Professional photographers can find a broad range of career opportunities across the economy. More than half are self-employed, shooting for fashion, broadcast, print and web media, while others work in advertising and public relations or a staff media role at corporations. You might also choose to take photos for art galleries, an online photography business, or commercial and industrial clients.
More photographers and clients now prefer digital media over traditional film, so knowledge of digital photography techniques may improve job prospects, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2010. Those who process their own digital images need to be familiar with computers, high-quality printers and editing software.
About associate degrees in photography
Associate degrees in photography offer an introduction to the tools of the trade and the equipment, processes and techniques used. Courses can include a historical and artistic overview of the field, as well as principles of lighting and color and traditional darkroom techniques. You can also build a portfolio to impress individual customers or employers. Many online photography degree programs incorporate studies with graphics design, multimedia production and business.
Specializations include portrait, scientific, news and fine arts photography. Entry-level positions in photojournalism or in industrial or scientific photography often require a college degree in the field or a related major.
Photography career outlook and salary
The BLS projects about a 12.5 percent rise in the employment of photographers during the 2010-2020 decade. Photographers may begin careers as photo assistants and, with education and experience, rise to roles as chief photographer, photo editor, art director, consultant or teacher.
The mean 2010 annual wage for photographers was $29,130, the BLS reports, while top earners brought home more than $63,000. The highest pay for 2010 was seen in the District of Columbia, Connecticut, New York, Illinois and Virginia.
Where is photography going?
The art of photography is still alive, despite the fact that so many individuals take their own digital photos today with cameras and cell phones. Successful professionals, the BLS predicts, will stay atop of the technological transformations of the field while at the same time developing skills in managing a business and building their creativity. Experience and on-the-job training are important in this career, and online photography programs enable you to study up-to-date techniques at the same time as gaining real-world work experience.