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Do Photographers Need a College Degree?

By Michelle Ecker on March 19, 2021

Do Photographers Need a College Degree?

If you want to become a professional photographer, a helpful first step is exploring all the educational options available to you. For one, it’s helpful to know what training is required for you to get started.  

Many aspiring professional photographers often feel confused about the difference between photography certificates, online courses, college degrees, and even YouTube tutorials. There is a huge difference in what these options cost, what they can teach you, what they can be used for, and how long they take to complete. Depending on the type of job you want and how quickly you want to start your career, it’s important to understand the differences between these options before you make the best choice for your education.  

Are professional photographers required to have a college degree? 

The short answer- no.  

The majority of today’s clients looking to hire a photographer are simply looking for experience and the right quality of work. Given this, the education pathway that gets you started doesn’t really matter as much as the quality of the work you’re capable of showing- meaning you aren’t required to spend tens of thousands of dollars and years of time on a college degree in order to start working as a capable, talented photographer. What you probably need instead, is a strong photography portfolio. As Lee Morris, co-owner of F-stoppers shares in this conversation on college for photographers,  

“I do not think- 99% of the time- you should pay for an art degree- and I have an art degree so I feel like I’m able to say that.” 

Where to get professional photography training 

If you have no photography experience at all, or you have some experience but don’t feel confident enough to call yourself a pro, you should consider investing in some formal photography training until you’re more comfortable- but know that a college degree is not a requirement, and that the style and cost of your training is up to you. 

Thousands of photographers currently running successful businesses never went to college for their craft. Some are self-taught, some took courses locally at a community college or arts center, some took photography courses online

In NYIP’s online photography courses, you will cover a number of different subjects as you dive into the field of professional photography. In the Professional Photography course for example, you will receive an introduction to a wide variety of different photographic genres in order to help you explore which career path is right for you- weddings, nature, landscapes, wildlife, portraits, studio, still life and more. Throughout the course, you will complete photo projects and submit them online to be reviewed and evaluated by a professional photographer. That way, by the time you complete the program, you’ll have accumulated a beginner’s portfolio of work that you can use when coordinating with your first clients. 

If you already know what type of photography you’re interested in, NYIP also offers genre-specific courses that are more focused on certain subjects - things like wedding photography or photojournalism. 

How much does photography training cost? 

According to College Tuition Compare, the average photography college tuition cost was $9,803 per year, for the academic year 2020-2021.  

For price comparison, NYIP offers a self-paced, online photography certificate course.

With this option, you can login to an online learning center and study from the comfort of your own home while still communicating with a real team of photography teachers.  

Get started at NYIP 

If you think an online photography course at NYIP is the right fit for your training needs, you can get started at any time. These online courses have no official start dates, class times or project due dates- meaning you make your entire schedule from home based on your personal preferences. You can work entirely at your own pace. 

You can enroll and get started online or call 1-800-583-1736 to get started over the phone with one of our student services representatives.