What Education Do I Need to Become a Photographer?

Working as a professional photographer requires both technical knowledge and creativity. An undergraduate program could provide you with the skills needed for entry-level photography positions. Schools offering Photography degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Educational Requirements

Photographers typically must complete a specialized degree program to gain training for entry-level jobs. The most common programs you might enroll in are a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Photography program. BFA programs typically place a greater emphasis on studio art coursework, such as drawing or painting. You can also find commercial photography associate's degree programs at community colleges, vocational schools, or technical institutes. Entry into a photography degree program might require you to submit a portfolio of your work.

Important Facts About Becoming a Photographer

Degree Levels Associate's, bachelor's, master's
Prerequisites Varies by school, but a professional portfolio may be required
Online Availability Full coursework and programs available
Possible Careers Art director; gallery assistant; photojournalist; photo archivist; photo editor; photo researcher; photo technician; teacher

Common Coursework

During a photography program, you'll be introduced to the foundations of photography, including tools, techniques, lighting tips, and exposure methods. You can also study the history of photography and develop a personal portfolio for entry into the professional world. As you progress through a program, you'll encounter more specialized photography courses, such as sports photography or experimental photography. Bachelor's degree classes also might cover advanced topics in digital photography, imaging, and software usage. Students may have the option to specialize in a subfield of photography, like portraiture, fine arts photography, and photojournalism.

Employment Outlook and Salary Statistics

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) stated that from 2016-2026, employment for photographers made a -6% decline. It was reported that it may be hard to find salaried jobs for photographers as companies now prefer to hire freelancers. The BLS reported that these professionals made a median yearly salary of $34,000 in May 2018.

Career Overview

Photographers use both film and digital cameras to reproduce images. Oftentimes, these captured pictures can be used to tell a story or promote a product. Photographers can manipulate lighting and color by using angles, lenses, and other special equipment. As a photographer, you should have the skills to develop film, as well as use digital technology to enhance, manipulate, or store photographs.

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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The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools