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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.

Should I Become 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.

Career 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 Internships available; professional portfolio will be required
Key Skills Stress-management; ability to meet deadlines; communication; decision-making; computer skills with photo editing software; technical skills with camera technology
Salary (2014)$38,350 per year (Average salary for photographers)

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 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. Students may also choose to major in photography and minor in journalism if a specific school doesn't offer a formal photojournalism program.

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 typically offers students the opportunity to complete an internship with a newspaper or magazine publication. While students may not be able to perform the duties of a photojournalist, they will get opportunities to learn about the industry. In some instances, interns may assist photojournalists out in the field.

Success Tip

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

Step 3: Create a Portfolio

Before seeking employment, recent graduates should create 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 evaluate an applicant's. As photojournalists gain more experience in the field, older work should be replaced with newer, more professional photos. A solid portfolio will help aspiring photojournalists present themselves to employers in the best possible manner.

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