Photography Degrees and Certificates: Online Programs
Find out what your options are for online degree programs and certificates in photography. Get information about classes offered, equipment required and employment options.
What Kinds of Photography Programs Can I Find Online?
Due to the hands-on nature of photography, online degrees and certificates in the field are not common, but some are available. Photography programs are most commonly available online in the form of certificates, bachelor's degrees and master's degrees. Certificates are generally designed for serious amateurs who want to improve their skills, covering the basics of equipment, lighting and photo processing.
Undergraduate degree programs feature courses in basic photography skills and equipment in addition to general education classes. Master's degree programs provide you with an in-depth understanding of the latest technology, in addition to exploring business related topics and photography as an art form. Graduate programs also offer the opportunity to concentrate on your areas of interest, such as commercial photography and portraiture.
|Degree Types||Certificates, bachelor's, and master's degrees are available online|
|Course Topics||Printing, photo editing, studio photography, digital image management, editorial photography|
|Equipment Requirements||DSLR camera, computer, high-speed Internet, additional software may be required|
|Median Annual Salary (May 2018)*||$34,000 (for Photographers)|
|Job Decline (2016-2026)*||6% (for Photographers)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
What Do Courses Cover?
Courses in a photography program cover topics ranging from photographic techniques and digital imaging to color theory and portraiture. At the end of your program you will have a portfolio of completed work to show prospective employers. Some of the courses you can expect to take include:
- Editorial photography
- Digital image management
- Studio photography
- Photo Editing
What Kind of Equipment Do I Need?
In order to perform as a photography student, you will generally need to purchase equipment and meet minimum technical requirements set by your school. A few items most programs require include a digital SLR camera with the ability to shoot in raw image format, a flash, tripod and lighting equipment. In addition to having access to a computer with a high-speed Internet connection, you may also need additional software, such as Adobe Creative Suite, and a photo printer with a color scanner.
What Can I Do With My Education?
You may pursue a career as a freelance photographer or try to obtain a salaried position with a publication or other organization. Overall, employment of photographers is expected to decline by 6% between 2016 and 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, (www.bls.gov). The field is expected to be competitive, with the best opportunities for those who are computer savvy or bilingual.
Salary ranges depend on whether you're working independently or for a business and how much experience you have. As of August 2019, median salaries for freelancer photographers with $36,427, while median total pay for photography directors working in various industries, such as publishing and media management, was $62,953, according to PayScale.com.