National Qualification in Journalism

The level 6 National Qualification in Journalism is our professional senior qualification that examines all-round competence in a range of essential journalism skills.

The National Qualification in Journalism (NQJ) is an ideal way for trainee journalists to demonstrate to employers that they have reached a senior level of professional competence as a journalist.

It is designed to meet the needs of employers and to provide trainee or apprentice senior journalists with the knowledge and skills required by a senior journalist working across the media sector.

The qualification is assessed by an e-logbook of work completed on the job, as well as exams in media law and ethics, and practical skills.


There is flexibility for candidates and employers to choose a pathway relevant to their skills and the area of the media they’re working in.

Currently, there is a news pathway for print, online and broadcast journalists and a production pathway for production journalists. There are also discrete pathways for community news reporters, local democracy reporters and journalists working in specialist brand (magazine) publishing.

A pathway for sports journalists is currently in development for 2022 and other pathways tailored to specific job roles may also be developed.

Click here to view our handy chart.

Qualification specification


Many candidates begin their NQJ training when they take up their first job, after gaining the Diploma in Journalism at industry ‘gold standard’ (grades A-C in all subjects plus 100 words per minute shorthand, if applicable).

Other candidates may join the programme with no previous journalistic training. Typically, they will be graduates, but will not necessarily have studied journalism as part of their degree. In this case, they will need to gain the essential journalism skills at diploma level before moving on to the more advanced NQJ.

Candidates must have at least 18 months’ experience working as a paid journalist (this may be reduced to 12 months in some circumstances) before taking the exams.

Employers may also set their own standard requirements. For example, journalists working in the regional press need to have the ‘gold standard’ Diploma in Journalism including court reporting, public affairs and 100wpm shorthand. Results for media law, court reporting and public affairs cannot be more than five years old.

If you would like to discuss your eligibility to register for the NQJ, please contact us. We will assess each individual candidate, validate any prior learning and determine your eligibility to begin working towards the NQJ.

Exams and enrolment

Exam dates for the NQJ are offered three times a year; March, July and November. Exams are split over two days. Find out more and enrol.

If you are an employer, you can register a candidate here.

Exam preparation workshops

The NCTJ offers exam preparation workshops to all NQJ candidates, which feature useful hints and tips for the exam day itself and practical experience, with feedback, on all sections of the qualification. Click here for more information.

Examiners’ reports

The NCTJ publishes an annual examiners’ report for the National Qualification in Journalism, which includes advice for current and future candidates sitting the qualification.

The chief moderator for each assessment provides feedback on the exams/assessments sat that year, and trainees are strongly urged to read the report and note its recommendations. The report also provides details on the number of candidates sitting the assessments each year, pass rates, award winners and the candidate pass list.

The most recent examiners’ reports are available below:





Study the National Qualification in Journalism

There are a number of ways to study for the NQJ, if eligible, so you're sure to find an option to suit your needs.

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Employer training scheme

Your employer may be able to support you through your NQJ as professional development

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Distance learning

You can study for the qualification via the NCTJ's e-learning platform, the Journalism Skills Academy

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The level 7 apprenticeship standard for a senior journalist includes the NQJ as a mandatory qualification

Keep in touch

Sign up to receive the NCTJ’s eJournalism newsletter. Sent once a month, it will keep you up to date with the latest news and developments in journalism training.