Photography Certifications

Find out how you can obtain a photography certification, including training programs that can help you prepare for the credential. Read on for more information about certification options, careers and potential salaries for professional photographers. Schools offering Photography degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Photography Certification Options

Photography certifications can serve as proof of competency in the use of digital and traditional cameras and are available for both general, commercial photographers and for those in specialty fields, such as forensic and ophthalmic photographers. One option is the Certified Professional Photographer credential, available from the Professional Photographers of America. Commercial photographers can also become certified in newborn, child and wedding photography, among other specializations, through Photography Certifications. In general, requirements include an image review and a passing score on a written exam.

Forensic photographers with three years of digital imaging or photography experience can earn certifications from The International Association for Identification ( In addition to passing an exam and submitting letters of recommendation, you'll also have to complete at least 40 hours of training at a college through the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or at a police academy.

The Opthalmic Photographers' Society offers certifications for ophthalmic photographers and tomographers ( The most popular certification is in retinal angiography, which requires performance and written exams, as well as submission of work samples.

SpecializationsField specializations include newborn, wedding, forensic, and ophthalmic
Key SkillsLighting, printmaking, image-editing, enhancing images, operating DSLR cameras
Median Salary (2014)$30,490* per year (for photographers)

*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Photography Training Programs

Courses and certificate programs in photography can provide you with the hands-on training and knowledge you need to obtain a professional certification. Topics may include black-and-white, color or situational photography, and you can learn how to take pictures both indoors and outside. You may also take classes in lighting, photography history and printmaking. Some courses may provide you with the opportunity to develop your own aesthetic techniques. Because photography often requires hands-on learning, most colleges don't offer online photography courses.

Depending on the course or program, photographers-in-training have the opportunity to work with 35mm film or digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) cameras. Training topics associated with a 35mm camera include darkroom procedures and developing film. In a digital camera class, you may learn how to use computers and image-editing software, such as Adobe PhotoShop, to print, crop and enhance photographs.

Employment Information for Photographers

Although not required, obtaining a photography certification may help you obtain a position as an advertising or studio photographer, news or sports photographer, a photo editor or photojournalist. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for professional photographers are expected to increase by 3% between 2014 and 2024 ( In general, freelance work may be easier to find than a salaried position. The BLS also states that, as of May 2014, photographers earned a mean annual wage of $30,490.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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