Certificates in Photography

You don’t need a degree to get your feet wet in photography, but you do need a certain level of training and preparation if you expect to begin an entry-level photography career. A certificate program in photography can take anywhere from six months to a year and provides students with focused instruction on a specific area of photography, rather than a formal fine arts education in photography, as you would receive with a bachelor’s degree. Many people find a certificate in photography useful if they are recreational photographers, if they are professionals who want to take a refresher course in a certain area (such as learning new photo editing skills), or if they want to prepare themselves at the base level for an assistant photography position.

A photography certificate might teach you certain photography basics, like principles of digital and film photography; how to use camera equipment; learning about shutter speed, aperture and f-stops; working with limited light; and photo editing. Others might focus on the creative or business sides of photography.

These certificates are most often offered through technical schools, career schools and community colleges. For example, Penn Foster Career School offers a distance education certificate in photography basics, which offers instruction in lighting, technique and image design, among other areas. Certificates in photography are tailored for direct career preparation, rather than for a well-rounded education.

Before starting a certificate program in photography, make sure you have the proper equipment, which typically will mean a digital camera, a reliable computer and software that will allow you to edit the photos you capture.

While you may find the basic instruction of a photography certificate program useful, you may wish to transfer the credits you earn and apply them toward an associate degree in photography, which will make you more competitive in the job market and increase your credibility if you are a freelance or self-employed photographer. Certificate programs in photography are an excellent way of finding out if photography is truly the career you wish to pursue and an excellent way to push you toward building your first portfolio.