A Step-By-Step Guide – Forbes Advisor

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If telling stories on camera sounds like your dream job, becoming a news anchor might be a good fit. Anchors report for and connect with the millions of U.S. viewers who tune in to cable news channels nightly.

News anchor roles are highly coveted and require razor-sharp people skills and quick, on-the-spot thinking. Here’s our step-by-step guide on how to become a news anchor.

What is a News Anchor?

Anchors report the news on live television or radio. They generally report from the studio, but they might also report from the field if the story requires it.

Role and Responsibilities

Being a news anchor involves much more than reading a script on camera. News anchors also schedule and conduct interviews, write scripts, pitch story ideas to editors, collaborate with reporters in the field and engage with their audiences on social media.

The anchor is generally regarded as the face of the news. As a result, news anchors must maintain a well-polished appearance and possess excellent public speaking skills.

How to Become a News Anchor

Becoming a news anchor requires some formal education, plenty of hands-on experience and, most importantly, excellent communication skills and a strong work ethic.

Earn a Degree

News anchors typically hold a bachelor’s degree in journalism, communications or related fields. Some may go on to pursue a master’s degree in broadcast journalism. Some universities offer rigorous master’s programs in journalism that prepare students for careers as news anchors.

Gain Experience

Make the most of your university’s resources by getting involved with your school news stations. You’ll gain valuable experience both on and off camera and learn the inner workings of a news studio before securing a job.

Be sure to apply for broadcast journalism internships, too. The more hands-on experience you accumulate in college, the better prepared you’ll be to build your career as an anchor.

Get an Entry-Level Job

Once you’ve obtained your journalism degree, it’s time to start job-hunting. You might be tempted to look for anchor positions straight away, but the news anchor role is a mid-level to an advanced position that requires a few years of prior experience working jobs in journalism. That means recent graduates rarely land anchor jobs straight out of college.

You’ll first need to gain traction in an entry-level job such as a news assistant or field reporter. News assistants keep a newsroom or news station running smoothly by coordinating internal communications and assisting with research and reporting. Field reporters cover breaking news and report at the site of the story. Starting as a field reporter can help strengthen your on-camera presence and the video skills needed to obtain a news anchor position.

Move Up the Ladder

In the first few years of your career, you’ll work in entry-level and mid-level positions to hone your reporting, communications and writing skills. From there, you’ll begin to make advances toward anchor positions within your news market. If you started in a smaller market, you might advance into larger ones once you’ve gained a few years of anchoring experience.

Important Skills for News Anchors

News anchors wear many hats. As a result, they require a broad and dextrous set of skills to succeed.

People Skills

News anchors spend most of their days speaking with sources, engaging their audiences and communicating with colleagues in the field or studio. Great people skills are critical for anchors’ day-to-day jobs.

Additionally, anchors must maintain an air of both approachability and professionalism. They’re required to connect with audiences on a genuine level while maintaining a sense of trusted authority. Striking that balance is only possible with expert interpersonal skills.


Persistence, stamina and grit are required of any excellent reporter, and news anchors are no exception. A great anchor knows how to chase a lead, develop a story and ask productive questions, even if sources aren’t cooperating.


Anything can happen during a live broadcast, from technical errors to unexpected breaking news. Anchors must be quick on their feet to find a solution when variables arise, remaining calm all the while.


Anchors use teleprompters, cameras and other equipment on a daily basis. Understanding how to properly use this technology is critical to anchors’ success in their role.

News Anchor Salary and Career Outlook

According to Payscale, news anchors in the U.S. earn an average annual salary of about $64,000. That’s about on par with the average annual field reporter, news analyst and journalist salary ($63,230) as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Overall, careers in the news industry are projected to see a 9% decline between 2021 and 2031, according to the BLS. Still, roughly 4,900 new journalism jobs are expected to open every year throughout that time frame.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Becoming a News Anchor

Is it easy to become a news anchor?

Not usually. Becoming a news anchor is relatively competitive as this is a popular position that many journalists strive for. The interpersonal skills required of the job add an additional layer of complexity to this career path.

Do news anchors make a lot of money?

It depends on where they live. A $62,000 average annual salary is substantial in states with lower cost-of-living indexes, like Oklahoma or Mississippi. But for anchors living in more expensive states like California or New York, $62,000 could be regarded on the lower end of the pay scale.

What qualifications do you need to be a news anchor?

At a minimum, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in journalism or a related field to become a news anchor. Most employers seek out candidates who have several years of on-air experience under their belt as well. And you’ll need a solid resume tape—a highlight reel of your best clips—to show to potential employers.

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