Rowe attended Sydney Girls High School in Sydney, and completed a Communications degree at Charles Sturt University in Bathurst. During her studies she was a broadcaster with on-campus community radio station 2MCE-FM.
At 22 years old, Rowe started her career at Channel Nine as a receptionist for Nine's Wide World of Sports. She made her on-air debut as a weather presenter on Prime Television in Canberra. She was later spotted by Network Ten executives, and was made a main news presenter. She presented Ten Sydney's flagship Ten News at Five bulletin with Ron Wilson for almost 10 years, from 1996 until the end of 2005.
In 2005, Rowe signed a contract valued at $500,000 to host the Nine Network's Today, which she briefly co-hosted with Karl Stefanovic from late January until early December 2006. Ten took Rowe to court over her defection, claiming that a clause in their contract with Rowe prevented her from starting at Nine until June 2006. The case was dismissed on 30 December 2005, allowing Rowe to debut on the show 30 January 2006.
Rowe's early tenure with the Nine Network's Today was disastrous. There was public criticism of her presentation style on this breakfast television show, a style which was perceived by many as "annoying". Additionally, Rowe was embarrassed on 30 May 2006 by a gaffe in which Australian Brigadier Michael Slater revealed during a live cross that the interview from Dili, East Timor was being stage managed. Nine Network CEO Eddie McGuire made a public statement in June 2006 falsely stating the claims Rowe was to be "sacked" were part of "a malicious and unprecedented vilification campaign" This followed the sworn evidence in an affidavit from Nine's former head of news Mark Llewellyn that McGuire had threatened to "bone" Jessica Rowe during a meeting with executives On 26 July 2006, she fell down six stairs at her Sydney home and suffered a broken wrist, but her unborn baby was uninjured. She went back to work on Today on the following Monday.
On 6 May 2007, it was announced that Rowe had left the Nine Network due to "payment disputes".
The Sydney Morning Herald had reported on 23 July that Rowe would return to television as a news presenter for Seven News. She was also a contestant in the seventh series of Dancing with the Stars.
From February 2008, Rowe began a stint as a panelist on a new late night show on Seven's high definition channel (7HD) called The NightCap.
On 15 December 2008, News Limited reported that Rowe's contract with the Seven Network had not been renewed. The head of the network, David Leckie, confirmed that her contract had ended and that Seven was unable to offer her a permanent news presenter position, although he said that casual news presenting shifts might become available for her.
In late 2010, Rowe was appointed news presenter on Weekend Sunrise, a role she held for almost three years.
In September 2013, Rowe resigned from the Seven Network.
In September 2013, Rowe signed with Network Ten to join new morning program, Studio 10 as a co-host alongside Ita Buttrose, Joe Hildebrand and Sarah Harris
In April 2012, Rowe appeared as the narrator in Side By Side By Sondheim at the Theatre Royal in Sydney as part of a Gala Concert featuring Ruthie Henshall. The gala was held to support White Ribbon Australia, a charity which seeks to raise awareness of violence against women. The gala was part of an ongoing tour, which had started in April 2011 at Sydney's Seymour Centre.
Rowe is married to Australian television journalist and Nine News and 60 Minutes presenter Peter Overton.
On 21 July 2006, Rowe announced on Today that she was 3½ months pregnant. Further, in an interview with The Australian Women's Weekly of 22 August 2006, she said that her baby was due on 22 January 2007. The baby was conceived after four IVF attempts. She began maternity leave from Today on 8 December 2006. Sarah Murdoch was her temporary replacement, however presented the show longer than originally intended. Kellie Sloane replaced Murdoch, and was eventually replaced by Lisa Wilkinson.
Rowe gave birth to daughter Allegra Penelope Overton on 18 January 2007, four days ahead of the due date. She later admitted that she had suffered from post-natal depression during Allegra's early months, in the hope of helping other mothers in the same situation.
On 9 April 2009, Rowe gave birth to daughter Giselle Charlotte Overton and it was announced by husband Peter Overton on Nine News Sydney on 10 April. Rowe and her family reside in Vaucluse, New South Wales. Rowe was honoured in 2015 Australia Day honours with the Member of the Order of Australia.