Photographer Salary

Photographers in the United States pull down an average of $15.06 per hour. In the world of Photographers, overall income ranges from $21K near the bottom to $90K at the top; this can include more than $4K from bonuses and more than $8K from profit sharing in exceptional cases. While the particular city and tenure impact pay for this group, the specific employer is the most influential factor. Some workers in this field — close to one-half — are not awarded benefits. Medical coverage is reported by half and dental plans are enjoyed by more than a third. Women are just slightly outnumbered, with male Photographers making up 52 percent of survey respondents. Most Photographers like their work and job satisfaction is high. The data in this summary comes from the PayScale salary survey.
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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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For Photographers, progressing to a Senior Photographer role may result in a significant raise. On average, a Senior Photographer can earn $58K annually. Becoming a Commercial Photographer is, more often than not, the most common role that Photographers move into when they're ready for the next step in their career. The average salary for the position is $41K. Another frequent advance is for Photographers to assume a Graphic Artist & Designer role; in this role, workers often earn $36K.

Photographer Job Listings

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Popular Employer Salaries for Photographer


Photographers seeking a sizable paycheck can earn the most at Self-Employed, where the median salary comes to $66K, though the large pay difference between employees at the top ($17K) and those starting out ($362K) creates a rather diverse pay scale.

The smallest paychecks in the field are found at Lifetouch, Inc., where the median salary is a mere $21K, 217 percent lower than the top payer.

Popular Skills for Photographer


Survey results imply that Photographers deploy a substantial tool kit of skills at work. 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. Most people experienced in Adobe Photoshop also know Graphic Design.

Pay by Experience Level for Photographer

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


For many Photographers, experience and pay levels seem to be correlated; more years in the business generally lead to more money. Those in the early stages of their career can expect to make around $32K; however, individuals with five to 10 years of experience bring in $41K on average — a distinctly larger sum. After working for 10 to 20 years, Photographers make a median salary of $48K. Individuals who have achieved more than 20 years of experience don't seem to earn much more than people who have 10 to 20 years under their belts; the more senior group reports an average income of $50K.

Pay Difference by Location

National Average: $39,314

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

For Photographers, busy New York offers a higher-than-average pay rate, 36 percent above the national average. Photographers will also find cushy salaries in San Diego (+34 percent), Washington (+29 percent), Dallas (+27 percent), and Los Angeles (+22 percent). Photographers' salaries are heavily influenced by location — Photographers in Orlando bring in salaries that are 38 percent lower than the national average. A couple other locations with smaller-than-average paychecks include Chicago (5 percent lower) and Philadelphia (3 percent lower).

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.

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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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