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Biomedical Photographer: Job Description and Training Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a biomedical photographer. Get a quick overview of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and work environment to find out if this is the right career for you.

Being a biomedical photographer requires postsecondary education in biological, biomedical or biocommunications photography. To work in a specialized field, one additionally needs training in that specific area.

Essential Information

Biomedical photographers, also known as medical or biological photographers, produce medical or scientific images using advanced digital equipment. These photographs are typically used in scientific publications, medical journals, research reports and teaching materials. Biomedical photographers usually have extensive knowledge in science, photography and computer applications. Postsecondary education and work experience are required.

Required Education Postsecondary education related to biological, biomedical or biocommunications photography
Additional Requirements Work experience or training in the specialty field
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 3% for all photographers
Average Salary (2015)* $40,280 annually for all photographers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description

Biomedical photographers take detailed pictures or videos of such things as bacteria and viruses, surgical procedures, hospital patients, body parts and autopsies. They use a variety of camera and printing techniques; one such example is photomicrography, a technology which converts microscopic images into those viewable to the naked eye. Biomedical photographers utilize computer applications and software, like In-Design, PowerPoint, Photoshop, Flash and Dreamweaver.

Some biomedical photographers specialize in ophthalmic photography, or the use of specialized equipment, such as fundus cameras, to photograph and document areas of the eye, including the iris, retina and cornea. Other photographic specialties include operating room, dental and specimen photography.

Job Locations

Biomedical photographers work in hospitals, pharmacy companies, medical offices, health organizations, publishing houses and medical schools. They also work for research facilities, colleges and universities, ophthalmology laboratories and medical imaging firms. Biomedical photographers could also work as freelancers.

Based on reports from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of all photographers should increase by 3% from 2014 to 2024 (www.bls.gov). In May 2015, the BLS reported that photographers, including those in scientific fields, earned an average annual salary of $40,280.

Training Requirements

Postsecondary education and work experience are basic requirements for a career as a biomedical photographer. Students interested in this field can begin in high school, with classes in science, math, art and photography. Entry-level positions can be found by individuals who have earned an associate's degree, but bachelor's degree programs are also available.

Degree Programs

Students can pursue an associate's degree in photography technology with a specialization in biocommunications photography. Courses might include portraiture, photojournalism, macro-photography and multimedia production. Students could learn about photographic exposure, imaging processes, lighting equipment and design elements.

In a bachelor's degree program focused on biomedical photography, students could study magnification photography, artificial lighting, medical ethics and ophthalmic diagnostic imaging. Summer internships might be available. Students can also major in biology and take courses in biological photography or illustration.

Credentials

The Ophthalmic Photographers' Society's (OPS) Board of Certification provides credentials for specialists in ophthalmic photography. To earn an OPS credential, photographers must pass examinations and submit work samples.

Biomedical photographers produce images that may be used for medical and scientific research, reports and publications. They must have detailed knowledge of scientific processes and use photography to document information relevant to science. Professionals in this field are required to have postsecondary training in biomedical photography.


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