With consumers demanding a constant stream of high-quality content, UK media companies are investing in digital technologies and a workforce that allows them to compete in this innovative and fast-moving sector

What areas can I work in?

Employment opportunities can be grouped into:

  • advertising
  • animation
  • business-to-business (B2B) media
  • digital marketing
  • film
  • interactive media
  • journalism
  • music
  • post-production
  • publishing
  • radio
  • scriptwriting
  • special effects
  • technical production
  • television
  • video games
  • web design.

Graduate entry roles are often at assistant level and include jobs such as runner, media researcher, radio broadcast assistant and editorial assistant.

As with most other sectors, you can work for larger media and internet companies in other business areas - for example, finance, information technology (IT), marketing and human resources (HR). You could also explore digital marketing.

For examples of careers in this sector, see graduate media jobs, jobs in the film industry, video game careers and careers in music.

If you're looking to study the subject, search postgraduate courses in media production.

Who are the main graduate employers?

Examples of employers in the media sector include:

Journalism

  • Bloomberg
  • BuzzFeed
  • DMGT (The Daily Mail)
  • Guardian Media Group (The Guardian and The Observer)
  • The Independent
  • Informa
  • News UK (The Sun and The Times)
  • PA Media
  • Reach (The Mirror, Daily Express, Daily Star, OK!)
  • Telegraph Media Group (The Daily Telegraph)
  • Thomson Reuters.

Film and television production

  • Aardman Animations
  • Archery Pictures
  • Baby Cow Productions
  • DNA Films
  • Ealing Studios
  • Endemol Shine UK
  • EON Productions
  • Fremantle (TalkBack)
  • Hat Trick Productions
  • Pinewood Studios
  • Raw TV
  • Real SFX
  • Tiger Aspect Productions
  • Wall to Wall
  • Working Title Films
  • Zig Zag Productions.

Publishing

  • Anspear (formerly Pearson Publishing)
  • Bauer Media
  • Bloomsbury Publishing
  • Faber and Faber
  • Future plc
  • HarperCollins UK
  • Hachette UK (Hodder & Stoughton)
  • Hearst Magazines UK
  • Oxford University Press
  • Penguin Random House.

Video games

  • Codemasters
  • Electronic Arts (EA)
  • Rockstar Games
  • Sports Interactive
  • Ubisoft.

Media organisations

  • Amazon Prime Video
  • Apple
  • British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)
  • Channel 4
  • Global (Classic FM, Heart, Smooth, Radio X and LBC)
  • ITV
  • Sky UK
  • UKTV
  • Virgin Media
  • Warner Bros TV Productions UK
  • Wireless Group (talkSPORT, Virgin Radio).

There are a number of directories you can use to find media production companies in your area, including Kays and The Knowledge.

What's it like working in the sector?

You can expect:

  • freelance work and short contracts to be commonplace
  • long and unsociable hours
  • opportunities to work away from home or abroad, such as when filming on location or covering foreign affairs as a journalist
  • an average graduate starting salary of £31,500 at major employers (according to High Fliers' The Graduate Market in 2022 report), but for salaries to vary considerably.

To find out more about typical salaries and working conditions in your chosen career, see media job profiles.

Are there any skills shortages?

The Annual ScreenSkills Assessment 2021 highlighted skills shortages in the creative industries, with production managers (film and TV), editors and edit assistants (film and TV), engine coders (video games and VFX), hair and make-up artists (film), animators, riggers and storyboard artists (all animation), and 3D/programmers (video games) all required to fill these gaps.

Through its Unscripted TV production in the UK: 2021 skills review report, ScreenSkills has also drawn attention to a shortage of production management and senior editorial skills in unscripted TV production.

According to the Freelance survey April 2020 by ScreenSkills, freelancers make up nearly a third of those employed in the screen industries, so this shows how important it is to keep your specific media skills up to date.

What are the key issues in the media industry?

This sector can be a notoriously difficult one to enter, although jobs are starting to become available again following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Indeed, the latest High Fliers report noted that graduate vacancies with media organisations featuring within The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers (including the BBC, Amazon, Apple, Bloomberg, ITV, Penguin Random House, Sky and The Walt Disney Company) has increased by just under a third when comparing the number of graduate vacancies in 2021 to those available in 2020.

Over the past few years, the sector has had to deal with a historical shift. According to the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA), digital media spending on music, video and games has grown by 38% since 2016 - with far less spent on 'traditional' media such as books, magazines and newspapers.

More people are signing up to subscription services, with Netflix, Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ helping to drive total video sales to nearly £3.8billion in 2021, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

ERA chief executive Kim Bayley says, 'Crises tend to amplify existing trends and the coronavirus pandemic has clearly been a significant factor in the explosive growth of video streaming and precipitous decline of disc sales. On the positive side, however, the reopening of cinemas and the significant backlog of Hollywood blockbusters means we can expect renewed growth in ownership formats in 2022.'

Video gaming is the entertainment industry's biggest income generator, with spending on both physical and digital games accounting for just under £4.3billion in 2021, more than twice as much as music sales. While mobile phones and tablets are the most popular device for gamers - the release of new Sony PlayStation and Microsoft Xbox games consoles has served to boost video game sales even further.

Journalism still remains a popular career choice, but with newsrooms shrinking following the decline of print publications, and the challenge of making money from online news, opportunities are fewer than before. You'll need to demonstrate your commitment by getting plenty of work experience. Developing a range of skills - such as being able to work with video, data and social media - is essential for the modern journalist.

Statistics released by the British Film Institute (BFI) revealed that UK film and high-end TV (HETV) production has now recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic, with record levels of spending in 2021 - contributing £5.64billion to the economy. The box office total for all 2021 film releases was £602million, an increase of 144% on 2020.

The UK film industry was involved with major international productions such as the James Bond film No Time To Die plus the top grossing UK independent film, The French Dispatch.

With its highly regarded global reputation, coupled with a consistently strong independent sector, the UK film industry remains a vibrant and exciting place to work.

The demand for content has never been greater, so now's the perfect time for passionate, creative-minded individuals to enter this thriving UK sector.

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