How to Become a


The complete career guide to be a Photojournalist: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $40,280
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 3.1%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Creativity Focused
    Career Attribute

Photojournalists capture images that appear alongside news stories, feature stories, event reports, and much more in major publications. They may capture images for local newspapers, national magazines, or online publications. They capture, edit, and submit photos for publication with clients or employers.

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What is a Photojournalist?

The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in photojournalist roles:

  • Attend events, crime scenes, war zones, and many other newsworthy venues to capture photos that appear alongside of written articles
  • Review captured photos to choose the best photographs from each session
  • Edit photos as needed using Photoshop or other photo editing programs
  • Submit final photos to publishers, employers, and clients for consideration
  • Perform run-the-business tasks to document sales, maintain records, and collect payments

A Day in the Life

Photojournalists have a seemingly simple goal—capture images that tell a story about important current issues. However, that goal is often easier said than done, and the work that a photojournalist does to produce a single published photo can be much more than imagined. Travel, equipment costs, and dangerous working conditions can all take their toll, but creating a successful image can make it worth the tremendous effort. Photojournalists are rewarded by getting to see their artwork in major publications.

On an assignment, most photojournalists are required to travel. Travel may consist of taking photographs on beaches or in cities, or it could consist of going to a war-torn country or attending tense political events. In addition, news happens all the time, which means that travel can be unexpected and require immediate, last-minute travel to get photos while it’s still possible. While at a destination, photojournalists immerse themselves in events in order to capture the perfect photo to tell a story.

Time spent on the road may be a large part of a photojournalist’s job, but there are other tasks to consider as well. They must also keep equipment cleaned, maintained, and up-to-date. Freelance photojournalists also spend time selling and licensing the images they capture, and scouring news and reports for new events and scenes to photograph. Additionally, freelance photojournalists must also perform tasks related to running a business, such as record-keeping for tax purposes and invoicing clients.

Typical Work Schedule

Most photojournalists work full-time schedules, and many are required to travel to locations for jobs. Travel may be locally, nationally, or even internationally, depending on employer. Additionally, photojournalists rarely have set schedules. They commonly work irregular hours, including evenings, weekends, and holidays.

Typical Employers

Many photojournalists are self-employed and sell the photos they capture to publishers on a freelance basis or through image distributors like Getty Images. Others are employed by newspapers, magazines, and online publishers, and take photos as assigned by their publication editor.

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How To Become a Photojournalist

Often considered to be one of the most desirable jobs on the planet, few people realize just how much effort and experience are usually part of a photojournalist career. Almost all successful photojournalists have a background that includes professional instruction, usually as part of a bachelor’s degree in fine arts. This program of study will introduce students to the theory behind how photography can tell a story, as well as important composition techniques and other skills vital to the art of photography.

From college studies, the next step for most photojournalists is to become an intern at a media outlet. Magazines and newspapers may be the traditional choice, but the emergence and boom of online media has turned the virtual world into a viable option for an internship. This internship will largely include support tasks for existing photojournalists on their assignments and the opportunity to turn theoretical training into photojournalism experience.

With extensive education and experience as an intern, only a select few will make the transition to full-time photojournalists. Those that do will have created an impressive portfolio of their images and established contacts in the media industry to get that portfolio noticed. While the road is long and difficult, those that have obtained a photojournalist position are rewarded by seeing their iconic images in print and online on a regular basis.

Photojournalist Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

Low Range




High Range


National Hourly Wage

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High Range


How do Photojournalist salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Photojournalist's can make an average annual salary of $40,280, or $19 per hour. This makes it an Above Average Salary. On the lower end, they can make $22,600 or $11 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #522 Nationally for All Careers

Programs and Degrees

Here are the most common degrees for becoming a Photojournalist. a is usually recommended and specifically a degree or coursework that prepares you for the particular field, see below.

Highest Education Among Photojournalists

  • 1.7%   Doctorate
  • 7%   Masters
  • 44.1%   Bachelors
  • 10.2%   Associates
  • 22.8%   College
  • 11.7%   High School
  • 2.4%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Photojournalist job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 3,900 jobs for a total of 128,800 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 3.1% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Below Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #515 Nationally for All Careers

What Companies Employ The Most Photojournalists

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Self-employed workers 75,500 7,100 7%
Photographic services 29,700 -3,300 -3%
Television broadcasting 3,800 400 0%

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