What can you do with your photography degree?

Discover employment and further study opportunities that you could consider once you graduate with a photography degree, and learn how you can stand out to graduate employers.

We encourage you to:

  • undertake career planning and research
  • build your networks, meet employers and graduates
  • gain essential work experience during your course
  • attend career fairs and events
  • continually develop your skills and knowledge
  • get involved with relevant clubs and societies
  • visit the Careers Service for advice.

Knowledge and skills

A photography degree gives you the perfect opportunity to develop and refine your technical skills and methods (traditional darkroom processes, lighting, advanced digital editing etc) which are essential to work as a professional photographer, but you will also develop a broad range of transferable skills which are desired by a wide range of employers. These include:

  • the ability to develop individual ideas and collaborate with others
  • strong observational, research and analytical skills
  • creative problem-solving skills
  • the ability to learn from criticism and be objective about your work
  • an openness to new influences and concepts
  • entrepreneurial skills in marketing your work and running your own business/ being self-employed.

Career options

Studying photography at University of Plymouth will open a wide range of career choices. You could look at channelling your artist talents by pursuing a career as a professional photographer. There are a variety of opportunities including those that specialise in taking photographs of specific subjects (sports, music and performance, fashion) or those that specialise in using different techniques.

Opportunities include aerial or drone photography, fine art photography, portrait photography, current affairs/news photography, commercial/ advertising photography, corporate photography or working as a scientific/ medical photographer.

Whether you choose to be a self-employed freelancer or in-house photographer you can work in a variety of industries including fashion, fine art, advertising, education, science, graphic design, film or digital/ web design. Typical employers include magazines, newspapers, journals, retail websites, catalogues and large companies. To find out more about going freelance or running your own business check out our self-employment and freelancing page.

Due to the variety of transferable skills you gain from studying photography you could also enter into the creative industries as retouchers, picture researchers, art and photo editors, art directors, graphic designers, art buyers, researchers or museum/ gallery curators.

You could also use your creative skills to inspire others and work as a teacher (primary, secondary, further education) or higher education lecturer. Teaching opportunities are also available outside of a traditional classroom setting and you could consider using your artist flair to engage with people as a Community Arts Worker.

When considering your options, remember that your physical and digital portfolio are essential to presenting your work to potential employers and evidencing your skills.

Many photography graduates take the skills they have learnt elsewhere and find their way into less directly related graduate professions including marketing, the civil service and the charitable sector. 


Researching your career options 

With such a wide range of careers open to you as a photography graduate, it is important to make sure you explore and research your options thoroughly so that you can make informed decisions about your future. 

Take a look at the Prospects, TargetJobs and the design association websites for inspiration: 

Prospects – What can I do with my photography degree


Employment opportunities

Below is a snapshot of what some of University of Plymouth photography graduates told us they were doing six months after graduation. For some graduates, these jobs serve as ‘stepping stones’ to other roles by providing relevant workplace experience.

  • Image Editor / Photographer
  • Freelance Photographer
  • Editorial assistant and staff photographer
  • Website Photographer
  • Photographer
  • P&O Ship Photographer
  • Design and Reprographics Technician
  • Photo editor and photographer
  • Production management in a printing company
  • Trainee Photosketcher and Creative Support
  • Marketing trainee
  • Self-employed photography teacher
  • Freelance editorial documentary photographer


Employers

Further study

Some of the careers chosen by photography graduates will require or benefit from further study, so this should be considered carefully. The University of Plymouth offers the following postgraduate study options related to photography: 

You should consider the financial implications of further study as well as selecting a programme that suits your interests, learning style and future career direction. The following websites are a good starting point for exploring postgraduate options, but you may also benefit from talking to a Careers Consultant about your particular situation. 

Some useful websites to help you find a suitable postgraduate programme:

Find a Masters

Find a PhD

Prospects

Careers Service support

Accessing support from the Careers Service couldn’t be easier, come along to the Careers Service Helpdesk in the Student Hub or access our 24/7 online resources.

There is a wide range of support available from skills workshops to events, placements and internships advice, 1-2-1 appointments and help getting started with LinkedIn.

Our bite-sized Skills Workshops can give your career the boost it needs. Choose from a range of topics:

  • effective career planning
  • job hunting techniques
  • finding part-time work
  • CVs and interviews
  • mastering LinkedIn
  • and more.

Workshops are delivered by the Careers Service, however they are also an opportunity to learn from your peers, share experiences and ask questions. Visit myCareer to see the full range of activities and to book your place.

Connect with graduates  

Build your network and job sector knowledge using LinkedIn’s alumni tool. This will allow you to see the career journeys of graduates from your programme, the qualifications they completed, the skills they developed and employers they worked for. You can then ‘connect’ with people of interest:

  • search LinkedIn for ‘University of Plymouth’
  • select ‘Alumni’
  • filter the results by subject, sector, company or location.

For more information about the alumni tool select the LinkedIn alumni tool guide. If you are looking for help to set up or learn how to make the most out of your LinkedIn profile, select the LinkedIn guide for students or come to one of our workshops.

Other advice and guidance

Gain work experience

Undertaking work experience in your first and second years will help you stand out from the crowd when the time comes for you to complete applications for graduate employment and further study. Work experience develops valuable skills and qualities that employers are looking for and is essential for many roles. It can also help you to confirm or rule out particular career choices. Furthermore, experience in the workplace can bring you into contact with people who may be able to assist you at the beginning of your career.

You have plenty of options open to you. You could apply for a placement, work part-time around your studies, undertake volunteering or approach organisations directly to negotiate short periods of work experience. Some organisations offer paid internships over the summer or of one year’s duration. You could also improve your skills and experience by undertaking some freelance work, entering competitions, forming a collective or applying for commissions.

The University of Plymouth Students’ Union also offers a wide range of volunteering opportunities.


Clubs and societies   

Engaging in a sport or society shows employers you are engaged and seek out opportunities, it also helps you improve your teamwork, communication and negotiation skills. Committee members develop leadership, diplomacy and organisational skills and will gain experience of meetings, handling funds, and society promotion.

You may choose to join a society that is specifically linked to photography or take the opportunity to explore the huge range of clubs, societies and sports, all of which can help you to broaden your horizons and explore new interests.


Tutor and academic support

Your tutor and other academic staff are an excellent source of support for your career development. They will have experience and contacts across industry and academia, so do approach them for advice and insights into careers you are considering. Your tutor will ultimately be writing references for your employment or further study applications, therefore establishing a positive relationship with this person is invaluable.