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Do Professional Photographers Need to Be Certified?

By Michelle Ecker on November 09, 2020

Do Professional Photographers Need to Be Certified?

If you want to pursue a photography career, you should research what education, training or certifications you are required to receive before technically calling yourself a “certified professional photographer.” 

Education requirements for photographers 

Legally, there are not any training prerequisites required for photographers who want to start working with clients. However, if you do not have any prior knowledge or experience in taking pictures or professional photography, it would be wise to receive some type of training, or to build a beginner’s photography portfolio before you start advertising yourself as a professional. If this is something you still need to do, you can look for an affordable photography course online or take classes locally wherever you can find in-person photography training in your area.  

Can I call myself a certified photographer? 

If you are interested in not just beginning to work as a professional photographer, but explicitly calling yourself a “Certified Photographer,” then you should pursue a certification, of which there are several credible options available.  

If this is a route you are looking to take professionally, the state you reside in may require you to receive a formal photography licensure by passing a certification exam. You can research state licensing requirements for photographers if you want to learn more about the rules specific to your area.  

Many online photography classes such as NYIP’s are designed specifically to prepare you for certification exams like these, so the process of preparing to pass your exam should be straightforward and user-friendly.  

How to get certified in photography 

If you’re ready to add a Certified Professional Photographer designation to your professional photography resume, there are a few simple steps that you can follow to do so.  

  1. Prepare for your exam. NYIP’s Professional Photography Course is certified by the Professional Photographer’s of America (PPA), which means that NYIP Pro Course graduates are eligible for certification through the PPA’s exam, and the curriculum was created in order to help NYIP students prepare for and pass this industry-recognized certification exam. NYIP students complete reading assignments and watch HD video lectures, photography lessons and tutorials. Students also complete interactive projects and submit their images to be reviewed and graded by our staff of professional photography mentors. By the end of the course, NYIP students graduate with a small beginners’ portfolio of photos they can use with their first clients. The course is entirely online and self-paced, and students are given up to 2 years to complete the program- but most students finish in somewhere between 6-8 months.  
  2. Purchase and schedule your exam. The CPP program can be added to any of NYIP’s online photography classes at the time of enrollment for $473. Through NYIP’s professional relationship with the PPA, this cost for students is $50 less than the price typically offered by PPA, and includes one year of PPA membership. Students and graduates already enrolled in NYIP courses may also purchase CPP directly for the same price. After purchasing, the path to certification is a simple process. Students will begin this process by declaring their candidacy to PPA.
  3. Pass your PPA exam. Unless you have received prior training, or have personal photography experience, you will very likely need to study independently or receive some type of training in order to sufficiently prepare to pass an exam like this, the same way a lawyer would need to study or attend school before being prepared to pass the BAR. In order to technically call yourself a certified photographer, you will need to receive a passing grade on your certification exam.
  4. Submit an image set for final review. After you pass your PPA exam, you will be required to submit a set of images for official review. Once said images are approved, you will have officially earned your CPP designation, and can call yourself a Certified Professional Photographer. 

Pursue your professional photography career with NYIP 

If you want to start a career as a professional photographer and you think that NYIP could be a good fit for your training, you can get started whenever you’re ready to dive in.  

Our photography course is entirely online and self-paced, meaning there are no start dates, class times or project due dates- you make your own schedule from home. 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.