Average wage for US photographers: $36,330, plus other data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Employment of photographers, by area, May 2012 - DOL BLS Occupational Employment Statistics
Employment of photographers, by area, May 2012 – DOL BLS Occupational Employment Statistics

We know that photojournalists have a worse job than dishwashers (and reporters are worse off than lumberjacks), but the methodology of CareerCast’s annual list of best and worst jobs always feels a little loosey-goosey to me. Having a job and making money might not be everything, but it’s worth looking at some real data.

The US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Employment Statistics program collects hard data on non-farm jobs semiannually. The result is picture of the American workforce unlike any other, collating average wages and employment numbers across the country in fine detail. Here is the most recent data (May 2012) for photographers in the US.

There are some interesting revelations in the data. First, the average American photographer makes an annual wage of $36,330 (median $28,490). There are 56,140 Americans employed, either part- or full-time, as photographers. However, there are only 3,860 photographers employed by Newspaper, Periodical, Book, and Directory Publishers, making an average wage of $41,150. You can also see maps that breakdown wages and employment by state and other geographical areas. The three highest paying metropolitan areas for photographers are San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Hartford, Conn. The three nonmetropolitan areas with highest employment of photographers are an area of Ohio called “Other Ohio nonmetropolitan area” (not where OU is), “Western Central North Carolina nonmetropolitan area,” and “Northeast Mississippi nonmetropolitan area.”

Importantly, these numbers do not include self-employed workers, so this data does not cover freelancers.

(via Jared Wickerham on facebook)

3 Responses to “Average wage for US photographers: $36,330, plus other data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics”

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    [...] average salary for a U.S. photographer is $36,330. The only upside is that this data does not include [...]

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