The 10 Best Schools for Becoming a Photographer


Becoming a professional Photographer is an exciting field you can sink your teeth into. Let me explain. Have you ever looked at a picture and got emotional… either happy or sad? Most people, around 65%, are visual learners.

What exactly does that mean? It means a picture can provide emotion, information, instruction, pleasure, memories, or just a giggle. There are so many aspects to photography! This informative article on the best photography programs will guide you toward reaching your dreams!

Becoming a photographer is a pursuit that encompasses creativity, technical skill, and a love for capturing the world around us. It is a journey that allows one to express their unique perspective and share it with others through the power of visual storytelling.

A Great Creative Outlet

We can learn by looking at pictures or simply enjoy the beauty of a photograph for what it’s worth. If you are interested in a photography career and have a sense of creativity and attention to detail, you will do very well. Find out below more about it and where you can receive your training.  

Quick Summarization:
A successful professional photographer must have the proper training to portray their subject’s emotion and capture just the right image. If you would like to become a professional photographer, check out our featured schools to gain valuable insight and tips on how to open your own creative business in the field of photography.
Many practice photography as hobbyists in their free time and eventually, as their business grows, they become professionals… adding new clients as they go! Naturally, potential employers appreciate proper training!

Become a Photographer

Many professional photographers are self-taught; however, you will want to enhance your qualifications with continued education as technology evolves and as you progress in the field. 

Typically, locating a trade school that offers photography classes is ideal for general photography skills. In addition, earning a bachelor’s degree is also an option, especially if you intend to pursue a career in photojournalism and the like. 

Another excellent way to gain valuable training is to become a photographer’s assistant or locate an internship where you can work closely with a mentor. 


Let us help you find the best professional Photography school program at one of the following trade schools that fit your educational requirements for starting a new career, a job promotion, or simply meeting your personal goals.

Our researchers at utilize these indicators of excellent academic standards to locate exceptional Photography schools designed just for you. The following schools are listed in random order. As every school displays its unique qualities and strengths, you should search our list based on your needs and career aspirations.

The following factors were considered: 

  • Offers on-campus or online classes for flexible or convenient attendance without compromising hands-on training in the field of professional Photography,
  • Exhibits rigorous, yet engaging and innovative training in the professional Photography specialization with coursework that takes into account the readiness of students to take the next step in their budding career,
  • Taught by outstanding faculty consisting of experts in the field of Photography,
  • Held in high esteem among academic agencies, industry organizations, and journalistic resources focused on the field of professional photography,
  • Displays stellar reviews and feedback from school alumni and students,
  • Offers a convenient application process,
  • Provides exceptional Student Career Centers, Resource Departments, and easy-to-use Learning Management Systems, where applicable, 
  • Ensures the proper certifications in accordance with academic standards in the discipline of professional Photography.

If you would like to learn more about our selection process, feel free to see our Methodology page! 

Top 10 Trade Schools for Photography

Otis College of Art & Design


Photography Certificate

Are you ready to become a professional photographer? The certificate of photography program offered at Otis College of Art & Design will provide the necessary skills to work in the commercial or fine art field or both. Through your keen photographer’s eye, you can obtain employment at art galleries or studies, as well as sharpen your own photography skills.

Through Otis’ program, you will focus on getting to know your camera, lighting, editing, aesthetics, and presentation, along with marketing and promotions for whatever specialization you desire. Try them out… take two classes and if you like it, apply and reap the rewards! 

Programs offered:

  • Photography
  • Animation
  • Digital Imaging & Illustration
  • Graphic Design
  • Surface Design
  • Fine Arts

Learn more about the Otis College of Art & Design’s Photography and other certificate programs to become a professional Photographer.

The Photography Institute


Online Photography Course

This up-to-date course study is offered by The Photography Institute, a leading photography school. The comprehensive modules can be completed within 24 weeks… or you can take up to 12 months if that’s what your schedule allows. It is offered entirely online. 

Your distance learning experience with The Photography Institute will be convenient, friendly, and informative; taught by George Seper, a top freelance photographer. You will have access to 24/7 Student Support and tutor mentorship.

And, don’t think you will miss out on meeting like-minded peers… join their special Facebook Group specially designed for TPI students.

Programs offered: 

  • Photography Courses (12 Modules)
  • Advanced Modules are also available

Don’t put off turning your hobby into a career any longer! Check out The Photography Institute’s online photography course today!

Santa Barbara City College


Online Graphic Design & Photography Certificate

Santa Barbara City College provides its students with a unique opportunity: A combination of graphic design and photography coursework designed to help you become an art director, graphic designer, photographer, illustrator, and much more. 

Begin your education with the basics of design, drawing, and art appreciation… and then add in innovative technology. Learn how to create projects using all types of techniques and methods using electronic media.

Photography courses will help you sharpen your skills in fundamental use of your camera, scanning, and printing, how to use lighting, color management, building a portfolio, and much more. 

Programs offered: 

  • Graphic Design & Photography Certificate
  • Applied Photography, Associate in Arts (AA)
  • Applied Photography, Certificate of Achievement (C)
  • Graphic Design & Photography Associate in Arts (AA): Graphic Design Concentration

Take a look at what Santa Barbara City College has to offer. Learn more about their online Graphic Design & Photography Certificate program.

Savannah College of Art & Design


On-Campus or Online Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree in Photography

The Savannah College of Art & Design offers several undergraduate and graduate degree options in the field of photography. Also, they have several campus locations in Atlanta and Savannah, Georgia, as well as an online learning option. If you aspire to study abroad, no problem… They offer opportunities in Lacoste, France, and others. 

Earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree will sharpen your skills while you tap into your creativity with your own personal style. Classes include visual literacy, color, and composition, in addition to, how to build your portfolio, and much more.

Learn how to hone your skills in shooting and post-processing with the latest and most innovative technology now available. SCAD encourages participation in internships to add to your real-world experiences. 

Programs offered: 

  • B.A. in Visual Communication
  • Bachelor of Fine Art in Photography
  • M.A. in Photography
  • M.F.A. in Photography

Are you ready to become a professional Photographer? Check out Savannah College of Art & Design’s Bachelor & Master’s degree programs today!

Academy of Art University


On-Campus Photography Certificate & Online/On-Campus Degree Programs in Photography

The Academy of Art University’s School of Photography offers online and on-campus instruction in the art of taking photographs. (Their certificate program is offered only on-campus in San Francisco, CA.)

If you choose to take your degree class online, they can provide the same quality instruction as on-campus students through their Learning Management System (LMS) as they provide materials through live streams, video, interactive slides, workbooks, and audio. You will be able to share your work through the online studio and gallery. You can learn at your own pace. 

The photography certificate program will take four years to complete. Upon completion, you will be well-trained with various skills, a portfolio, and ready to go to work. So, get ready to tap into your creativity as you concentrate on the many aspects of photography.

Programs offered: 

  • Certificate (On-Campus only)
  • Associate of Arts (AA) Degree
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) Degree
  • Master of Arts (MA) Degree
  • Master of Fine Arts (MFA) Degree

Learn more about the Academy of Art University’s School of Photography certificate program. 

Stratford Career Institute


Photography Distance Learning Course

Are you just beginning your career in photography? Or, perhaps you think you would like it but you’re not yet sure? The Stratford Career Institute offers an excellent program in photography for beginners and especially if you want to turn your hobby into a career. 

SCI offers classes in the fundamentals of various styles of photography, such as portrait, film, or digital shooting. If you are so inclined, this course is wonderfully designed to help you succeed in freelance photography. And… SCI provides up-to-date materials and equipment for your training. 

Programs offered: 

  • Photography
  • Art
  • Video Game Design

Take the leap… and give it a try! Learn more about Stratford Career Institute’s online Photography course! 

New York Institute of Photography


Online Photography Courses

Are you interested in photography but don’t know where to start? Check out the New York Institute of Photography! Their all-inclusive photography course can be taken entirely online. If you’re not sure which type of photography fits your personality… The course offers instruction in wildlife and nature, portraits, weddings, still life photography, and more. 

Through this online format, you can submit your photos to be reviewed by photography professionals. Upon completing NYIP’s coursework, you will have the skills to turn your hobby into a full-time professional photographer. It should take you approximately 18 months to complete your coursework at this photography school. 

Program offered:

  • Professional Photography Course
  • Fundamentals of Digital Photography
  • Portrait 
  • Wedding
  • Nature & Landscape
  • Graphic Design
  • Business for Photographers
  • Travel
  • Photoshop
  • Photojournalism
  • Video Making

Check out the wide variety of fine art programs at the New York Institute of Photography! Begin your career as a professional Photographer today!

Southern New Hampshire University


Online Bachelor of Arts in Digital Photography

For professionals looking to enhance their skills and receive an undergraduate degree in the field of photography, check out Southern New Hampshire University’s BA in Digital Photography degree. If you need additional training in handling your digital camera, as well as learning about lighting and editing, this is the degree for you.

In addition to the foundational principles, you will learn how to build your brand, build a portfolio, all about marketing, how to excel in social media and business applications, and much more. Southern New Hampshire University’s courses will prepare you for careers in commercial, portrait, aerial, news, science, or events photography, to name a few. 

Programs offered:

  • AA and BA in Digital Photography
  • BA in Graphic Design & Media Arts
  • BA Game Art & Development

If you aspire to excel in a photography career that will require a bachelor’s degree, check out Southern New Hampshire University’s online Bachelor’s of Arts in Digital Photography fine art program.

Arizona State University 


Online BFA in Digital Photography Degree Programs

Are you ready to tap into your artistic ability? If you need to earn a bachelor’s degree in digital photography for your job, you’re in luck. ASU’s BFA degree program will allow you to express your creativity. Its primary goal is to focus on developing visual literacy and creative sensibilities, which will help you in any career you choose.

Although the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Digital Online Photography degree can be accomplished online, you will have plenty of feedback from fellow students as you work remotely sharing your images. You will learn how to express your creativity through photography and how to use your digital camera to its fullest.

They offer other art-related undergraduate programs you may be interested in as well.

Programs offered: 

  • Online BFA in Art (Digital Photography)
  • BS in Graphic Design
  • BA in Museum Studies
  • BA in Digital Culture

Check out Arizona State University’s online degree in Digital Photography fine art program to learn more.

Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design 


Online BFA Degree in Photography 

The Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design, one of the best photography schools, offers an opportunity for you to earn a Bachelor’s degree in the field of Photography through a distance-learning format. They encourage uniqueness, creativity, innovation, resourcefulness, as well as independence, and ingenuity.

If you are interested in sharpening your professional skills in photography, earning your Bachelor’s degree is a wise decision. Program highlights include digital imaging, lighting, photojournalism, cinematography, drawing, and commercial photography.

Programs offered: 

  • Online Bachelor’s Degree in Photography
  • BFA in Graphic Design
  • BFA in Animation
  • BFA in Game Art
  • BFA in Fine Arts

Are you ready to pursue a career as a professional Photographer? Take a look at Rocky Mountain College of Arts & Design’s online Bachelor’s degree in Photography program today! 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I consider a career in Photography?

Are you ready to see EVERYTHING through the lens of your camera? Because that’s what most photographers do! Being the creative type, every part of life, the good and the bad, is a photo opportunity. 

A photography career gives you the chance to share your creativity, teach others, participate in community events, and make a living. 

What does a Photography career consist of? 

Professional photographers take pictures that capture images, while the main goal is to tell a story. In this field, you can use a wide variety of techniques to bring your photos to life.

In addition, you will use lighting options to enhance your photos, be responsible for advertising your services, and provide a portfolio of your work to potential clients. And, of course, with all self-employment, a certain amount of clerical/accounting skills will be required. 

What types of professional Photography should I consider?

Do you enjoy photography? But don’t know which branch to pursue? You are not alone. As a photography career provides many opportunities, you may want to begin with what you are sincerely passionate about. 

Here are a few suggestions of the types of photography that most photographers consider to get you started: 

  • Portrait Photographer
  • Landscaping Photography
  • Still Life Photographer
  • Editorial & Photojournalist
  • Fashion Photographer
  • Fine Art Photography
  • Sports Photography
  • Architectural Photography
  • Wedding Photographer
  • Wildlife Photography
  • Commercial Photographer

And, what’s the best part? You can easily begin your own photography business and photograph anything you want!

What kind of salary can professional Photographers earn?

Your salary will be dependent upon many factors, such as your experience, education, employer, number of hours worked, type of photography you specialize in, and the area of the country in which you work. 

However, the Bureau of Labor Statoistics reports the average salary for a photographer as $40,170 per year, or $19.31 per hour, as of May 2022. The upper 10% earned $39.64 per hour. 

Self-employed photographers can increase their income exponentially, of course. Freelance photographers can make upwards of $106,500 or more annually if they own their own photography business.

Where can I get a job as a professional Photographer?

The answer to this question depends primarily on your specialization. Professional photographers are hired by companies that sell products, services, or food items. They can also find jobs with real-estate agencies, digital media companies, travel resorts, and many more. 

Your most significant possibility with the widest variety of opportunities and perhaps the most fantastic pay is being self-employed, so you can choose the jobs that best fit your personality and creativity. 

Is an Arts degree helpful in the field of Photography?

Yes, an Arts degree can be helpful in the field of Photography in several ways:

  • Develops creativity and critical thinking skills: An Arts degree, particularly in Fine Arts or Visual Arts, focuses on developing creativity and the ability to think critically about artistic concepts and ideas. These skills are essential for a photographer to come up with unique and visually appealing images.
  • Provides a foundation in art history and theory: As well as technical skills, a photographer needs an understanding of art history, theory, and aesthetics. An Arts degree can provide a comprehensive education in these areas, helping a photographer to develop a deeper understanding of their craft and the broader context of photography.
  • Offers technical training: Many Arts programs offer courses in photography, covering technical skills such as using cameras and lighting, editing images, and post-production techniques. These skills are crucial for a photographer to excel in their craft.
  • Exposure to different types of art: An Arts degree offers exposure to various art forms such as painting, sculpture, and multimedia. This exposure can broaden a photographer’s perspective and inspire them to experiment with different techniques and styles in their photography.
  • Networking opportunities: Studying for an Arts degree can provide opportunities for a photographer to network and collaborate with other artists and professionals in related fields. These connections can open up new avenues for creative expression and professional opportunities.

Overall, while a degree is not necessarily a requirement for a successful photography career, an Arts degree can provide valuable knowledge, skills, and opportunities for a photographer to develop and excel in their craft.

Key Points to Ponder

  • Would you like to own your own photography business? Learn how with one of the above professional photography programs. Self-employed photographers can make their own work schedule!
  • Becoming a professional photographer allows you to express your creativity.
  • Professional photographers have a wealth of opportunities in the field. They can become a wedding photographer, a portrait photographer, or a hobbyist photographer, just to name a few options.
  • Other focus areas in professional photography include commercial photography, fine art photography, landscape photography, advanced photojournalism, product photography, fashion photography, and more.
  • To become a certified professional photographer, students can find photography courses at several levels, such as photography certificate programs, as well as associate’s degree, bachelor’s, and even master’s degree levels.
  • A professional photography certificate or degree program will help you create your own photography portfolio as you gain valuable professional photography experience. Photography students will learn to use photo editing software, how to use digital cameras, all about artistic theories, and about taking photos, the equipment you need, and so much more.
  • A photography career can provide many interesting, fun, and creative ways to earn a living all while capturing the essence of your subjects by highlighting their emotions, expressions, and their sense of style and passion. Becoming a professional photographer takes experience!

Do you want a career where you can use your Photography skills? See:

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Malcolm Peralty
Chief Editor