Photographer Salary

Photographers aren't exactly in the most profitable line of business; these folks earn a belt-tightening average of $42K per year. Total cash compensation to Photographers approaches anywhere from $21K on the lower end to $92K on the higher end; in exceptional cases, this can include more than $6K from bonuses and upwards of $8K from profit sharing. Career duration is the main element affecting pay for this group — the particular city and the specific company are driving factors as well. Women Photographers who took the survey just slightly outnumber men. Unfortunately, some people in this line of work are without benefits — about one-half lack coverage. On the flip side, half have medical insurance and roughly one in three receive dental plans. The majority of workers are highly satisfied with their job. The data in this summary comes from the PayScale salary survey.
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$24,069 - $75,452
$24K
$42K
$75K
MEDIAN: $42,088
10%
50%
90%

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$9.83 - $59.48
$9
$16
$59
MEDIAN: $15.61
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
$24,069 - $75,452  
   
Bonus
$51.06 - $6,183  
Profit Sharing
$98.63 - $8,109  
Commission
$-0.49 - $29,361  
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).
)
$21,199 - $91,844  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 25 Mar 2017 | Individuals Reporting: 808
© PayScale, Inc. @ www.payscale.com
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
$9.83 - $59.48  
   
Hourly Tips
$0.07 - $5.63  
Overtime
$9.30 - $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
$51.06 - $6,183  
   
Commission
$-0.49 - $29,361  
Profit Sharing
$98.63 - $8,109  
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).
)
$21,199 - $91,844  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 25 Mar 2017 | Individuals Reporting: 788
© PayScale, Inc. @ www.payscale.com

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 may progress into high-paying roles like Photography Director, where median compensation is $64K annually. Going from Photographer to Commercial Photographer is the transition that occurs most often in this field, where the paychecks are $41K. Many others choose to work as Graphic Artist & Designers, where pay is typically $36K.

Photographer Job Listings

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Popular Employer Salaries for Photographer


For Photographers, comfortable salaries can be found at Self-Employed; in fact, median earnings sit around $35K, the highest in the area.

Lifetouch, Inc. reports the lowest median salary in the area (it's only $24K) but some workers make up to $38K, indicating a rather large gap in employee earnings.

Popular Skills for Photographer


Survey participants wield an impressively varied skill set on the job. Most notably, facility with Apple Final Cut Pro, Adobe Lightroom, and Video Editing are correlated to pay that is significantly above average, leading to increases of 25 percent, 15 percent, and 12 percent, respectively. Those listing Portrait Photography as a skill should be prepared for drastically lower pay. Customer Service and Sales 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 more experience do not necessarily bring home bigger paychecks. In fact, experience in this field tends to impact compensation minimally. Those in the early stages of their career can expect to make around $34K; however, individuals with five to 10 years of experience bring in $41K on average — a distinctly larger sum. Photographers see a median salary of $46K after reaching one to two decades on the job. People who have worked for more than 20 years report a median income of $50K, which is barely higher than the median for folks with 10 to 20 years of experience.

Pay Difference by Location

National Average: $39,762

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

Home to some of the best pay for Photographers, Washington offers exceptional salaries, 27 percent above the national average. Photographers will also find cushy salaries in San Francisco (+25 percent), Indianapolis (+24 percent), Dallas (+21 percent), and Portland (+19 percent). Those in the field find the lowest salaries in Houston, 10 percent below the national average.

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 167 votes.
Less than 1 year
3%
1-4 years
40%
5-9 years
26%
10-19 years
20%
20 years or more
10%
Location:
Years in Fields/Career:
United States (change)

Experience Affects Photographer Salaries

▲26%

▲16%

▲2%

National Average
$40,000

▼14%

Skills That Affect Photographer Salaries

Apple Final Cut Pro
▲25%


▲12%


Adobe Illustrator
▲9%


photographer
▲3%

▲1%


National Average
$40,000


▼2%

lighting
▼18%

▼19%


Portrait Photography
▼28%

Job Satisfaction

Highly satisfied
Rated 4 out of 5
based on 167 votes.

Gender

Female
51 %
Male
49 %

Years of Experience

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

Common Health Benefits

medical benefits
Medical: 48%
dental benefits
Dental: 33%
vision benefits
Vision: 28%
dental benefits
None: 50%
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