Education and Training Requirements

High School

Because photojournalists report on everything from wars to political campaigns to small-town parades, your education should be well-rounded. Take classes in English, foreign language, history, and the sciences to prepare yourself for the job. Of course, take as many photography classes as possible. If few or no photo classes are available at your high school, consider signing up for classes at your local community college or art center. These classes might put you in touch with other artists in your area and will allow you access to darkroom and computer imaging equipment.

Postsecondary Training

A four-year degree is recommended to become a photojournalist, although an associate's degree with the right experience is sometimes sufficient. Although some colleges and universities offer photojournalism majors, many aspiring photojournalists major in either journalism or photography and seek out classes and experience in the other field.

Many journalism programs require their students to complete internships with newspapers or other local employers. This is essential to building your experience and getting a good job in this competitive field. Many photojournalists are offered their first jobs directly from their internship experience.

Working on the college newspaper and building a portfolio of your work are also important in addition to your classes in art, computers, and liberal arts. Another wise idea is to join a photojournalists' organization, such as the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA), for job contacts and professional development. The NPPA offers student memberships to those currently studying photography or journalism.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

There are no certification or licensing requirements for photojournalists.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Experience as an intern, volunteer, or part-time employee at a newspaper, news magazine, or a related employer is recommended for aspiring photojournalists. 

People skills are essential to photojournalists as well as an eye for art and photography and a working knowledge of camera equipment and computers. It is also important to be able to work flexible hours, write well, and perform research.

Because of the timely nature of many assignments, photojournalists must also be able to work under the pressures of a deadline. They may be assigned to shoot pictures of people in trying situations, such as house fires, car wrecks, or military combat. In these cases, the photojournalist must be extremely sensitive to the people at the center of the story, ask permission to take photos, and when possible, ask for details about what happened. To do this, photojournalists must be extremely tactful and polite and work well under stress.

Photojournalists must also know how to use Photoshop and other photo-editing software and have a good familiarity with social media trends.