One question most aspiring photographers ask is "should I get a degree in photography before starting my business?" Maybe a better question is does going to college actually prepare you for a career in photography? A recent article published by Kiplinger suggests that Film and Photography students (as well as graphic designers) are ill prepared in finding paying jobs upon graduation.
According to the study, the unemployment rate for accredited photographers is 7.3% with recent graduates reaching as high as 12.9%! The median salary for those majoring in photography is a mere $30,000 (only about twice that of jobs paying minimum wage). According to the article, those who graduate with a Bachelor's degree in the arts are likely to make $10,000 less than a student graduating with a BS in any other major.
Here is what Kiplinger has found for Film and Photography students:
Unemployment rate: 7.3%
Unemployment rate for recent grads: 12.9%
Median salary: $45,000
Median salary for recent grads: $30,000
Projected job growth for this field, 2010-2020: 13%
Likelihood of working retail: 2.6 times average
I'm not sure exactly what to think of these stats. On one hand, I feel like the market has grown for professional photographers. Whether it be headshots, weddings, real estate, commercial work, or small business marketing, the need for professional photography has never been greater. One the other hand, since photographers do not need to be accredited or licensed, the number of people working in the photography field has grown exponentially since the introduction of the digital camera. All that usually separates the successful professionals from the amateur photographers is the work itself and most importantly the marketing behind the business.
My own bachelor's degree was in Biology, and never in a million years would I have expected to become a photographer. In fact, the only photography class I ever signed up for was during the last semester of my senior year (it was either photography or another language). As any graduate knows, paying back college loans can be a tremendous burden. It is pretty scary to think that after you graduate, not only are you going to have a hard time building a sustainable career but you are likely going to start the whole process in tens of thousands of dollars worth of debt. Furthermore, in my experience at least, I've seen many professionals who have studied in fields other than photography (like business, marketing, or even science) build a successful photography business sooner and more profitable than those who have graduated from a 2 or 4 year art program.
The overall value of a college degree cannot be under valued, but I do find this topic interesting especially after reading such startling data. What do you guys think: on average, does pursing a degree in photography ultimately help or hinder the aspiring professional?
-via Yahoo Finance