With consumers demanding fresh, high-quality content that's both accessible and personal, media companies are investing in digital technologies and a workforce that allows them to compete in this thriving 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)
  • The Guardian
  • The Independent
  • Informa
  • News UK (The Sun and The Times)
  • PA Media (formerly Press Association)
  • Reach (Daily Mirror, Daily Express, Daily Star)
  • Telegraph Media Group (The Daily Telegraph)
  • Thomson Reuters.

Film and television production

  • Aardman Animations
  • Archery Pictures
  • Baby Cow Productions
  • DNA Films
  • Ealing Studios
  • EndemolShine UK
  • EON Productions
  • Fremantle
  • Hat Trick
  • Pinewood Studios
  • Raw TV
  • Real SFX
  • TalkBack
  • Tiger Aspect Productions
  • Wall to Wall
  • Working Title Films
  • ZigZag Productions.

Publishing

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

Video games

  • Codemasters
  • Electronic Arts
  • Rockstar Games
  • Sports Interactive
  • Ubisoft.

Media organisations

  • Amazon Prime Video
  • Apple
  • BBC
  • Channel 4
  • Global (Classic FM, Heart, Smooth and LBC)
  • ITV
  • Sky UK
  • Virgin Media
  • Wireless Group (talkSPORT).

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 2020 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.

What are the key issues in the media industry?

This sector can be a notoriously difficult one to enter. High Fliers' The Graduate Market in 2020 report noted that graduate vacancies with media organisations featuring within The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers (including the BBC, Apple, Amazon, Bloomberg, Penguin Random House, Sky and Virgin Media) fell by two-thirds between 2007 and 2019.

Over the past few years, the sector has had to deal with a historical shift. According to the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA), in 2019 over 80% of UK consumer entertainment spending was on digital media - music, video and games - with just a fifth spent on 'traditional' media such as books, magazines and newspaper. More people are signing up to streaming services, with music streaming topping £1billion.

ERA chief executive Kim Bayley says, 'The rise of digital entertainment services has created the biggest revolution in UK leisure habits in history, enabling people to access the music, video and games they love wherever and whenever they want, and transforming the fortunes of record labels, filmmakers and games developers.'

Vide gaming is the entertainment industry's biggest income generator, but despite years of growth, in 2019 it shrunk by 3.4% to £3.77billion. ERA has put this down to the imminent 2020 releases of the new Sony PlayStation and Microsoft Xbox games consoles.

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.

It's still unclear whether the UK leaving the European Union (EU) will affect the sector significantly. The country will not be looking to participate in the next Creative Europe funding programme in January 2021. Since 2014, the EU's scheme has provided the UK with around £48million, with a large proportion going to the UK film industry.

However, statistics released by the British Film Institute (BFI) revealed that UK film production generated £1.95billion in 2019, a 17% increase on the previous year. The UK film industry was involved with major international hits such as Aladdin, Avengers: Endgame, Star Wars IX: The Rise of Skywalker and James Bond: No Time To Die - as well as the home-grown film Emma.

With its highly regarded global reputation, coupled with a consistently strong independent sector, the UK film industry is still a vibrant and exciting place to work. While the future of the sector is uncertain, it still continues to thrive and provide rewarding careers for passionate, creative-minded individuals.

Are there any skills shortages?

The Annual ScreenSkills Assessment 2019 highlighted skills shortages in the TV and film industries, with line producers, first assistant directors, series producers, storyboard artists, animators, coders and those with expertise in gaming and VFX needed to fill these gaps.

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.

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