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.
Photographers take photographs of people, places, products or events.
Their tasks may include:
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.
|Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography||Diploma in Photography|
|$19,500 over three years||$6,600 over one year|
Average costs in 2018 for a domestic student. Costs vary between institutions. First time students may be eligible for fees-free tertiary education for their first year of study, which will reduce the total cost. For more information about fees-free eligibility, go to feesfree.govt.nz. Further costs include materials, textbooks, 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.
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.
Photography courses are available at a range of tertiary institutions throughout New Zealand. Evening classes are also run at some community education centres.
The number of students completing photography qualifications has remained at around 340 - 350, with the level 5, 6 and 7 certificates and diplomas becoming more popular. 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
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 2018, the average income for photographers is estimated to be around $43,000.
|Estimated Average Income|
Source: MBIE estimates based on Statistics NZ Census and Labour Cost Index.
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.
Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections
|Overseas||In further study||Receiving a benefit||In employment||Median Salary|
Source: Tertiary Education Commission
*Three years after completion of L5 or 6 Diploma - Visual Arts & Crafts.
Most graduates were in employment three years after completing a Level 5 or 6 Diploma in Visual Arts and Crafts. Some were in further study, while quite few were overseas. The median salary was around $36,000 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
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.
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.
The following occupations are related roles or alternative titles. Some of the roles may require a higher level of skill than entry level photographers.
More information on photographers is available on the Careers New Zealand website.
Careers New Zealand: www.careers.govt.nz
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