Online Photography Degrees

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If you have the ability to take professional photographs that evoke emotion and/or tell a story, online photography classes can help you turn your talent into a career!

Online Photography Degrees

Your artistic creativity and talent will be complemented by courses in graphic design, business, communications, marketing, and more, to provide the foundation necessary for a successful career as a professional photographer.

If this sounds exciting to you, here’s what you need to know.

Can you take photography classes online?

two photography students retouching images

Yes! Whether you’re looking to take one or two introductory courses or pursue a photography degree, you can do it online.

Online photography classes will offer flexibility to work around your already busy life. You can continue to work full or part-time, travel, and maintain your commitments to family and friends. Your coursework can be completed at your own pace – anytime, anywhere.

With online learning, you will participate in online forums and get valuable feedback on your portfolio from professors and peers. You will have the opportunity to connect with and learn from professional photographers, not just from your community, but from around the world.

How do you become a certified professional photographer?

A certified professional photographer is one who has completed the Certified Professional Photographer (CPP) program offered by the Professional Photographers of America (PPA).

To become a CPP, you must:

  • Join the PPA
  • Pass an exam
  • Submit images for official review

Earning this credential will set you apart from novice photographers. It will show clients and others that you are knowledgeable, experienced, and continuing to develop your skills in photography.

Are there different types of professional photographers?

two photographers checking lens of the camera

There are many types of photographers. They work in different settings, capturing different subjects, and using different equipment.

For example, there are:

  • Aerial photographers
  • Commercial photographers
  • Drone photographers
  • Event photographers
  • Fashion photographers
  • Fine arts photographers
  • Industrial photographers
  • Nature photographers
  • News photographers
  • Sports photographers
  • Portrait photographers
  • Scientific photographers

When first starting a photography degree program, you may not know what type of photography best suits you, but that’s ok. Throughout your education, you will be exposed to a variety of styles and have a chance to try them out yourself.

Are there degrees in photography?

head photographer guiding his students

Yes! Undergraduate degrees in photography are available at many colleges and universities.

You can even find online photography programs that you can customize to your needs. You can opt for an accelerated program that will help you finish quickly, or spread classes out to fit around your already busy life.

Online Photography Bachelor’s Degree

This degree takes around 4 years to complete and is required for many professional photography positions. It can be earned at a university, art school, or design institute. Coursework will provide a more in-depth and hands-on look at the many types of photography. You will also cover things like graphic design, artwork critique, business, entrepreneurship, and marketing.

What degree is the best for photography?

photographer looking at a portrait

Which photography degree is best for you will depend on your career goals.

To be a hobby photographer, or to gain an entry-level job, you don’t necessarily need a degree. An online photography class or a certification will be enough to will provide the foundation you need to get started.

But if you want to take your career further, an online photography school can offer you a competitive edge.

To work as a professional photographer, an associate degree may sometimes be sufficient. However, a bachelor’s degree would provide more robust education and diverse portfolio. For some professions, such as photojournalism or commercial photography, a bachelor’s may be required.

A master’s degree would be ideal for very serious artists or those who wish to teach others.

Is a photography degree worth it?

two photographers looking at the photos

If you are interested in becoming a professional photographer, yes, a degree is worth the time and money. A degree program will provide not only in-depth training in photography but also the business, management, and entrepreneurial skills necessary to be successful in this career.

While earning an online photography degree you will learn to:

  • Advertise your services to attract paying clients
  • Develop contracts and photo release forms
  • Create a fee structure
  • Plan the composition of your photographs
  • Select the best photographic techniques and equipment
  • Work with natural and artificial lighting
  • Take various types of photographs: portrait, commercial, news, action, etc.
  • Use various photo-editing software programs
  • Create and maintain a digital portfolio
  • Archive photographs

While you may learn to “take good photos” elsewhere, the skills learned during a degree program can help you turn this hobby into a lucrative and long-term career.

What else could I do with a photography degree?

A photography degree can open the door to all types of photography, as well as to educating others on the art. But that’s not all!

Eventually, your experience in photography could lead you down other creative paths. You could gain the skills necessary to become a/an:

  • Art director
  • Graphic designer
  • Video producer

With an artistic eye, your degree could lead you to many places! It all depends on your interests and motivation.

How much do professional photographers make?

two photographers doing product shoot

The salary of a photographer is hard to pin down because the profession is so expansive! The salary of a freelancer taking family photos is much different from a high-end fashion photographer or a photojournalist for a national magazine.

How much money photographers make depends on their education, acquired skills, industry, position, length of employment, and location. Some may also earn commission or bonuses, or be paid in other ways.

According to Payscale.com, the average annual salary for a professional photographer is $47,809.

Is photography a good career?

Photography is a great career for several reasons.

  1. It allows you to be creative and express yourself artistically, trying out new subjects and experimenting with things like lighting, composition, editing, and more.
  2. With advances in equipment and technology and innovative ideas from other professionals, the field is always changing and growing. You will never stop learning!
  3. It appeals to both introverts and extroverts. You can work in a team environment, interact with colleagues regularly, and work directly with clients. Or, you can photograph and edit your work independently, and never work with human subjects.

It’s very flexible. Many photographers are able to choose their rates and schedule themselves.

Is it too late to become a photographer?

It’s never too late to get into photography. It doesn’t matter how old you are or how far into another career you’ve got – the camera doesn’t care!

You can enroll in online photography classes, or even go for an online photography degree, at age 18 or age 80! In fact, a mature perspective and more life experience may actually be an asset to your photography.

Is photography a dying profession?

photographer checking the photos on the screen

No, it’s not. Let us tell you why.

Some people argue that ultra-affordable DSLR cameras and even advanced smartphones, paired with readily available and easy-to-use editing software, have made professional photography a thing of the past. There are simple camera presets, quick online photography classes, and even YouTube and TikTok videos offering tips and how-tos from the pros. Anyone can take a great photo nowadays, they say.

While that is technically true, good photography is about more than just snapping a photo with decent lighting and composition. Good photography requires creativity and passion. The photos tell stories and/or convey emotion.

They make people stop, take notice, and think or feel a certain way – just by looking at a photo! If this excites or intrigues you, if this is a gift you may have, you could have a successful career in photography. Check out some of the online classes and degrees you might want to explore in photography and other related fields.

Ready to start your journey?
Elizabeth Abner
WRITTEN BY Elizabeth Abner

Elizabeth is pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy in Foreign Policy and earned her master's degree in business administration. For her undergraduate studies, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration with a concentration in international business. Elizabeth's research is focused on universities offering online degree programs.