Professional Photographer Bachelor's Degree

Find out the job outlook and potential salary of photographers. Also learn about the curriculum of bachelor's degree programs for professional photographers. Schools offering Photography degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Degree Options Are Out There?

You can earn a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Photography. The principle difference between the two is that BFA degree programs may include a heavier creative component, but both take four years to finish. Courses of study commonly culminate in a creative thesis or senior capstone project, and most programs help you develop a photography portfolio, which can be shown to prospective employers. Because of the hands-on nature in photography, online programs are rare.

Available DegreesBachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts
Class OptionsPhotography fundamentals, camera technologies, design principles, drawing and modeling, lighting and color
Career Specializations Commercial photography, photojournalism, portrait photography
Job Outlook (2014-2024) Expected growth of 3%*
Median Salary (2014) $30,490*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What's in the Curriculum?

Coursework in bachelor's degree programs in photography offer education in photography theory, art theory, photography equipment and photographic techniques. You could take classes like the following:

  • Drawing and modeling
  • Issues in contemporary art
  • Photography fundamentals
  • Advanced photography studio
  • Design principles
  • History of photography
  • Camera technologies
  • Lighting and color

What Is a Typical Day for a Photographer?

The work you do as a photographer varies depending on the location. You could work as a photojournalist and take pictures to go with corresponding news stories for television, newspapers, magazines or Internet news outlets. You could also specialize in portrait photography and work with people or groups in a studio. Another specialization is commercial photography, in which you might take pictures of objects, buildings, people or commercial products to go with advertisements.

Photographers usually work with digital cameras, and many photographers are trained in photograph alteration software. This job requires you to make decisions about the composition, angle, lighting and exposure for each photograph. You might take many photographs and choose which should be used. You may also create an electronic portfolio of work, which you can use to solicit new business. Photographers typically report to editors, photography managers or creative directors.

What Is the Job Outlook and Pay?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), photographers earned a median annual wage of $30,490 as of May 2014 ( The BLS also projected that photographers will experience a job growth rate of 3% from 2014-2024, although they also predicted strong competition for job openings, since job applicants often outnumber open positions.

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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