Obtain a bachelor's degree in journalism from a recognized university. Although this is not strictly necessary for all op-ed jobs, the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that a bachelor's degree or higher is typically needed to get a job as a writer.
Journalists are trained to present a balanced, unbiased story, but there is room for opinion as well. Editorial boards for newspapers and other publications write their own opinion-based editorials, but to balance this out they also include submissions from people outside the editorial board. To become an op-ed writer you will need to build up a portfolio of your work and pitch your op-ed pieces to editors.
Find an entry-level job with a newspaper or magazine. It's unlikely that you will be able to get an op-ed job without experience, but a job as a reporter, contributing editor or even a copy editor can help you to get your foot in the door.
Practice your craft by starting a blog. A blog gives you the freedom to try your hand at editorial writing and to build up a portfolio of work. Try writing pieces on topical news items, keeping in mind that while they should be based on facts, you are free to add your own opinions and judgments--unlike straight journalism.
Contact magazines, newspapers and other publications that publish op-ed pieces. You can find publications in the annual "Writer's Market" published by Writer's Digest Books, on the Writer's Market website. Contact the editor of the publication and pitch your op-ed piece; give a brief synopsis of what you want to write on and include samples of your work. If you are looking to write a regular op-ed column, offer a suggestion for a regular theme that fits with the publication's editorials.
- BLS: Authors, Writers, and Editors
- "2012 Writer's Market"; Robert Lee Brewer; 2011
- "All the Art That's Fit to Print (And Some That Wasn't): Inside the New York Times Op-Ed Page"; Jerelle Kraus; 2009
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