Photography Associate's Degree Programs

If you want to become a photographer, an associate's degree can be a great place to start. Learn more about photography programs and future prospects for graduates.

Essential Information

Associate's degree programs in photography focus on both the artistry and technical requirements needed to succeed in the competitive field of photography. These two-year programs include extensive hands-on work, with less than half the curriculum comprised of theory-based classroom studies. To apply, you will need a high school diploma or equivalent, a camera of your own, and a working knowledge of Windows and Macintosh computers.

Associate Degree in Photography

If you want to pursue photography at the associate's degree level, you can choose either an Associate of Art (A.A.) or an Associate of Science (A.S.) degree program. Through coursework and direct experience, you will learn black and white, color, and digital photography in 35mm, medium, and large formats. Lessons in Adobe Photoshop and Dreamweaver allow you to digitize and manipulate your work. Alongside photography-specific courses, most programs expect students to take general education courses. Here are some of the more specialized classes you might be able to take:

  • Design and composition
  • Color
  • Lighting
  • Digital photography
  • Multimedia
  • Website design

Popular Career Options

An associate's degree in photography prepares graduates for entry-level photography-related digital art positions. Some places of employment include magazines, commercial studios, ad agencies and newspapers. Positions may include:

  • Graphic artist
  • Product photographer
  • Fashion photographer
  • Freelance photographer
  • Animator
  • Portrait photographer

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The median annual income of photographers was $31,710 in May 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Salaried photographers tend to earn more than self-employed freelancers, mostly because freelancers are required to buy their own equipment, which can be expensive. During the 2014-2024 decade, the BLS estimates that job opportunities will grow only 3% overall, although self-employed photographers may see employment growth of 9%.

Continuing Education Information

Those who hold an associate's degree in photography may go on to earn their bachelor's degree in a related discipline at a university or art school. Bachelor's degree programs may include business courses, which provide students with the skills they may need to start their own photography companies or successfully gain employment in an increasingly competitive industry.

Overall, an associate's degree in photography provides students with the general education and photography-specific knowledge they need for entry-level positions in the field or further studies. Photographers should expect to face strong competition for jobs, but those who are self-employed may find more opportunities.

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