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Photography Schools in Virginia

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If you are interested in a photography career, the first step is to decide what type of photographer you would like to become. Would you like to work in the exciting world of fashion photography? How about photojournalism or something unique such as a food photographer? These are just a few focus areas, so once you have decided which one is right for you, you can begin searching for a suitable training program. Fortunately, The Old Dominion State is home to more colleges and universities than most other states, and many of these schools offer excellent programs for aspiring artists and designers—including photographers.

Just a few of Virginia’s best schools for artists and designers are Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Marymount University in Arlington, Bluefield College in Bluefield, and Old Dominion University in Norfolk. Continue reading to find out which Virginia schools are tops for aspiring photographers and where to find them.

Virginia Photography Schools

Virginia is home to 129 Title-IV degree-granting colleges and universities. This means, the state has the tenth highest number of Title IV schools in the U.S. Of the state’s 129 Title IVs, 38 are private not-for-profit, 52 are private for-profit, and 39 are public. Whether public or private, all Title IVs are eligible for federal financial aid programs, so even the most expensive private schools in the state are accessible to talented students with financial need.

The following is an extensive list of some of the top schools for aspiring photographers and some of the other programs that they offer. All are Title IV degree-granting schools.

Bridgewater
Bridgewater College – Degrees Offered: BA, BS Art, Studio Art with Specialization in Photography, Digital Media, Drawing, Visual Design; Minor in Art

Harrisonburg
Eastern Mennonite University – Degrees Offered: BA, Minor in Photography, BA Art, BA Digital Media, BA Digital Video Production, BA Digital Communication; Minor Art, Digital Communication, Digital Video Production

Lynchburg
Liberty University – Degrees Offered: Minor Photography; BS Studio Art, BS Studio and Digital Arts: Graphic Design, BS Communication with Cinematic Arts Concentration, BS Communication Studies with Digital Media Concentration, BS Visual Communication Arts with Studio Art Concentration, BS Web Technology and Design; MA Communication Studies with Media and Communication Studies Concentration; Minor Graphic Design, Studio Artn

Lynchburg College – Degrees Offered: BA Art with Studio Art (includes Painting, Drawing, Sculpture, Photography), BA Art with Emphasis in Graphic Design, BA Communications with Electronic Media Focus; Minor in Studio Art

Petersburg
Virginia State University – Degrees Offered: Minor in Photography; BFA Visual Arts with a Concentration in Animation, Graphic Design or Studio Arts; Minor Animation, Art Design, Graphic Design, Web Design

Radford
Radford University – Degrees Offered: BFA Studio Art with a Photography Emphasis, BFA Graphic Design; BA Design Culture Design Management; BS Information Science and Systems with a Web Development Emphasis; MA Design Thinking; Minor Cinematic Arts, Design Appreciation

Staunton
Mary Baldwin College – Degrees Offered: BA Studio Art with Emphasis in Photography, Drawing, Extended Media, Graphic Design, Printmaking; BA Art Management, BA Film Studies, BA Film Production; Minor Film Studies, Film Production

MoreVirginia Photographyrelated programs to consider:

Employment and Salary Trends for Virginia Photographers

Virginia is home to 1,120 salaried photographers averaging $32,500 per year, down from $41,020 in 2009, when the state was home to 1,220 photographers. It is important to note that many professionals in this field are self-employed, so it is safe to assume that the population of photographers in the state is much higher. These individuals typically earn more and enjoy greater employment growth as well. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the “Independent Artists, Writers, and Performers” ‘industry’ has the third highest concentration of employment for photographers and they earn an average of $47,180 per year.

Nationwide, the median pay for photographers is $30,490 per year. Employment for photographers is projected to grow three percent for the 2014-2024 decade, which is slower than the average for all occupations. At this rate, the industry is expected to add around 3,900 new jobs in the coming years. Overall growth will be limited because of the decreasing cost of digital cameras and the increasing number of amateur photographers and hobbyists, says the Bureau.

In addition, stock photographic services available online give individuals and businesses access to stock photographs for a fee or subscription, possibly dampening demand for photographers. Declines in the newspaper industry will reduce demand for news photographers to provide still images for print, says the Bureau. Employment of photographers in newspaper publishing is projected to decline a staggering 41 percent for the 2014-2024 decade, according to the BLS.

However, employment of self-employed photographers is projected to grow nine percent for the 2014-2024 decade. Projected growth, says the BLS, will be due to the demand for portrait photographers, which will persist as people continue to want new portraits. In addition, corporations will continue to require the services of commercial photographers to develop compelling advertisements to sell products.

The top paying states for photographers are:

  • District of Columbia ($66,410)
  • New York ($54,030)
  • California ($52,750)
  • Hawaii ($47,740)
  • New Mexico ($46,220)

The top paying industries for photographers are:

  • Aerospace Product and Parts Manufacturing ($76,090)
  • Medical and Diagnostic Laboratories ($69,230)
  • Motion Picture and Video Industries ($67,160)
  • Scientific Research and Development ($63,530)
  • Other Information Services ($61,090)

The industries with the highest levels of employment for photographers are:

  • Other Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services
  • Radio and Television Broadcasting
  • Newspaper, Periodical, Book, and Directory Publishers
  • Motion Picture and Video Industries
  • Other Personal Services

The Industries with the highest concentration of employment for photographers are:

  • Other Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services
  • Radio and Television Broadcasting
  • Independent Artists, Writers, and Performers
  • Newspaper, Periodical, Book, and Directory Publishers
  • Scenic and Sightseeing Transportation, Water

The states with the highest employment levels for photographers are California, New York, Florida, Texas, and Illinois.

While employment growth for photographers is projected to be slower than average overall, Virginia-based photographers can do a few things to increase their chances of finding employment. Consider checking into portrait studios, local publications, technology firms, schools, creative agencies, and design studios. And stick to major cities such as Virginia Beach—the state’s largest, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Arlington, and Richmond. Also worth exploring are Newport News, Alexandria, Hampton, Roanoke, and Portsmouth.

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