Growth Trends for Related Jobs
The Good and Bad News About Delivering the Stories of the Day
Megyn Kelly rakes in $18 million a year as an anchor for NBC's "TODAY" show, as of early 2018. Over at ABC, Robin Roberts commands the same astronomical salary. Before he fell from fame, Matt Lauer took in $25 million annually for anchoring the "TODAY" show, while Bill O'Reilly made $18.5 million at Fox News. But most news anchors, particularly in small markets, make just a fraction of the salary that these nationally known stars earn. At the same time, most anchors, no matter their audience, have similar duties, including presenting the news of the day and interviewing guests.
Anchors, who often serve as television, radio or newspaper reporters before being promoted, have a nose for news. They stay on top of current events and ferret out local information that reporters at the station might want to cover. They help shape what segments will be on each day's program, including using their judgment as to what is most important to cover and lead with. Sometimes anchors research and write segments, while at other times, they read from prepared scripts. Larger news stations have anchors for weather and sports as well.
Many news anchors have a degree in broadcasting, journalism or communications. Fledgling news anchors need to learn editing software and other computer programs to put together news segments. They must have good research skills as well as interpersonal skills to work with interview subjects and reporters.
As important as a degree is on-air experience. Students and recent graduates often take internships at television stations near their college or in small markets. Advancement often means working their way from, say, Peoria to Springfield to Chicago in Illinois.
A job as a news anchor is almost never a traditional 9 to 5 job. Morning anchors often have to pry themselves out of bed at 3 a.m. to get to the station in the wee hours of the morning to prepare broadcasts that might start at 5 a.m. On the other end of the spectrum, evening anchors often work through the 11 p.m. newscast.
News anchors work primarily at local and national radio and television stations. Top employers include the four large broadcasting networks and cable channels, such as CNN, MSNBC and Fox News. Some work for the state and federal governments as well as the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and National Public Radio (NPR). Some 41,300 radio and television announcers are in the U.S., according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The median salary for television anchors is $41,760, while radio news anchors command just $29,850, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those who work for the government and in education settings earn a median salary of $38,680 annually.
Years of Experience
As with most jobs, the more time in the industry, the higher the salary. Small markets pay substantially less than larger ones. Entry-level news anchors can start at $30,000 or less, but the average salary can climb to $46,000 by the time they hit the five-year mark, according to PayScale. Mid-career news anchors with five to 10 years of experience can earn $57,000, and those in the industry for 10 to 20 years make $71,000. The most experienced news anchors, those with 20 or more years of experience, generally earn salaries of $74,000 and higher.
Job Growth Trend
The number of anchor jobs is on the decline. The number of radio and television announcer jobs is expected to be 11 percent less in 2026 than it was in 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is due to consolidation of broadcast stations, resulting in the need for fewer anchors. Radio stations are using more pre-recorded announcements rather than relying as heavily on on-air anchors, which also reduces the need for anchors.
- Forbes: Megyn Kelly's Move To NBC Will Likely Make Her The World's Highest-Paid Female News Anchor
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook:Announcers
- Variety: TV Salaries Revealed, From Ellen DeGeneres to Katy Perry and The Rock
- Washington Times: How much do TV anchors really make? (Hint: Not all that much…)
- PayScale: News Anchor Salaries
Barbara Ruben has written about careers for WorkingMother.com and chorn.com, as well as job and career articles for the Beacon Newspapers, a group of four newspapers for older adults.