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College of DuPage Photography : Employment

 
 

 

Students in our program often want to know the answers to at least one of these questions:
  • What are my employment options after graduation?

  • How much money can I make in photography?

  • I want to start working as a photographer during school; how can I start?

Employment Options:

First, the options for employment in the field of photography are many and varied. Many students who want work in the field discover that there are a wider variety of options than they would have previously thought. Here are just a few of the job titles that are available in the field of professional photography. For more thoughts on what sorts of jobs you might consider, see our list of program alumni and see what they have done after graduation from our program.

Further, you can look at these links:

Below are some of the employment opportunities available to students who graduate from our program:

Lab Technician
Photographer’s Assistant
Photographic Sales
Studio Photographer
Wedding Photographer
Photographic Stylist
Freelance Photographer
Digital Image Specialist
Portrait Photographer
Editorial Photographer
Industrial/Corporate Photographer
Product Photographer
Fashion Photographer
Photojournalist
Studio Owner/Manager

 

Earning Potential:

Every five years, the College of DuPage surveys graduates of individual programs who have been out of school for more than one year. The last survey for the Photography program was in 2005 and was done on students who had graduated from the program in 2003. At that time, graduates who said that they were working in a job related to their studies reported making an average of $31,200 annually.

Getting Started:

There are a number of things you can do to get your photography career kick-started. Remember that doing photography well means being able to repeat successes, which often means having the experience to be able to be consistent. In other words, don't try to run before you can walk.

  • You should sign up for TheList, a listserv that we maintain for COD photo students. Whenever we get a contact from "the outside world", we post it to the listserv first. To sign up, use this link. It's not only a great way to learn about things that get phoned in to us, but also students often use TheList as a way to ask questions of faculty and of each other. You might find that a fellow student is someone who is looking for an assistant or a shoot or knows of assisting work you can do. It's our own version of a peer network, and you'll find that in the photo business, networking is probably your best friend in terms of finding work.

  • In addition to TheList, we also post the same jobs notices on our Jobs board in the Photo Lab. Depending on the week, you'll find between 1 and 10 different opportunities there.

  • We have a course called Professional Photographic Practices (Photo 2700) that you should consider taking as soon as you are eligible (prereq. is 20 credits in photography). It is a course about the business of the medium and is a great primer in how to get started.

  • In addition to the Professional Practices in Photography course, there is another course that is as important, if not more so. Portfolio Presentation, Photography 2750, is the capstone course in our program. It helps students put together a professional-quality portfolio to help them in their job search. Most jobs in the photography business are obtained by showing your prospective employer a portfolio of work that you've done. There is nothing that can substitute for having a good book, and Photo 2750 will help you get it. It has a prerequisite of 30 credits in photography.

  • It's always a good idea to do some research about jobs in the field, and a good place to start on that is the ASMP website. See this link about the business of photography and this link about getting started as a photographer's assistant.

  • Looking in want ads is a reasonable idea, though you have to be a bit careful to weed out the "photo-factory jobs" (big companies that require a lot but pay little) from the bona-fide opportunities.

  • One other option is that you can start going door-to-door to studios to see if they are looking for help. This is often difficult though, in that many studios aren't looking for help and you end up spinning your wheels.

  • If you find a steady situation of some sort, you may want to consider turning it into a "Cooperative Education" course that will earn you credit towards your degree or certificate while you work. For more information about Cooperative Education, see this link or visit any one of the Full-Time faculty members in the program.

Now... Get to Work!

 
     
 

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