You may have your favorite television shows, or you may just love watching TV. While it is important for TV critics to appreciate the medium, simply loving TV is not sufficient to qualify for or obtain a job as a TV critic. Some luck can't hurt, but preparation and the proper skills are essential for landing one of these coveted positions.
Although TV critics have opinions and express their own preferences, it is not enough to say "I liked this show, and you should, too." Instead, they must express their informed opinion about why a show is good or not good, and make the case to the reader or to the viewer. Whether on technical grounds, or by comparison to similar shows, a critic needs to provide some rationale for an opinion. Many TV critics evaluate shows in context with the events of the times, while others focus on whether or not the shows they evaluate are effective in reaching their target audiences.
Although there is no specific educational requirement to become a TV critic, many aspiring critics earn four-year college degrees. Besides sharpening English language and writing skills, some TV critics study art, history, media and popular culture. TV critics who intend to specialize in commentary about a particular type of show, such as drama, watch and study classic TV programs in a particular genre dating back from the earliest days of television. In the 21st century, TV has expanded beyond the television set to the Internet, making computer literacy a must.
It's not necessary to develop Pulitzer-worthy writing skills on a par with a critic like Roger Ebert, but to make it as a TV critic who produces reviews for newspapers, magazines or the Internet, you must be able to construct a coherent sentence. Critics who present their reviews on the air should learn how to use a TelePrompTer as part of the process of developing camera presence. A sharp eye for detail and a good memory are also useful. Videography skills also will allow you to shoot your own segments as a TV critic for a small television station or for Internet podcasts.
As with nearly all so-called glamour careers, competition for openings for TV critics is fierce. If you're already famous as an actor or an athlete, you may have an inside track, but in most instances, you must work your way into a job as a TV critic. Some TV critics may make parallel job transfers from stints as general news reporters, music or arts critics, or feature writers. Other aspiring TV critics launch their own blogs or upload podcasts of TV reviews in the hopes of generating an audience.