News Anchor How to become, career path, income potential

What is a news anchor?

News anchors are the lead reporters on television and radio newscasts. On television, they typically sit behind a desk and report current news stories and events in front of a camera. They may work for local, national, or international stations. Besides reporting the news, they also introduce live or videotaped segments during a broadcast where reporters in the field deliver news events and stories and talk to guests. News anchors sometimes broadcast from remote locations. They may interview guests in the newsroom or via satellite as part of the news broadcast. 

A news anchor uses exceptional public speaking skills to accurately and concisely deliver the news to their audience. They ensure the consistency and flow of the broadcast. 

News anchors are typically only in front of the camera for 1 or 2 hours a day. At other times, they work with writers and reporters to gather information and ensure the stories they report are accurate and well presented. They need to stay up to date on current events and present news stories to audiences in an informative, interesting, and unbiased way. Having a presence on social media is also required!

Although larger stations have writers and researchers, a news anchor working for a smaller station may be responsible for researching and writing stories themselves. They attend meetings where they are briefed on the day’s news, usually by a news director, and they may work with the director on choosing which stories to broadcast.

They also work with the director to organize the day’s news in a logical and compelling order. Typically the most important stories, or national stories, are broadcast first, with state and local stories following. They may have to deliver late-breaking news that wasn’t planned before air time or revise scripts as events update.

Qualifications and eligibility

Although you don’t need to have met any specific educational requirements to become a news anchor, most employers prefer hiring job candidates with bachelor’s degrees in journalism or communications.   

Professionals in this role need to have excellent verbal communication skills as the job requires them to present the news clearly, and concisely so that people of all ages and backgrounds can understand. They need good listening skills as they talk to reporters and guests while on the air. Writing skills are very important, especially for news anchors who are responsible for writing the stories they cover. Most news anchors start as reporters, where writing is a primary job function. They also need to have strong investigative skills.

News anchors must be able to perceive their audience’s reactions and make adjustments as needed to improve their coverage and connect better with the audience. They typically read off teleprompters on television, so it is crucial to have good reading and comprehension skills. A news story could break at any moment, so they should be flexible and able to improvise on air to cover unexpected occurrences. People skills are essential as news anchors work closely with a team on the air and behind the scenes.

Work environment

News anchors spend much of their day in an office, preparing for broadcasts. They may also go out into the field to gather information or cover stories, which can sometimes put them in remote and dangerous situations. They work under strict deadlines, and their work can be stressful at times.

They may need to work overtime to prepare a story. News anchors on television must be presentable at all times while on the air in accordance with station rules and regulations. 

Typical work hours

Professionals in this position may have to work early mornings, nights, weekends, and holidays. They may work extended hours to finish writing or researching a story. When in the field or on assignment, they may be away from home for days or longer at a time.   

Types of news anchors

News anchors perform the same basic duties whether they work for local, national, or international news broadcasts. A local news anchor may take on more responsibilities at the station because smaller stations are typically not staffed as fully as national or global news stations.

This means a local news anchor may research and write their own stories and present them. While national and global stations generally have teams of writers and researchers that perform those job functions. 

They may specialize in the type of news they deliver. Some work for sports stations, while others might only cover health or politics.

Income potential

The earning potential for a news anchor can vary greatly depending on geographic location, education, experience, and area of research.  

  • According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for news analysts, reporters, and journalists was $48,370 in May 2021. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $29,210, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $120,590. The top industries for news analysts, reporters, and journalists were:
    • Other information services – $73,180
    • Radio and television broadcasting – $49,720
    • Newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers – $38,210
  • The average news anchor salary in the United States was $64,070 as of August 2022. The range fell between $51,391 and $84,509.  
  • As of September 2022, the average annual pay for a news anchor in the United States is $60,901 a year. Annual salaries on the site are as high as $152,500 and as low as $15,000, with the majority falling between $27,000 and $65,000.  
  • The 5 states with the highest average pay as:
    • District of Columbia – $93,890
    • Kentucky – $93,630
    • Washington – $92,220
    • New York – $78,960
    • Wisconsin – $77,310
  • The lowest 3 states were:
    • Louisiana – $45,670
    • Minnesota – $43,020
    • New Jersey – $30,510
  • It’s worth noting that the top earners can make millions of dollars a year in salaries. Some of the highest-paid news anchors in 2022 include:
    • Sean Hannity – $40 million
    • Diane Sawyer – $22 million
    • Robin Roberts – $18 million
    • George Stephanopoulos – $15 million
    • Anderson Cooper – $12 million
    • Shepard Smith – $10 million
    • Maria Bartiromo – $10 million
    • Joe Scarborough – $8 million

Position trends

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a decline of 9% in employment for news analysts, reporters, and journalists from 2021 to 2031. Over the decade, about 4,900 openings for news analysts, reporters, and journalists are projected each year.

A decline in radio, newspapers, and television advertising revenue is expected to impact the long-term demand for these workers. As news organizations continue to consolidate and share resources, staff, and content with other media outlets, demand for news anchors is expected to drop.    

Career path

Those who start at local stations have opportunities to move to larger stations. They may move laterally as a news anchor or move into the role of a program manager, station manager, or producer. Here are some common career paths:

Business

An alternative career path is to work in business because you can use your journalism skills in many areas, such as public relations, event planning, fundraising, digital marketing, advertising, and marketing communications. News anchors can use their strong communication skills to sell products, write ads, develop marketing plans, serve customers, or recruit new employees. Every single one of these jobs requires strong communication.

Art, entertainment, and media

Their excellent communication can also help them to transition into art, entertainment, and media roles. They can use their skills for things like community development, fundraising, event management, communication, and digital marketing.

Education

Many journalism professors worked in the industry as news anchors, reporters, or journalists before becoming teachers. They bring real-world experience into the classroom and pass on their knowledge to aspiring news anchors. 

Social and community service

They can also branch out into the community or national nonprofits that focus on a variety of issues. Their skills are perfect for public relations, event management and planning, fundraising, program evaluation, grant writing, public health, and research.

Steps to becoming a news anchor

1. Get your bachelor’s degree

Technically, a degree isn’t required, but the vast majority of employers prefer applicants to have a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism, mass communications, or a similar field. Courses such as public speaking or speech can be very helpful. Some of the top journalism schools in the country include:

2. Consider a master’s degree

Although it’s not necessary, a master’s degree can give you an advantage over your competitors when trying to land a job. 

3. Gain experience

Many colleges and universities have local news stations where you can volunteer and learn how a television or radio station works. You may also find part-time work at a local station.  

4. Develop your skills

Developing your verbal and written communication skills is essential to becoming successful in this role. You can write for your school newspaper or the local newspaper in your town. Sharpening your writing and presentation skills will give you valuable skills for your career. You can also get certifications in journalism to help. Some common certifications include:

5. Find opportunities for internships

An internship is a great way to get your foot in the door and see the inner workings of a television or radio station. You’ll be able to observe different news anchors, their tones, mannerisms, and deliveries to prepare yourself for when you’ll be in front of the camera. 

6. Create a demo video

A demo video shows potential employers your strengths, confidence, and comfort when working in front of a camera. It shows how articulate you are and how well you work with others on the air. 

7. Join professional organizations

A professional organization is great for finding job opportunities and online resources. You’ll also find networking opportunities and be able to build relationships with others in the industry. Some of the top organizations are:

Tips for becoming a news anchor

If you are planning to become a news anchor, a few things can give you the edge you need. Here are some tips for pursuing this role:

  • Work for your high school newspaper and start developing your writing skills. Take creative writing and public speaking classes in high school if they are offered. 
  • Get a degree in communications or journalism. Find opportunities to volunteer, work as an intern, or work part-time in a local television or radio station while in college. 
  • Work at the university news station. This will gain you valuable experience.
  • Read a lot and write often, to hone your writing skills.
  • Practice your presentation skills whenever you can. Join school public speaking clubs or debate teams.    
  • Think about what type of new anchor you want to be. Are you interested in working for a sports station? You might be interested in reporting on economics, health, or entertainment. Let your interest steer you toward the types of stations you want to work for.

News anchor interview questions to expect

  • Are you familiar with reading from a teleprompter?
  • You’re reporting at a protest. How do you ensure you stay safe?
  • Are you comfortable reporting on unfamiliar or controversial topics?
  • How do you remain unbiased when reporting on a story?
  • What would you do if you noticed a mistake in the teleprompter script?

News anchor FAQs