Outlook for Photography Jobs
If you're interested in a photography career, find out its employment outlook.
A little healthy competition never hurt anyone—which is a good thing, because aspiring photographers should expect to face just that when looking for a photography job.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2021 Occupational Outlook Handbook, the job outlook for photographers is expected to grow 9% through 2031, which is faster than average for all occupations. Many openings are anticipated to result from workers who transfer to different occupations, or leave the profession, or retire.
Self-employed photographers are expected to have a positive growth through the decade. Fortunately, those wanting to specialize in portrait or commercial photography will continue to be in demand.
Salaried Photography Jobs vs. Self-Employment
There are benefits to both self-employment and working in salaried photography jobs. Here are some factors to consider before you choose which option is best for you:
Artistic Control: Even the most independent photographers will have to consider their clients' needs, ideas and vision for a project if they want to make a living. However, as a self-employed photographer, you'll have more artistic control. You'll be able to accept the photography jobs that interest you and turn down the ones that don't. And because clients will choose to work with you based on your unique style, they may be more likely to allow you greater creative influence on a project.
Schedule: Self-employed photographers generally have more flexible hours than those in salaried photography jobs. They work toward meeting client deadlines on their own schedule. Salaried photographers are more likely to have a typical 40-hour week during regular business hours. This rule, however, doesn't apply to all photographers—photojournalists, for instance, often work all hours to capture images and stories as they occur.
Overhead Expenses: If you own your own photography business, you will have to provide and maintain your own equipment, rent studio and office space, and hire any necessary support staff—all of which can be major expenses. Salaried photographers on the other hand, will have access to company equipment, studio and office space, and support staff.
Customer Base: Self-employed photographers will have to learn to market themselves and find their own clients. A good photography portfolio is essential to this process.
How to Outshine the Competition
Whether you're just starting out in the business or trying to market yourself to potential clients, competition is a standard part of the photography industry. With over 125,000 working photographers in the United States in 2021, photography clients have many options.
However, graduates who can capture and edit video, in addition to their photographic skills, will be the most desirable candidates.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2021
National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.