You are passionate with a camera and have a skill that can translate into a rewarding career. Although there are a preponderance of camera-equipped smart phones and digital cameras, not many people have the talent to capture photos the way that you do. For the picture-taking enthusiast, there are several career paths to take, with college or other higher education training useful in helping you to achieve your goals.
The following are four occupations for the aspiring photographer. Training, salary and career outlook information comes courtesy of the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.
There is no other career that matches what you already do: take pictures. As a photographer your skill is needed in a variety of areas including photojournalism, personal including weddings, or in education as in a scientific photographer.
Much of the knowledge photographers acquire has been learned from trial and error. A course can help you take better pictures, but if you plan to start a business, then marketing and business operations courses can help too, leading to higher pay.
The BLS reports that the average salary of photographers was $28,490 in 2012, and that the field is expected to grow by 3 to 7 percent through 2012. Most photographers are self-employed with scientific and technical services employing the second highest number of photographers. Although pay is low, those in the top 10 percent earn $67,000 per year on average.
2. Camera and Photographic Equipment Repairers
If the low average pay of photographers has you down, then take heart: people that work as camera and photographic equipment repairers earn $37,980 per year on average. The top end of the scale, however, comes in lower, at $62,700 per year. The BLS has forecast about 1,000 job openings through 2022.
Many camera operators work as apprentices. Most have some college experience with the BLS reporting 39 percent have an associate degree. A training program can help students learn to repair and adjust photographic equipment including cameras, dissemble equipment, clean and lubricate same, and test equipment performance. Workers will learn how to requisition parts as well as read and interpret diagrams, drawings, and instructions.
3. Camera Operators, Television Video, and Motion Picture
Individuals with a flair for the dramatic may find a career in the motion picture industry the way to go. Camera operators and related television video and motion picture operators help produce advertising copy, television shows, video production, even motion pictures. Its an exciting career that takes these professionals on location at far-flung places around the world.
Most professionals have training beyond high school. The BLS reports 41 percent have an associate degree and 24 percent possess a bachelor’s degree. The average salary as of 2012 was $40,300 per year with those in the 90th percentile earning an average of $86,000 per year. Job growth is expected to come in below average through 2012, however.
4. Photographic Process Workers and Processing Machine Operators
The number of people involved in processing photographs has declined in recent years and shows little to no growth in the coming decade. However, of the four occupations featured herein such individuals number 47,000 strong. Some 13,900 new openings are expected to launch in the coming decade as current workers retire or move on to new careers.
These individuals are tasked with performing work “involved in developing and processing photographic images from film…” They also create prints, examine developed prints for defects, load and manage equipment, measure and mix chemicals, and fill tanks with processing solutions. Pay comes in at $23,120 per year on average as of 2012 notes the BLS.