Quick Facts: Photographers
2012 Median Pay $28,490 per year
$13.70 per hour
Entry-Level Education High school diploma or equivalent
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Long-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2012 136,300
Job Outlook, 2012-22 4% (Slower than average)
Employment Change, 2012-22 5,900

What Photographers Do

Photographers use their technical expertise, creativity, and composition skills to produce and preserve images that visually tell a story or record an event.

Work Environment

Working conditions for photographers vary considerably depending on their specialty. Some travel for photoshoots; others work in their own studios. Still others work in laboratories and use microscopes to photograph subjects.

How to Become a Photographer

Although postsecondary education is not required for portrait photographers, many take classes since employers usually seek applicants with a “good eye” and creativity, as well as a good technical understanding of photography. Photojournalists and industrial and scientific photographers often need a bachelor’s degree.


The median hourly wage for photographers was $13.70 in May 2012.

Job Outlook

Employment of photographers is projected to grow 4 percent from 2012 to 2022, slower than the average for all occupations. Salaried jobs in particular may be more difficult to find as more companies contract with freelancers rather than hire their own photographers.


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