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Do you want to work as a wildlife photographer?

  • Read about the most important info you need to decide on following this career.
  • ​Follow the 7 points below and search for a tertiary institution near you for future studies. If you already are graduated, you may also search through our list of Jobs in the main menu.
  • If you want to PLAN the way you need to prepare, then join our community in step 8 where you will learn everything, while chatting with other potential photographer and experts from around the world. Prepare to be amazed!

CAREER MENTOR

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UPDATED: 26 August 2020

1. What is a Wildlife Photographer?

A Wildlife Photographer is a professional who takes photos of wildlife, mostly in their natural habitat, for publication or research.

Lightning fast?

One of the fastest shutter speeds on a camera lens is recorded at 1/32000 per second

Zooming in?

The largest camera lens can focus on objects 32 miles (51.5 km) away

2. What do they do?

Category:

Media / Art & Design / Business / Education / Marine Conservation / Wildlife Conservation

Focus:

The primary focus of wildlife photographers is to capture images so that they can be used for study by scientists and educators, or published and enjoyed in media, ranging from online publications to books.

Daily Tasks:

  • Discuss brief with clients
  • Plan and research subject, travel and species
  • Capture photos of animal subjects
  • Plan the composition of photographs
  • Use professional photography equipment, lighting, and techniques
  • Enhance images with photo-editing software
  • Archive and manage a database of images
  • Presentation to clients of work done
  • Create and add new work to a portfolio
  • Administration and filing

Where they work:

Environment

Due to the nature of their work, wildlife photographers spend most of their day outdoors. Processing the photos and administrative tasks do require an office setup.

Places of Employment –

Most wildlife photography jobs are on a freelance basis, although some nature magazines and scientific publications hire full- or -part-time staff.

Average Salary:

As most photographers are self employed, their income is based on obtaining contracts. On average the income per year is around $42,000. This will differ from country to country.

Difficulties:

The most difficult part is the terrain, which can be extremely dangerous. In some cases the species photographed may be dangerous as well. Wildlife photographers may work long hours and over weekends and holidays to finish work within tight deadlines. They may also be required to travel often.

​Future growth and Possibilities:

The industry is extremely competitive, and the future growth of available jobs might actually start to shrink. Possibilities of a niche market for new photographers might be 3D photos for educational use, or panorama composites to be printed and displayed as murals in places such as zoos, aquariums etc.

3. Which Skills are required?

The skills required for a career as a wildlife photographer can be divided into two very important groups. The first is the group containing life skills, which are the core skills that are necessary or desirable for full participation in everyday life. The second group is career skills, or the specific skills required to allow a person to enter and operate effectively within a specific career. Some or maybe even all of the life skills can assist in strengthening the career skills, and they might even be the same for specific careers.

Life Skills:

  • Self-awareness
  • Empathy
  • Critical thinking
  • Creative thinking
  • Decision making
  • Problem Solving
  • Effective communication
  • Interpersonal relationship

Career Skills:

  • ​Good business knowledge
  • Good artistic skills
  • Basic customer service skills
  • Good health and physical fitness
  • Excellent computer literacy (drawing software)
Life Skills
40%
Career Skills
60%

4. Which Subjects must I have at School?

The subjects you choose at school are important as they lay the foundation for further studies at college or university. While still at school, it’s also important to learn more about the animals you will work with, as well as gain some experience.

OZT has a list of various tertiary institutions where you can study further, after school. Each of these institutions also have their own Group page on OZT where you will find the exact subjects they require of you to have passed in school. Keep these requirements in mind, and discuss it with your school, guidance counselor and parents to ensure that you are prepared!

5. What will I need to Study?

Minimum Requirements:

To become a Wildlife Photographer doesn’t require formal training, but many do go on to study a College Diploma or even a Bachelor’s Degree.

Focus:

Major –

If you do want to study further, a major in photography or photojournalism will be great.

Short Courses –

Courses in handling a camera, as well as photo editing is a must!

Duration:

The duration of College and Bachelor’s Degrees can be up to 3 or 4 years. Short Courses are usually between a few weeks and a year.

Possible Career Preparation Paths:

If this is your dream career that you want to pursue, then it’s important to plan the way forward.

Why is planning important?

​To ensure that you understand the requirements for your career, and that you are always prepared for the next step on the road towards your dream. A Preparation Path is like your road map to where you want to be.

Possible Paths:

Possible Combined Career Paths:

It is possible to sometimes combine two or more related careers. This normally happens when you study and practice a specific main career, but the knowledge and experience gained also help you to have a paying hobby or secondary income career.

Possible Alternatives (there are a lot more):

Stepping Stone Career:

Being a wildlife photographer can also be used as a stepping stone career. A stepping stone career is one which is used to help you get to another career, normally because the other career is too difficult to reach (sometimes due to things like high fees etc).

You can begin as an intern  after basic short courses and expert guidance (maybe working under a mentor). The money made can then be used to pay for studies towards a promotion or another career, and the experience helps in gaining knowledge. One paying to help get to the other.

Some of the possible paths:

Training and apprenticeship:

Even though it is important to study to get into some of the animal careers, most of the skills you will need as a photographer will be acquired through practice. This means that you will learn how to perform some of the daily tasks by actually doing it a few times and learning the steps.

In some cases entry level positions require training sessions even before you are allowed to actually perform your job duties. These sessions are offered by the place of employment, after you have successfully applied.

Apprenticeship is also possible where you need to learn skills from a more senior photographers.

Join the Wildlife Photographers Group in STEP 8 to learn more and even interact with the educational institutions that will help you secure your dream career!

Average entry level of education across the career:

High School Certificate 0%
Diploma or Short Courses 0%
Degree or Higher Studies 0%

6. Licenses, Certificate, Registration and Professional Associations

Certain animal careers require some form of legal certification to prove that you can indeed do the work, and work with the necessary equipment.

Although not required by law, certifications may help workers establish their credentials and enhance their skills.

Learn more about requirements by joining OZT in STEP 8.

Professional Associations:

7. Where can I study further?

All of the above information will help you understand more about the Career, including the fact that there are different paths to take to reach it. But if you are almost done with High School (Grades 11 or 12), you also need to start thinking about further studies, and WHERE you will study.

See the List of Universities, Colleges and Online Training Academies who offer courses towards photography.

8. Join the OZT community

Join us as a special member and learn more about becoming a wildlife photographer.

Members of the Platform have special access to:

  • Info on the best places where you can study (colleges, universities and online)
  • Expertly designed advice to prepare you for the career, and links to places where you can gain valuable experience. For some career experience is necessary, otherwise you wont get the job!
  • Top notch info on each of the different species you will work with
  • Make friends around the world and share knowledge
  • Compete and win points, badges, games, prizes and certificates. Be the best of the best, while you learn and prepare!

If you have decided on being a Wildlife Photographer, please click on the JOIN GROUP button. If this career is NOT the career for you, then you may return to the MAIN CAREER menu, and search for something different.

Other interesting Careers

Career Profiles and Resources

Career Mentors are Members who assist by volunteering to keep each Career Page factual and current, while mentoring Students in the related Career Group.

Learn More …

Contributions by expert members are always appreciated to allow the Students to make informed decisions. Please add your contribution through the attached Form:

Contribution Form

List of Career Mentors/Educators who have contributed to this Career info:

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One Zoo Tree

A few pictures about the Career:

Some of the best websites to help you decide on the Career:

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