The membership of the union is divided into sectors based on different types of media and ways of working.

The current sectors are:

  • books
  • broadcasting
  • freelance
  • magazines
  • newspapers and agencies
  • new media
  • PR and communications

Every member is placed in a sector when they join the union, based on where they work and how they describe their job. However, members can change their sector if they have more interest in another sector or change their role.

Sectors define parts of the NUJ's democratic structure. In England, industrial councils represent one or two sectors. Executive councils, including the National Executive Council (NEC), as well as other bodies such as the Health and Safety Committee, have sectoral seats. Members can only vote for or seek election to sectoral bodies or seats in their own sector.

As members can only be in one sector, they need to decide which is their main area of interest. For example, a freelance magazine writer can choose whether their main interest is in freelance issues or issues in the magazine industry.

In some urban areas, branches are divided by sector. Glasgow and Edinburgh have two each, Dublin has four and London has four sectoral branches as well as four chapel branches. However, members can belong to any branch they prefer and do not have to be in the branch most relevant to their sector.

Photography is not a sector, because photographers and video journalists work across the sectors, but lens based journalists have a representative body, the Photographers' Council, as well as a photographers' representative on the NEC.