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Job Description


Photographers create visual images for a diverse range of purposes.  This could be for websites, weddings, magazines, newspapers, advertising, and social photography to name but a few.

You may find it easier to first take photographs across a range of subjects or specialisms to broaden the range of your work and to find out what areas you better at.  Once you are more experienced and well known, you may want to combine photography with some of your other interests in order to specialise in a certain subjects - sport or wildlife for example.

Entry Requirements

There are various ways that you could become a photographer:


You could look for an advanced apprenticeship (level 3) in digital content & photography or creative & digital media

You will usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) including English and maths for an advanced apprenticeship

Search for an apprenticeship

College course

A college course may help you to find a job as a photographer's assistant in a studio or if you want to set up your own business it can help provide you with some of the technical and creative skills that you will need.

You could take

  • Photography Extended Diploma Level 3

You will usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) or equivalent including English and maths and a creative subject

The following colleges offer this or a similar course:

Or your local 6th form may offer an A level in photography


You could do a foundation degree, higher national diploma or degree in:

  • photography
  • visual arts
  • commercial photography
  • art and design

You will  usually need:

  • 1 or 2 A levels, or equivalent, for a foundation degree or higher national diploma
  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree

University course search

Work based route

You could start as a photographer's assistant and work your way up.

You could become a freelance photographer and specialise in a particular area such as weddings, portraits, animals, fashion, food etc.  Many photographers are self employed and self-taught.  

Career Tips

You will need to build a portfolio of your work to show your skills, it will also help if you post examples of your work online which will help get you noticed.

You could offer to take photographs at school and college productions/events or at local community events which will help you build you portfolio.

The Association of Photographers offers membership for anyone with an interest in professional photography

You could apply to join the British Institute of Professional Photography

Career Path and Progression

Many photographers are freelance, you could do a mixture of contract work and following your own interests. You could extend your range into other areas of photography like product, property or corporate work.

With training, you could also work as a press or police photographer.

With specialist qualifications, you could find employment in medical photography or illustration.

Related careers you may be interested in:

  • TV or film camera operator
  • Video editor
  • Animator
  • Art editor
  • Medical illustrator

Although you may be able to get into this role without formal qualifications, we highly recommend that you try to achieve at least a grade 4 (C) in English & Maths. Achieving this minimum grade in these subject will increase opportunities in the future and help with your career development and prospects.

If you don't achieve the minimum grades, you will be supported to continue to study English and Maths throughout your full-time education or an apprenticeship.

Required Skills

  • creativity
  • an eye for a good picture
  • attention to detail
  • patience
  • ability to work on your own imitative
  • organisational skills
  • excellent technical skills with respect to photography and camera technolgies

Salary Range

£17,000 to £45,000

Photographers are often self employed, so earnings can vary greatly depending on the projects and work you get involved in, together with how well your market yourself and develop your portfolio.

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