How to Become a Photojournalist in the US


Can u tell a story without speaking or writing? If you can’t, there is another way you could do it. By becoming a photojournalist.

Photojournalism is a marriage of two professions: photography and journalism. Photojournalists use their cameras to tell stories on a range of issues, ranging from civic wars to political races. If you have a passion for photography, but wish to be more than just a photographer, this is a career you could enjoy.

What Do Photojournalists Do?

The primary responsibility of a photojournalist is to construct a story using photos. To do this they:

  • Capture images of newsworthy events
  • Edit and prepare the images for publication – This involves crafting image captions
  • Keep track of newsworthy events
  • Hold exhibitions of their photos
  • Maintain photography equipment

Although many photojournalists capture images of diverse events, others specialize in areas such as politics, culture, health or war.

Work Environment

Many photojournalists work on a freelance basis, so they don’t have a regular work schedule. However, those who have full-time jobs with established media houses work from 9am to 5pm, Monday through Friday.

This job involves extensive travel, as photojournalists must attend a range of local and international newsworthy events. When travelling, they can spend extended periods of time without their families.

The work of photojournalists is potentially dangerous. In the recent past, photojournalists capturing images of war zones have been killed or captured by terrorists.


According to, the median annual salary for photojournalists is $36, 444. The following table highlights the salaries for the lowest and highest earning photojournalists.


Annual salary

Lowest earning photojournalists

$27,000 - $36,000

Highest earning photojournalists

$50,000 - $62,000

Entry Requirements

To qualify for employment as a photojournalist, you need to earn a bachelor’s degree in photojournalism. The program covers topics in a range of essential areas, including fine art, documentary journalism, filmmaking and editing. By the time you graduate, you will be well-equipped with the knowledge and skills to succeed in today’s visually-driven world.

Some of the universities offering this degree include:

If you are a qualified photographer, you can become a photojournalist by pursuing additional courses in journalism. This will enhance your knowledge of journalism ethics and standards.

Important Qualities

To become a competent photojournalist, you need:

20 percent discount
20 percent discount
  • An aptitude for photography
  • Strong creative and artistic skills
  • Strong computer skills to use editing software effectively
  • Good business skills
  • The ability to pay close attention to details
  • Good communication and interpersonal skills
  • Good writing skills for crafting captions
  • Persistence and self-confidence
  • A good level of physical fitness
  • Good decision-making skills

Career Development

It can be quite difficult to advance your photojournalism career. This is primarily because many photojournalists work in the freelance world where advancement opportunities are minimal.

To move a step ahead and land high-paying gigs, you must be able to tell captivating visuals stories. Explore areas or issues that few are willing to capture. This will help build your professional reputations and could lead to a full-time job.

Besides, you can:

  • Pursue a master’s degree in photojournalism
  • Join the National Press Photographers Association – The NPPA offers professional training courses, which could help advance your career.

Job Opportunities

Although many photojournalists work on a freelance basis, you can find full-time jobs in:

  • National publications
  • Television broadcasters
  • Travel firms
  • Film production companies (especially those that focus on documentaries).

In time, you can advance to become an editor. With a graduate degree, you could move into teaching future photojournalists in colleges and universities. You can also run a successful visual content blog or website.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of photojournalists will grow by an impressive 36 percent through 2022.

So if you are split between being a photographer and a journalist, you can pursue a fulfilling career in photojournalism.




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