Photographer Salary

Photographers in the United States pull down an average of $15.06 per hour. In the world of Photographers, overall cash earnings stretch from $21K near the bottom to $90K near the top; these packages encompass bonuses that run close to $4K and profit sharing that can (albeit rarely) exceed $8K, along with commissions approaching $22K. The specific employer is the biggest factor affecting pay for this group, followed by the particular city and experience level. The majority of workers are highly satisfied with their job. While half report receiving no health benefits, roughly one-half do receive medical coverage, and more than a third have dental, as well. Men make up a slight majority of Photographers (52 percent) who responded to the survey. The information for this rundown comes from respondents who completed PayScale's salary questionnaire.
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$24,359 - $75,087
(Median)
$24K
$42K
$75K
MEDIAN: $42,375
10%
50%
90%

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$9.28 - $51.09
(Median)
$9
$15
$51
MEDIAN: $15.00
10%
50%
90%

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National Salary Data (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Take the PayScale Survey to find out how location influences pay for this job.
)
$0$30K$60K$90K
Salary
$24,359 - $75,087  
   
Bonus
$0.00 - $4,106  
Profit Sharing
$98.26 - $8,139  
Commission
$0.00 - $22,000  
Total Pay (?
XTotal Pay combines base annual salary or hourly wage, bonuses, profit sharing, tips, commissions, overtime pay and other forms of cash earnings, as applicable for this job. It does not include equity (stock) compensation, cash value of retirement benefits, or the value of other non-cash benefits (e.g. healthcare).
)
$20,578 - $89,960  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 12 Jan 2016 | Individuals Reporting: 928
National Hourly Rate Data (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Take the PayScale Survey to find out how location influences pay for this job.
)
$0$18$36$54
Hourly Rate
$9.28 - $51.09  
   
Hourly Tips
$0.00 - $12.15  
Overtime
$8.50 - $46.27  
National Annualized Data (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Take the PayScale Survey to find out how location influences pay for this job.
)
$0$50K$100K$150K
Bonus
$0.00 - $4,106  
   
Commission
$0.00 - $22,000  
Profit Sharing
$98.26 - $8,139  
Total Pay (?
XTotal Pay combines base annual salary or hourly wage, bonuses, profit sharing, tips, commissions, overtime pay and other forms of cash earnings, as applicable for this job. It does not include equity (stock) compensation, cash value of retirement benefits, or the value of other non-cash benefits (e.g. healthcare).
)
$20,578 - $89,960  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 12 Jan 2016 | Individuals Reporting: 962
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Job Description for Photographer

Photographers use their creative and technical capabilities to capture photos of people, places, and things. Photographers generally spend a great deal of time coming up with ways to market their skills to the public, and they are often hired to take photos at memorable events such as weddings, birthdays, and graduations. They usually have in-depth knowledge of photo editing software which may or may not be used to enhance pictures. It is also common for photographers to offer photo album designs to serve as covers for customers' memorable photographs.

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Photographer Tasks

  • Review sets of photographs to select the best work.
  • Operate various types of photographic and computer equipment to create photographic images.
  • Use creative knowledge to compose photographs.
  • Take pictures either in studio or on location.
  • Work with clients or workplace teams to create photographic images.

Common Career Paths for Photographer


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At the upper end, Photographers who move into a Senior Photographer role can end up with a hefty increase in pay. The average income for Senior Photographers is a much higher $58K per year. The most common promotion for Photographers is Commercial Photographer, a position that typically pays $41K annually. Another standard transition for Photographers seeking advancement is to assume a Graphic Artist & Designer role, where pay is often $36K.

Photographer Job Listings

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Popular Employer Salaries for Photographer


The biggest paychecks can be found at Self-Employed — the median salary there is $66K; however, employees are subject to a wide range in pay, with the lowest salaries sitting near $17K and highest ones in the neighborhood of $362K.

Lifetouch, Inc. reports the lowest median salary in the area by far — it's only $21K, 217 percent lower than the top payer.

Popular Skills for Photographer


Survey results imply that Photographers deploy a deep pool of skills on the job. Lucky workers who know Retouching can expect a significant pay bump, scoring salaries 30 percent above average. Social Media Marketing and Apple Final Cut Pro are also correlated to pay that is above average, with increases between 26 percent and 30 percent. Those listing Customer Service as a skill should be prepared for drastically lower pay. Portrait Photography and Sales also typically command lower compensation. Those proficient in Adobe Photoshop are, more often than not, also skilled in Graphic Design.

Pay by Experience Level for Photographer

Median of all compensation (including tips, bonus, and overtime) by years of experience.


In general, experience and pay appear to be strongly linked; those with more experience usually bring in higher incomes. Relatively untried employees who have less than five years' experience make $32K, but folks with five to 10 years under their belts enjoy an appreciably larger median of $41K. On average, Photographers make $48K following one to two decades on the job. Respondents who claim more than 20 years of experience may encounter pay that doesn't quite reflect their extensive experience; these veterans report a median income of around $50K.

Pay Difference by Location

National Average: $39,314

Larger city markers indicate a job is popular in that location.

With a pay rate for Photographers that is 36 percent greater than the national average, New York offers a comfortable salary for those in this profession. Photographers will also find cushy salaries in San Diego (+34 percent), Washington (+29 percent), Dallas (+27 percent), and Los Angeles (+22 percent). Photographers in Orlando take home the lowest salaries, earning a whopping 38 percent less than the national average. Two other places where employers offer below-median salaries are Chicago (5 percent less) and Philadelphia (3 percent less).

Photographer Reviews

What is it like working as a Photographer?

Photographer in Seattle:
"Awesome Work."
Pros: I love the atmosphere, the people, the fashion.
Cons: Terrible management. Zero support, zero employee validation.

Related Job Salaries

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Experience Affects Photographer Salaries




National Average
$39,000


Skills That Affect Photographer Salaries

Social Media Marketing
up arrow 30%

Retouching
up arrow 30%

Apple Final Cut Pro
up arrow 26%

Adobe Lightroom
up arrow 10%


Adobe Photoshop
up arrow 2%

Product Photography
up arrow 2%

National Average
$39,000

Editing
up arrow 2%

Adobe Illustrator
up arrow 3%

Graphic Design
up arrow 4%

Photography
up arrow 10%

lighting
up arrow 11%

up arrow 21%

Portrait Photography
up arrow 27%

Customer Service
up arrow 39%

Job Satisfaction

Highly satisfied
Rated 4 out of 5
based on 263 votes.

Gender

Female
48 %
Male
52 %

Years of Experience

Less than 1 year
3%
1-4 years
40%
5-9 years
26%
10-19 years
19%
20 years or more
12%

Common Health Benefits

medical benefits
Medical: 51%
dental benefits
Dental: 36%
medical benefits
Vision: 29%
dental benefits
None: 48%
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