As national beauty pageant holder and an excellent violinist, she made her way to the television for the first time to prank on an American TV series Bloopers and Practical Jokes. Though she had no hope initially, later she got to appear onscreen and gradually made her way to journalism.
She started out in a Dallas, Texas-based KXAS-TV as a weekend anchor & reporter. She shortly worked as a reporter at Cleveland-based WOIO-TV and Cincinnati-based WCPO-TV. Later, CBS network was where she earned recognition as the co-anchor of the Saturday edition of The Early Show. She was working for primetime news along with a female anchor. It was when she just got married, general manager of the CBS network called her and told "The two female anchor concept is not working". Then, she was fired and a man was brought for her replacement.
Leaving CBS, she headed to the Fox News to serve as a weekend substitute host on Fox & Friends. She co-hosted the show with Brian Kilmeade and Steve Doocy for several years until 2012, when she left to host a 1-hour daytime weekend program called The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson. But after more than half a decade of loyalty with the network, she left the Fox network.
Carlson is also a social activist. She supports a fellow beauty queen, Miss Iowa USA Abbey Curran on organizing Miss You Can Do It, a pageant that focuses not on beauty but honors the struggle of young women with special needs. She was a savior to the pageant when she compensated the required investment when the organizers fell short of funds.
Also an author, she has released a book entitled Getting Real, where she describes her rise on Fox news channel along with her inner strength and struggles. The book became a national best-seller. Her successful TV journalism career has surely benefitted her financially as earning an annual salary of $800k, she has amassed a net worth of about $2.5 million.