Photographer Salary

Photographers work in a number of positions for magazines, newspapers, large companies or as an individual business owner. Individual needs to be creative, keen eye for shooting pictures and training, such as a college degree, to do the job. Positions in this field are projected to be competitively sought after due to the popular nature of this field. Over half of the people to choose this career path work in a self-employment situation.

Salary Overview

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the amount of jobs available in this field is projected to rise by 12% by the year 2018. The Internet, which is increasingly being utilized by magazines, journals and other print media, will be a source of increased employment for photographers. Locating jobs that pay an annual salary may be difficult for an individual entering this field and self-employment may be the chosen option. To have a better chance of being hired, a photographer will need to have experience, training and additional skills in areas such as computers, electronics or knowing another language.*

The average annual salary for a photographer and a full-time position is approximately $29,440. The median range of paid runs between $20,620 up to $62,430. Those earning the least amount were at or below $16,920, will those earning in the high in of the wage scale were at or above $62,430. Working full time for an employer often brings the photographer a higher salary than working on his or her own. Self-employed photographers have to invest their own money to purchase equipment.*

*According to the BLS,

Job Description and Outlook

Depending on the position, the work environment for a photographer can vary greatly. Those working in news photography will be outside in various types of weather and possibly be in situations that may be hazardous. There is a lot of down time during events, and standing for extended periods of time hauling heavy equipment can occur. Those working in the news environment may also have stress for meeting deadlines. Salaried photographers have a more steady schedule, such as a five day workweek of 40 hours. Photographers who do portrait work may have to travel in their local area or out of the country, depending upon assignments.

Those working on their own may not have a steady income but have greater freedom in scheduling, control of the business and in the work that they do. Photographers currently work with computers and digital cameras to a great extent, along with lighting equipment and various accessories to do the job. They need to have knowledge of software that allows them to improve and edit images and before printing them. They may take pictures at large events, scenery, individuals or other occasions depending upon the job they are currently doing. The individual may work with a company under contract for a certain type of assignment or sell their photographs online as an artist.

Training and Education Requirements

Many positions require a minimum of a bachelor degree in photography in order to apply for a job in industry. Others can pursue certification at a technical school or vocational training program. Classes offered in college or technical school programs teach the individual about photographic techniques, equipment and related procedures. Starting out in the field, an individual can gain technical knowledge and experience by working as an assistant to a photographer. Being able to work with other people, have patience, have good attention to detail and accurate in their work have a better chance of being successful in the field. Knowledge of computer software for image manipulation and printing equipment is also beneficial.

Those who are self-employed need to have business skills for maintaining financial records, doing marketing and conducting related work tasks. Those working in the news and magazine industry can ascend to a higher position of photo editor with experience or teach photography at the college level.


There are no specific certifications in this field. The main designation that a person can receive to enter into this position is through graduation from a college, technical school or vocational program with a diploma. Many professional associations offer professional development opportunities to help photographers improve their skills and advance in the field.

Professional Associations

Professional Photographers of America gives its members a number of benefits, including access to competitions,but also educational opportunities and conferences that they can attend. This group also acts as an advocate on behalf of its members. The national press photographers Association members the chance to enter competitions and to take part in professional development, among many other benefits. There is even a job bank available on the website to keep members informed of new positions that they can apply for. The American Society of Media Photographers as business resources, educational opportunities and the various events that members can take advantage of.

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