Photographer: What Is Needed to Start a Career in Photography?

Photography careers are available in commercial photography, photojournalism and scientific photography. The photography job market is expected to be competitive, and individuals who are new to the field may have to start as assistants or self-employed freelancers.

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Educational Information for Photographers

While education isn't a requirement for some jobs, individuals who wish to work in certain fields, such as photojournalism, may need a college degree. Students may choose from photography, photojournalism or related programs, which may be housed in communication and journalism schools. Coursework specific to photography may include topics in history, multimedia, styles and techniques.

Some photography programs may allow students to design portions of their curriculum with the assistance of a faculty advisor. Besides coursework, students may also spend time working in studios and putting a portfolio together. Programs may offer industry-specific training, such as editing and creating photo stories. Students may also consider doing an internship to gain relevant work experience.

Employment Information for Photographers

Photographers capture images for commercial, artistic or educational purposes. These professionals are able to consider issues such as placement and lighting. Photographers also need editing skills, which may include being familiar with editing software. Interpersonal skills are useful for making subjects comfortable or working with clients on a project.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), more than half of all photographers were self-employed in 2008, although some self-employed photographers contracted their services out (www.bls.gov). Salaried photographers may work in portrait studios, broadcasting companies or publishing. Entry-level photographers may begin their careers by assisting established photographers, then advance with experience.

Career Outlook

The BLS indicated that employment of photographers was expected to increase 13% from 2010-2020. Some of the contributing factors include the increase of print and Internet-based magazines. Despite the average growth in employment, the job market would remain competitive, and there may be fewer salaried positions available due to many companies hiring freelancers. Individuals with previous work experience and photo editing skills may have an advantage.

Salary Information

In May 2012, the BLS reported that the mean annual earnings of a photographer were $36,330. Photographers working in scientific and technical services industries earned mean annual wages of $32,930. The radio and television broadcasting industries paid photographers mean earnings of $44,730, while photographers for publishers of items like newspapers and books earned mean wages of $41,150.

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Popular Schools

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    School locations:
    • Online Learning
    • Florida (1 campus)

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Online Programs

    • Bachelor
        • BFA in Commercial Photography
        • BFA in Art Education
        • BFA - Fine Art
        • BFA in Undeclared

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must live within close proximity to school locations
    • Must be graduated from high school by 2011
    School locations:
    • Florida (1 campus)

    Classroom-Based Programs

    • Associate
        • Associate - Professional Photography

    What is your highest level of education?

Other Schools:

  • School locations:
    • Florida (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Miami include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Design and Applied Arts
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
      • Musical Arts
      • Photography, Film, and Video
        • Cinematography and Film Production
        • Film and Cinema Studies
        • Photography
  • School locations:
    • New York (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Syracuse University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Certificate
      • Post Degree Certificate: Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Design and Applied Arts
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
      • Musical Arts
      • Photography, Film, and Video
        • Cinematography and Film Production
        • Photography
  • School locations:
    • New York (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at New York University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Certificate
      • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional Certificate, Post Master's Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Dance
      • Design and Applied Arts
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
      • Musical Arts
      • Photography, Film, and Video
        • Cinematography and Film Production
        • Photography
  • School locations:
    • Pennsylvania (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Temple University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional Certificate, Post Master's Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Dance
      • Design and Applied Arts
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
      • Musical Arts
      • Photography, Film, and Video
        • Film and Cinema Studies
        • Photography
  • School locations:
    • Columbia (D.C.) (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at George Washington University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Certificate, Coursework
      • Post Degree Certificate: Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Dance
      • Design and Applied Arts
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
      • Musical Arts
      • Photography, Film, and Video
        • Photography
  • School locations:
    • Oregon (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Oregon include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Dance
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
      • Musical Arts
      • Photography, Film, and Video
        • Film and Cinema Studies
        • Photography

Popular Schools

Avg. Wages For Related Jobs

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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