Photography Certification and Certificate Program Information
Photography certificate programs provide students with the basic skills needed to become a photographer. Below you'll find information on coursework, possible certifications and career projections.
Photography certificate programs are often offered at private and public colleges and universities, community colleges, design schools and trade schools. These programs typically require completion of 6-10 courses, and students gain significant hands-on experience with cameras and other technical equipment. Photographers can earn certifications that help validate their expertise, which can set them apart from the many competitors in this popular field.
Coursework for a photography certificate program teaches students photography's technical aspects, such as figuring the aperture, shutter speed and depth of field. They also study photo composition, lighting and other aesthetic aspects. Although professional-grade photography equipment isn't usually required, certain gear, like a tripod and a single-lens reflex camera, is often necessary. Required courses may include:
- Studio lighting
- Digital image management
- Landscape photography
- Wedding photography
- Commercial photography
- Digital editing
- Color and composition
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated that professional photographer is a popular occupation so individuals can expect fierce competition within the field (www.bls.gov). Still, the BLS reported that photographer jobs are expected to grow 12% between 2008 and 2018. Photographers specializing in portrait and commercial photography may find the best job prospects while newspaper photographers may find the least favorable opportunities amid a waning newspaper industry.
In 2010, photographers earned an annual average salary of $35,980, according to the BLS. Freelance photographers tend to earn less than salaried photographers and also have to purchase and maintain their own gear.
Continuing Education and Professional Certification
For students who want to pursue their photography studies further, there are degree programs in photography at the associate and baccalaureate level. Professional photographers can establish their photography proficiency by obtaining voluntary certification. The Professional Photographic Certification Commission (PPCP) awards professional photographer certifications to eligible applicants (www.certifiedphotographer.com). To earn certification, applicants must pass an exam concerning the technical aspects, such as exposure, light metering, camera parts, composition and image capture. Additionally, applicants must submit photo samples for review.
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