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CostHelper > Schools & Job Training  > Becoming a Photographer

Becoming a Photographer Cost


How Much Does Becoming a Photographer Cost?

 
average costAssociate's Degree: $3,000+ Per Yearhigh costBachelor's Degree: $8,200-$28,000+ Per Year

Professional photographers capture and preserve images in order to tell stories, record events or sell products.

Typical costs:

  • Many aspiring photographers obtain degrees from a four-year university in fine arts, photography or a field related to their desired photographic subject. In 2012, the average annual cost of earning a four-year bachelor's degree from a public college is $8,244 for in-state students and $20,770 for out-of-state students, according to the College Board. For example, University of Texas at Austin Fine Arts degree[1] , which offers a photography major, costs $10,000 in tuition annually.
  • In 2012, the average annual cost of earning a four-year bachelor's degree from a private college is $14,487 for a profit-based university to $28,500 for a nonprofit university, but can run higher much higher. For example, the Brooks Institute[2] , a for-profit college in Santa Barbara, CA, offers a four-year photography degree for $78,480.
  • Earning a two-year associate's degree in photography costs about $3,000 each year, or $6,000 total, according to the College Board. For example, Lebanon College of New Hampshire offers an associate's degree in photography for $4,100 a year, or $175 per credit.
  • Photographers who do not obtain formal education may opt to take continuing education courses in photography, business, networking or other related subjects.
  • Many equipment purchases are necessary to perform on the job. The aspiring photographer's first act will likely be buying a camera, which can cost from $500 to more than $3,000. The photographer may want to have more than one lens as well; these cost another $60-$2,000.
Related articles: College, Community College, Digital Camera, Camera Lens

What should be included:
  • Formal education is not required in portrait photography and some other commercial photography. However, for fields such as photojournalism, most employers seek photographers with a degree in photography, fine art, journalism or a related study. Commercial photographers, such as wedding photographers and portrait photographers, are less likely to have degrees.
  • Many photographers work on a freelance basis, or operate as a small business unto themselves. Some start as apprentices, working with established photographers; others solicit work through classifieds, friends or networking to build a customer base.
  • Public universities are typically less expensive than private universities and may offer a greater variety of classes.
  • Before buying a camera and lens, consider what sorts of photographs it will be used for. The Nikon D200[3] , which costs $1,300 without a lens and up to $3,000 with a lens, is popular for sports photography; some landscape photographers prefer a Canon EOS 60Da[4]
Additional costs:
  • Aspiring photographers may consider joining one of the many photography trade associations to network and learn new skills. Membership to these groups, which include the Professional Photographers of America[5] , the National Press Photographers Association and the North American Nature Photography Association[6] , cost $25-$350.
  • Portfolio materials, which can include physical prints and an album or case, can cost $100-$1,000 or more.
  • Additional camera equipment include tripods ($100-$1,500), camera bags (about $100) and memory cards (about $15).
Shopping for becoming a photographer:
  • Learn more about the trade at the Professional Photographers of America[7] .
  • The US Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook[8] on photographers details how much those in the field are paid, how many people work in the field and other information.
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External Resources:
  1.  www.utexas.edu/business/accounting/pubs/tf_undergrad_fall12.pdf
  2.  www.brooks.edu/Degree-Programs/Photography
  3.  www.amazon.com/Nikon-D200-10-2MP-Digital-Camera/dp/B000BY52NK
  4.  www.outdoorphotographer.com/gear/in-focus/july-2012.html
  5.  www.ppa.com/
  6.  www.nanpa.org/membership.php
  7.  www.ppa.com/
  8.  www.bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/photographers.htm#tab-1
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