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Photojournalism Education Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a photojournalist. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about schooling, job duties and important skills to find out if this is the career for you.

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There are a number of degree and course options for a photojournalist to pursue, but experience and skills are what count, as shown through a portfolio. We will delve into further detail on the educational essentials and abilities needed to become a photojournalist.

Essential Information

Photojournalism is a type of journalism that uses photographs to convey a story. Photojournalists use cameras as their tools to create images; they then assemble the images into a story and may also supplement a written story with their images. A bachelor's degree in journalism, visual communications or photography is usually required in order to become a photojournalist. Having an extensive portfolio of one's work is important for seeking employment. In addition, these professionals must be skilled in photo editing, photographic techniques, reporting, writing and proofreading.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in journalism, photography, visual communications or related field
Required Skills Photo editing, writing, proofreading, reporting and photographic techniques
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 3% for all photographers
Median Salary (2016)** $39,885 annually

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com

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Education Requirements for Photojournalists

There are several ways to become a photojournalist, but many photojournalists have at least a bachelor's degree along with an extensive portfolio. Some choose to complete a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism with an emphasis in photojournalism. Others opt for a bachelor's degree in visual communications. Aspiring photojournalists may pursue a bachelor's degree in photography and supplement it with journalism and photojournalism coursework.

Within these programs, students receive instruction both in taking photographs and telling stories. Students also learn about different photographic techniques, photography history and various photo editing methods. Most photojournalism programs include courses in general journalism; classes may also cover the different types of media used to convey news. Some example courses one can expect to take in a photojournalism degree program are shown below:

  • Photography fundamentals
  • Reporting
  • Photo editing and techniques
  • Layout and design
  • Ethics
  • Computer-aided editing and publishing
  • Color printing and design
  • Journalism and mass media
  • Public relations
  • Media writing and editing
  • Newspaper design

Although some photojournalists still use film, digital photography is commonplace. Students should be proficient in operating a digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera and using digital editing software such as Adobe Photoshop. Many students complete internships at college newspapers or magazines; they can compile the work produced during internships and coursework into a portfolio. All aspiring photojournalists need to assemble a portfolio that exhibits their proficiency in a variety of photographic subjects.

After graduation, some photojournalists join professional organizations. Membership can help recent graduates network and access continuing education opportunities. Two professional organizations include the National Press Photographers Association (www.nppa.org) and the Society of Professional Journalists (www.spj.org).

As we have seen, an assortment of educational choices are open to aspiring photojournalists. What is really important is building an extensive, diverse portfolio to showcase your photographic and journalistic expertise.

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