Ministry of Business and Innovation - Occupation Outlook

Occupation Outlook | Main MBIE Site

Photographers

5
Income
6
Fees
5
Job Prospects

Job Prospects... At a glance

Chances of getting a job as a photographer are average due to a stable number of people graduating with photography qualifications each year competing for a stable number of jobs.

Photographers tend to be self-employed, so income depends on how successful the photographer’s business is, and how many hours they work.

Increasing numbers of photographers work part-time while also working at another job, at least at the start of their career.

How to become a photographer

What they do

Photographers take photographs of people, places, products or events.

Qualifications needed

Photographers do not need qualifications to succeed, although they can be useful as a stepping stone into the industry.

Many tertiary institutions offer qualifications that can provide you with photography skills – for example, certificates or diplomas in photography, or degrees in graphic design specialising in photography. Note that gaining a qualification in photography will not guarantee you a job in the occupation.

Business skills are also seen as being key to successful self-employment as a photographer.

Cost of study

Bachelor of Fine Arts in PhotographyDiploma in Photography
$21,800 over three years $7,000 over one year

Average costs in 2016 for a domestic student. Costs vary between institutions. Some polytechnics may have a zero-fees scheme. Further costs include materials, textbooks, camera and accommodation.

Rents vary from place to place. Estimated market rents by region, city and suburb are available on the MBIE Tenancy Services website.

The StudyLink website provides general budget advice for students, and the Sorted website provides help with detailed budget planning.

Tenancy Services: www.tenancy.govt.nz 
StudyLink: www.studylink.govt.nz 
Sorted: www.sorted.org.nz/calculators/money-planner

Professional membership

One way to improve your chances of being employed as a photographer is to join a professional body such as the New Zealand Institute of Professional Photography (NZIPP).

To apply for qualified professional status at NZIPP, you must submit a body of work for assessment. The NZIPP website provides more details. 

NZIPP: www.nzipp.org.nz/nzippweb/Default.aspx?tabid=61

Where to study

Photography courses are available at a range of tertiary institutions throughout New Zealand. Evening classes are also run at some community education centres.

Completed qualifications

The number of students completing photography qualifications fell from 330 in 2012 to 240 in 2014 (down 27%). The number of graduates has continually outstripped the number of new jobs in this occupation, meaning that many graduate photographers find work in other areas or travel overseas to find work.

Qualification completions chart

Source: Ministry of Education

Income and employment prospects

Income

Photographers are often self-employed, and work on a pay per-photograph or per-day basis. Their incomes depend on the success of their businesses as well as how many hours they work.

In 2016, the average income for photographers is estimated to be around $40,500.

Estimated Average Income
$40,500

Source: MBIE estimates based on Statistics NZ Census and Labour Cost Index.

Employment and skill shortages

Photographers’ employment

HistoricProjected Growth
2006 2013 2020 2025
2,520 2,394 3,371 3,795
  -0.7% 5.0% 2.4%

Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections. Percentages are compound annual growth rates.
*Growth projections are for the broader category “Arts Professionals”.

The number of people employed in photography declined slightly over recent years. Because the supply of graduates is larger than demand, some graduates struggle to find relevant work. Employment is expected to grow in the broader arts professionals category, but it is not certain that this will extend to photographers.

Employment chart

Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections

Outcomes after qualification completion*

OverseasIn further studyReceiving a benefitIn employmentMedian Salary
8% 48% 4% 43% $28,900

Source: Ministry of Education
*Two years after completion of L5 or 6 Diploma - Visual Arts & Crafts. ‘Overseas’ are the percentage of all graduates completing this qualification. Other indicators are of graduates in New Zealand.

Most graduates were in further study two years after completing a Level 5 or 6 Diploma in Visual Arts and Crafts. Compared to most other degrees, few were in employment. Some were overseas, while quite few were receiving a benefit. The median salary was around $28,900 at that point.

In a change from last year’s Occupational Outlook, medical photographers are no longer on Immigration New Zealand’s Skill Shortage Lists.

Immigration NZ, skill shortage list: skillshortages.immigration.govt.nz

Where to find job vacancies

The number of online job vacancies for photographers rose from 2008 to 2011, before it declined slightly. In the last year, the number of job advertisements has increased quickly.

Jobs advertised chart

Source: Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment

Photographer vacancies are advertised through public media such as the Trade Me Jobs and Seek websites, as well as The Big Idea website, which specialises in jobs in the creative industries.

However, many photography jobs are not advertised and are filled through a photographer’s contacts.

Trade Me Jobs: www.trademe.co.nz/jobs 
Seek: www.seek.co.nz 
The Big Idea: www.thebigidea.co.nz/work/jobs-opportunities

Career path

One way to start as a photographer is to work as a photographer’s assistant (usually at minimum or close to minimum wage).

Photographers may start their own photography business. They often specialise in a specific type of photography, such as weddings, portraits, or commercial.

People with experience in photography can move into many other occupations, such as a graphics designer, digital film technician, photojournalist, fine art photographer, photo retoucher, event photographer, videographer or gallery curator.

Related occupations

The following occupations are related roles or alternative titles. Some of the roles may require a higher level of skill than entry level photographers.

  • Fashion Photographer
  • Graphic Designer
  • Journalist
  • Medical Photographer
  • Photographic Developer
  • Photographic Printer
  • Photojournalist
  • Technical Photographer

Other information

Links

More information on photographers is available on the Careers New Zealand website.

Careers New Zealand: www.careers.govt.nz

ANZSCO

The Australian New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) is the official classification of occupations in New Zealand.

The occupation of photographers has been coded to the following ANZSCO codes for the purpose of this report:

2113 – Photographers
7114 – Photographic Developers and Printers