It's impossible to make it big as a Photographers in the United States; the average employee scrapes together only around $43K per year. With bonuses occasionally running north of $6K, profit sharing proceeds sometimes surpassing $8K, and a few commissions as high as $18K, total income for Photographers can range between $21K and $91K according to individual performance. The most important factor affecting compensation for this group is career duration, followed by the company and location. Roughly one-half of professionals in this line of work do not receive benefits; however, half report medical coverage and roughly a third claim dental coverage as well. Women make up a slight majority of Photographers (51 percent) survey respondents. Job satisfaction for Photographers is high. The data for this synopsis comes from respondents who took the PayScale salary survey.
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$24,189 - $75,513
$24K
$43K
$76K
MEDIAN: $42,523
10%
50%
90%

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$9.80 - $57.40
$9
$15
$57
MEDIAN: $15.45
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$31K$62K$93K
Salary
$24,189 - $75,513  
   
Bonus
$51.95 - $6,116  
Profit Sharing
$15.32 - $8,054  
Commission
$150.00 - $17,500  
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).
)
$21,130 - $91,038  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 18 Jan 2017 | Individuals Reporting: 836
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$20$40$60
Hourly Rate
$9.80 - $57.40  
   
Hourly Tips
$0.07 - $5.63  
Overtime
$8.84 - $38.20  
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
$51.95 - $6,116  
   
Commission
$150.00 - $17,500  
Profit Sharing
$15.32 - $8,054  
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).
)
$21,130 - $91,038  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 18 Jan 2017 | Individuals Reporting: 823

Find Out Exactly What You Should Be Paid

United States (change)

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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

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

Common Career Paths for Photographer


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Photographers who go on to become Photography Directors may see their salaries climb quite a bit. Median pay for Photography Directors is $64K annually. As Photographers progress in their field, many go on to become Commercial Photographers. In fact, this transition is more common than anything else, and pay for the position is usually $41K per year. Another common career choice for Photographers is to move into a Graphic Artist & Designer role. Typically, Graphic Artists & Designers get paid $36K.

Photographer Job Listings

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Popular Employer Salaries for Photographer


Self-Employed offers the highest compensation with a median salary of $40K.

Lifetouch, Inc. reports the lowest median salary in the area by far — it's only $24K, 68 percent lower than the top payer.

Popular Skills for Photographer


Survey participants wield an impressively varied skill set on the job. Most notably, facility with Retouching, Apple Final Cut Pro, and Adobe Lightroom are correlated to pay that is significantly above average, leading to increases of 30 percent, 25 percent, and 15 percent, respectively. Those listing Portrait Photography as a skill should be prepared for drastically lower pay. Sales and lighting also typically command lower compensation. For most people, competency in Adobe Photoshop indicates knowledge of Graphic Design.

Pay by Experience Level for Photographer

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


Photographers with a lot of experience do not necessarily enjoy more money. The average worker who claims fewer than five years of experience earns around $34K. In contrast, however, individuals who report five to 10 years in this occupation see a much larger median of $41K. Photographers bring in $46K after working for 10 to 20 years. Photographers who have stuck around for more than two decades see earnings that are only slightly higher than those of folks who have worked for 10 to 20 years; the more senior group makes around $51K on average.

Pay Difference by Location

National Average: $39,860

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

San Francisco is home to an above-average pay rate for Photographers, 26 percent higher than the national average. Photographers will also find cushy salaries in Washington (+25 percent), Indianapolis (+23 percent), New York (+21 percent), and Dallas (+20 percent). The smallest paychecks in the market, 11 percent south of the national average, can be found in Houston.

Photographer Reviews

Q: 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

Key Stats for Photographer

Gender

Female
51 %
Male
49 %

Job Satisfaction

Highly satisfied
Rated 4 out of 5
based on 174 votes.
039
Less than 1 year
3%
1-4 years
39%
5-9 years
27%
10-19 years
20%
20 years or more
11%
Location:
Years in Fields/Career:
United States (change)

Experience Affects Photographer Salaries




National Average
$40,000


Skills That Affect Photographer Salaries

Retouching
up arrow 30%

Apple Final Cut Pro
up arrow 25%

Adobe Lightroom
up arrow 15%




Product Photography
0%

Editing
0%

National Average
$40,000



Adobe Illustrator
up arrow 9%

Customer Service
up arrow 16%

lighting
up arrow 18%

up arrow 21%

Portrait Photography
up arrow 28%

Job Satisfaction

Highly satisfied
Rated 4 out of 5
based on 174 votes.

Gender

Female
51 %
Male
49 %

Years of Experience

Less than 1 year
3%
1-4 years
39%
5-9 years
27%
10-19 years
20%
20 years or more
11%

Common Health Benefits

medical benefits
Medical: 48%
dental benefits
Dental: 34%
vision benefits
Vision: 28%
dental benefits
None: 50%
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