Pursuing an associates degree in photography online can help you develop the knowledge and skills of a professional photographer.
Many people enjoy photography because it involves a high level of creativity. Professional photographers can work in all kinds of settings. Some take photographs for professional publications, such as books, newspapers, or magazines. Others take personal pictures for family portraits or special events.
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Photographers often have opportunities to either find employment or work as freelancers.
Associates Degrees in Photography Online
Here are some subjects you might study while earning an online photography associate’s degree:
- Digital imaging
- Photo editing
- Design theory
- History of photography
These subjects can help you develop the technical skills in photography. This can include how to use light and color and how to use various types of software and technology to perfect a photographic image. You can also take core courses that help you develop good writing and communication skills, which are very useful skill sets for nearly any position, including photographers.
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An online associate in photography program might also include courses in business or finance since many professional photographers also function as small business owners. Understanding the business side of things may be every bit as useful as artistic talent. Once you’ve earned an associate degree in photography online, the most common career path is to become a photographer, but there are different types of photographers.
Some photographers work in advertising, photographing products for companies. Others take pictures for newspapers and magazines, and still others take personal pictures for clients, such as family portraits or wedding pictures.
A passion for photography could potentially be combined with other interests you have. For instance, if you love nature, you could pursue becoming a photographer for a magazine for outdoor enthusiasts. Anywhere you see photographs in print or on the web, you are seeing the work of a photographer.
Photography Careers & Salaries
The broadcasting industry is the highest-paying employer of photographers. Other high-paying industries include newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers. The majority of photographers are self-employed, though many also work in photographic services.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are some careers in photography and related creative fields, accompanied by their median annual salaries.
|Annual Median Salaries
|Film and Video Editors
|Set and Exhibit Designers
|Photographers — Broadcasting (Except Internet)
|Craft and Fine Artists
|Broadcast, Sound, and Video Technicians
|Photographers — Newspaper, Periodical, Book, and Directory Publishers
|Photographers — Photographic Services
Once you have completed your schooling for photography, you might pursue certification, further training, or positions in a wide range of creative industries. In addition to pursuing a career as a photographer, you could also consider a career that involves evaluating and analyzing photographs taken by other people, like art directors at a magazine.
Photography Associate’s Curriculum & Courses
Here are some examples of courses you might take while earning an online associate’s degree in photography:
- Media Communication and Visual Literacy: This course can help you improve your ability to analyze the media you consume and become more aware of implicit messaging.
- Perspectives in History: In this course, you’ll learn to think about history with an emphasis on understanding human behavior.
- Digital Photography: This course provides a general introduction to the art of creating photographic images using modern technology and equipment.
- Introduction to Digital Imaging: In this course, you’ll spend time gaining hands-on experience with various types of photo editing software and computer applications.
- Photographic Practice in the Digital Age: In this course, you’ll study emerging technology for producing, editing, and distributing photographs.
- The Business of Photography: In this course, you’ll study the basics of how to run a photography business, such as how to manage overhead costs and set price structures.
- Lighting for Photography: In this course, you’ll study how to create different effects using various types of lighting, such as natural lighting or studio lighting.
- History of Photography: In this course, you’ll study how the art of photography has changed over the years, from the invention of the first camera to the present day.
- Photographic Aesthetic Concepts: In this course, you’ll learn how to critically analyze photographic images and how to recognize the ways in which photography can shape people’s understanding of the past and present.
- Basic Design and Color Theory: In this course, you’ll study how to create balance, emphasis, and proportion within an image and how to use different color combinations for different effects.
Exact course titles and requirements can vary at different colleges and universities.
AA in Photography Admissions Requirements
Here are some common admissions requirements you may be expected to meet in order to gain entrance to an associate’s degree program in photography:
- Application form
- Official high school transcripts
- Letters of recommendation from teachers or other mentors
- Statement of purpose describing your interests and career goals
Some colleges also ask you to submit SAT or ACT scores, but a growing number of schools no longer require standardized test scores.
Accreditation for Photography Programs Online
Before you apply to an online degree program in photography, you may want to verify whether the school you are interested in has received regional accreditation. Regional accreditation verifies that a college or university has been evaluated by an outside organization and found to meet certain academic standards.
There are many reasons why it can be beneficial to attend a regionally accredited school. For instance, attending an accredited school can be a precondition for some forms of financial aid. It may also make it easier to transfer course credits if you decide to change schools or enter a bachelors degree program.
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To learn more about regional accreditation, you can visit the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
Financial Aid and Scholarships
There are many different types of financial aid opportunities available for qualifying students, including online students. You may be able to qualify for state or federal aid or for employer programs.
Your school may also have scholarships available based on either academic merit or financial need. When choosing what schools to apply to, you may want to research the different types of financial aid each school has available for students.
To apply for federal financial aid, you can start by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). For many students, filling out the FAFSA is the first step to applying for financial aid.
Is Photography a Good Career?
Yes, photography is a good career for many professionals. Photography is a career that allows for a lot of creativity. You may also have the opportunity to help people preserve treasured memories.
If you work for a media publication or similar organization, photography can also be a way to help keep the public informed about current events. The median wage for photographers is $38,950 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Pay for photographers can vary, and jobs are often competitive. Most make between $24,544 and $77,750 per year.
What opportunities are available to you may depend on a variety of factors, such as your work experience and your geographic location.
What Education Is Needed to Be a Photographer?
If you want to work as a professional photographer, it can be helpful to have a high level of skill in working with different types of cameras, photo editing software, and related technology.
It’s also beneficial to know how to create artistic effects using lighting, color, and other visual elements. There are many ways to gain these skills. Some photographers are self-taught or learned their skills from community classes.
Employers vary in their educational expectations, but an associate’s degree can give you a comprehensive training in photography. In addition, an associate program in photography may also teach versatile soft skills and business skills.
If you would like to find traditional employment as a photographer, you may also qualify for more job opportunities with an associates or bachelors degree.
What Can You Do with an Associates Degree in Photography?
Some photographers become small business owners by opening their own photography studio, providing people with family portraits, wedding pictures, and the like. Others find employment working for companies that provide photographs for publications like school yearbooks or church directories.
Another option for photographers is to work in news media, taking photographs of current events to be published alongside stories in newspapers or online. Some photographers also take pictures of various commercial products for advertisements.
How Long Does It Take to Get an Associates Degree in Photography Online?
An associate degree program that follows a traditional 16 week semester usually takes 2 years to complete if you attend classes full-time. It may take you more time to finish if you are only enrolled in classes part-time.
Some online photography degree programs offer classes that are only 8 weeks long, which may allow you to finish faster. Taking classes during the summer can also help you complete your degree in less time.
Is an Associate’s Degree in Photography Worth It?
Yes, an associate’s degree in photography is worth it for many students. Earning your associate’s degree can help you expand your skills in working with photographic and digital imaging technology.
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It can also provide an opportunity for you to receive feedback on your work and to develop a professional portfolio that you can show to potential employers or clients. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 17% job growth for photographers over the next decade, so the field is currently growing.
Universities Offering Online Associates in Photography Degree Programs
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.
The Academy of Art University offers an Associate of Art in Photography. All of the program’s classes are 7.5 or 15 weeks long and can be completed online. To graduate, students must complete 66 credit hours with a GPA of 2.0 or higher. Applicants must submit an admissions application and their official high school transcripts to apply.
Academy of Art University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.
Columbus State Community College offers an Associate of Applied Science in Digital Photography. Students must complete a minimum of 75 credit hours to graduate. Accepting all applicants, the school offers an open enrollment policy. Official transcripts, ACT or SAT test scores, and a placement test are used to determine starting classes.
Columbus State Community College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Dakota College at Bottineau offers an Associate of Applied Science in Photography. Students taking the online program must complete 62 credit hours over the course of two years to graduate. Applicants may apply online with copies of their high school transcripts, GED, or equivalent documentation and ACT or SAT test scores.
Dakota College at Bottineau is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Dakota County Technical College offers an online program for an Associate of Applied Science in Professional Photography. Students must complete 60 credit hours and a final portfolio to graduate. Those interested in the program may apply online with their official high school transcripts, GED, or equivalent documentation and Accuplacer scores.
Dakota County Technical College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
An Associate of Arts in Photography at Foothill College. Potential courses include Introduction to Photography, Photoshop for Photographers, Lightroom and Photographic Design, and Photographic Portfolio Development. All courses are available fully online but may also be taken on campus.
Foothill College is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
Miami Dade College offers an Associate in Science in Photographic Technology. To graduate, students must complete 64 credit hours, including a class dedicated to creating a final portfolio. Students can complete the degree online. Applicants must apply online with their official high school transcripts and ACT or SAT test scores.
Miami Dade College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
North Seattle College offers an Associate of Fine Arts in Digital Art and Photography. Students must complete 90 credit hours to graduate. Classes may be taken online at each student’s own pace. Those interested in the program may apply online. Applicants must submit official high school transcripts and ACT or SAT test scores and complete a placement test.
North Seattle College is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Santa Barbara City College offers an Associate in Arts in Applied Photography. To graduate, students must complete 60 credit hours with a GPA of 2.0 or higher and a final portfolio. Those interested in the program may apply online through the school’s website with copies of their high school transcripts.
Santa Barbara City College is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
South Seattle College offers an Associate in Arts in Digital Art and Photography. Students must complete 90 credit hours over the course of 2 years to graduate. Classes can be completed online. Those interested in the program may apply online through the school’s website.
South Seattle College is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Southern New Hampshire University offers an online program for an Associate of Art in Photography. Students must complete 60 credit hours to graduate. Each class is 8 weeks long. The school offers rolling admissions for those interested in the program, which means applicants can submit applications through the school’s website at any time.
Southern New Hampshire University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
Getting Your Associate’s in Photography Degree Online
If you are interested in earning your associate’s degree in photography, there are many online program options available from accredited universities.
An online degree program can generally provide a higher level of flexibility and convenience. Online platforms allow you to communicate with instructors and other students, and some programs enable you to pace yourself and work within your own schedule.
Earning your associate’s degree in photography can help you develop experience and skill sets necessary for this in-demand field. You can start exploring accredited universities today to find the photography program that’s the best fit for you.