Photojournalism: How to Become a Photojournalist

Learn how to become a photojournalist. Research the education and career requirements, licensure, and experience required for starting a career as a photojournalist.

Do I Want to Be a Photojournalist?

Photojournalists often travel to take pictures for news articles and magazines that either tell stories or provide visual images that accompany an article. In addition to taking photos, some photojournalists are also responsible for editing and developing the pictures and preparing them for publication. Some work as freelancers and may find stiff competition for assignments, while others might be steadily employed by newspapers or magazine publications.

Job Requirements

No formal requirements are necessary to become a photojournalist; however, earning a bachelor's degree will allow an individual to learn about both photography and journalism, as well as giving job seekers a competitive edge. The table below lays out some of the requirements to become a photojournalist.

Common Requirements
Degree Level No formal requirements; bachelor's degree can help improve employability**
Degree Field Photojournalism
Licensure/Certification No licensure or certification needed, but membership in the American Society of Media Photographers can offer professional resources and networking opportunities***
Experience Employers will require photojournalists to have portfolios of their work*
Key Skills Photojournalists must be willing to work in high-pressure settings and be able to meet deadlines. Communication and decision making skills are also essential.**
Computer Skills Knowledge of photo editing software*
  • Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Monster.com, ***American Society of Media Photographers.

Step 1: Graduate with a Bachelor's Degree

Individuals interested in becoming photojournalists can pursue bachelor's degree programs in photojournalism. Students will have opportunities to learn about the history and theory behind photojournalism and begin developing skills in photography, journalism, and storytelling. Topics covered in the courses include news reporting, picture story, visual editing, magazine design, visual communication, news design, and electronic photojournalism. If a school or university doesn't offer a bachelor's degree in photojournalism, students could also major in photography and minor in journalism.

Success Tip

  • Learn how to use editing software programs. In addition to learning about photography and journalism, students can benefit from taking electives that cover editing software programs. Having the ability to edit and color correct photos may help or open up additional employment opportunities.

Step 2: Participate in an Internship

A bachelor's degree program may offer students the opportunity to complete an internship with a newspaper or magazine publication. While students may not be able to work or complete the duties of a photojournalist, they'll get opportunities to learn about the industry. In some instances, interns may be able to go out in the field with a photojournalist and assist them in taking pictures.

Success Tip

  • Consider working for a school newspaper. Working for a school newspaper will provide experience in the field. Opportunities will be available to take pictures and work with cameras and photo editing and desktop publishing software programs.

Step 3: Put Together a Portfolio

Before seeking employment, recent graduates will want to put together a portfolio of their best work. Pictures may come from projects completed as school assignments or by working for a school's newspaper. Prospective employers will want to see a portfolio in order to see an applicant's skills in the field. As photojournalists gain more experience in the field, they'll want to replace older work with newer, more professional photos.

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