Photography salaries can vary greatly, from a minimum hourly wage to over $100,00 per year.  This is one job category that there are likely more freelancers than salaried positions, and there are so many subcategories it can be confusing to the newcomer.  For every subject matter there is a niche to get into, so do not be discouraged if you cannot find information on your specific niche right away. 
    This is also a field in which your portfolio may mean more than your degree type to a prospective employer.  Though if you have natural talent, going through a degree program may open up new paths for you in terms of design software, techniques and internships that going it alone could not provide.  A program of some sort will also go over basic buisness design should you decide to go the freelance route. 
    There are a number of salaried positions available, For being a photography director of a studio or project, you can expect to make an average of $63,000 U.S. dollars per year.  A fashion photographer can expect $37,000 per year starting out and $70,000 per year after 20 or more years in the business.  A medical photographer averages around $41,000 per year, and a scientific photographer can make $65,000 per year.  The range of still photographers is from $37,000 to $48,000, dependent on experience, and wildlife photographers can expect $35,000 per year.  Most of these salaries increase less with seniority compared to other artistic endeavors.  The pay range is also dependent on the type of institution at which you are employed.  Government and foundations typically pay more than freelance work and non-profits, but there are exceptions.
    Photographers often do not have salaries, but are paid by the hour.  This is common of studio and freelance photographers, as well as photographers for newspapers and periodicals. News and sports photographers make an average of $11.00-$24.00 per hour dependent on experience.  For those with the “Photojournalist” title, the average is $12.00-$20.00 per hour, also dependent on experience.  For someone who is a general freelancer, the rates range from $9.00 per hour to $15.00 per hour, after including overhead and other costs.  Some specialties for freelancers include weddings, school photos, and family portraits.   Cities like New York and Chicago can be much more lucrative for the freelancer.  One other option not listed is providing stock photos for international news agencies.  Contacting others in the field would be the best way to gauge this opportunity.  Most people in this industry use news agency openings as side jobs.  
    For a photographer more than most other jobs, your pay rate is dependent on the amount of talent you have and the area in which you live.  Consider this when choosing a photography program or a place to reside after school.  Big cities usually pay more, but they can also have influxes of other local photographers that may make business too competitive to succeed.  Find your niche in the industry first, and then decide where and how to pursue it.

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