training: Bachelor’s degree in journalism, communications, or a related discipline

Salary Median: $65,000 per year

Employment Outlook: Fair

Foreign correspondents are journalists or commentators stationed in a foreign country. They gather and analyze events of international importance, and they write news stories for newspapers, magazines, and radio and television broadcasts. The job involves interviewing people and collecting background information and details of events. Once the news has been gathered, foreign correspondents prepare reports and review the copy for errors in grammar, punctuation, content, and accuracy. While making such reports, they have to follow formatting and editorial guidelines.

The job of a foreign correspondent is much the same as that of a reporter. However, correspondents often have the liberty to express their own views or interpretations of news and events, whereas reporters are confined to unbiased fact-based reporting. Correspondents also provide substantial context to the news events, highlighting the important facts and details.

Education and Training Requirements

Candidates interested in becoming foreign correspondents should earn a bachelor’s degree in journalism, mass communications, or a similar field. Ideally, a student should enroll in a program accepted by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications. Those interested in taking jobs in publication houses should specialize in news-editorial journalism, while those keen on broadcasting careers should focus on television and radio news production. Since the Internet also offers great employment opportunities, it is a good idea to pick up the basics of computer software use.

Further studies in journalism can prove beneficial in finding better opportunities. A master’s or doctorate can also help prepare a correspondent for related careers as researchers, theorists, advertising specialists, public relations specialists, and journalism teachers.

Apart from academic qualifications, candidates need a significant amount of practical reporting experience. A number of publications and broadcasting stations offer internship programs. Students of journalism can also opt for summer or part-time jobs and should work on college magazines and newspapers. Such experience is advantageous, and candidates with hands-on training are often preferred over others by employers.

Getting the Job

The majority of large publications do not recruit inexperienced correspondents. However, a lot of journalism schools offer job placement assistance to their graduates. New foreign correspondents can begin by working for a relatively small or local newspaper or station. Information regarding such openings is available on Internet career sites and in classified sections of newspapers. Interested candidates can also look up opportunities directly at local stations and newspaper offices. State employment offices also provide journalism employment news.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Foreign correspondents may start out as freelancers or working for smaller broadcast stations and publications. Initially, they may have to work as copy editors or on general assignments. After extensive training and practice, they may be given independent projects to handle. It is only after years of relevant experience that foreign correspondents will receive jobs in large stations, magazines, and newspapers. They can also move on to careers as columnists, writers, editors, public relations specialists, program managers, or publishing/broadcasting industry managers.

Though the job market for correspondents and reporters is not expected to experience a major growth in the next few years, competition will remain strong for good opportunities. There will be a greater demand for jobs in broadcast stations, national newspapers, and magazines. However, new foreign correspondents and freelancers will have better prospects in local news stations and papers. Foreign correspondents are also likely to find excellent opportunities in new media, like online magazines and newspapers. On the whole, candidates with experience in reporting or a related field, such as public relations or advertising, will receive the best offers.

Working Conditions

Foreign correspondents work in all kinds of climates. They have to travel frequently, and they need to meet U.S. deadlines even when working in a different time zone. Reporting is hectic, and correspondents need to be able to keep up with long and irregular work schedules. Those working in large publications or stations usually work from afternoon till late at night in order to be able to send in the news to morning and evening broadcasts and papers. Foreign correspondents are often under tremendous pressure and may be in risky and dangerous situations, especially when covering sensational events of international importance. However, the work in itself is considered rewarding and satisfying by most foreign correspondents.

Where to Go for More Information

Society of Professional Journalists
Eugene S. Pulliam National Journalism Center
3909 N. Meridian St.
Indianapolis, IN 46208

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of Press
1101 Wilson Blvd., Suite 1100
Arlington, VA 22209

Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc.
Missouri School of Journalism
141 Neff Annex
Columbia, MO 65211

The Newspaper Guild
501 Third St. NW, Sixth Floor
Washington, DC 20001-2797

Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications
University of Kansas School of Journalism and Mass Communications
Stauffer-Flint Hall
1435 Jayhawk Blvd.
Lawrence, KS 66045

National Press Club
529 14th St. NW
Washington, DC 20045

Salary, Earnings and Benefits

The median annual salary of foreign correspondents in the United States is $65,000. For those new to the field of journalism, salaries are likely to be around $30,000 per year, whereas the salary range of professionals with over 10 years of experience in the field is from $58,000 to $73,000 annually. Some foreign correspondent jobs are known to pay as much as $110,000 every year.

Foreign correspondents are entitled to regular job benefits like sick leaves, paid vacations, and medical services. In addition, they might be offered housing allowances and life insurance.

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesCommunication and the Arts