Wildlife Photographer

Shoot pictures of wild animals in their natural habitat.

Quick Stats

Salary Range
$17,000 – $63,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Wildlife Photographers do?

If you covet National Geographic for its animal portraits or sit spellbound while watching Animal Planet, working as a Wildlife Photographer could be the job for you. Two main attributes identify Wildlife Photographers, people who turn their lenses toward critters great and small: passion and knowledge about photography, and an undying love affair with the animal kingdom, especially for untamed and oftentimes unfriendly beasts.

Not only is this an awesome, highly prized job, it is a lifestyle as much as an art. Being a Wildlife Photographer is about capturing animals in their natural element, so be prepared to embrace the wild outdoors. Whether you are strapping on your boots for a visit to a nearby state park, or packing for physical protection on a safari, get ready to embrace Mother Nature in all her glory.

Dealing with environment, though, is the easy part of this job. The hard part is getting your subjects to show up. Sometimes you wait hours for a shot, or trek to remote locations to pick up some tracks. You endure danger, isolation, bitter cold, and brutal heat for that perfect shot that might never come. But when it does come, that split second of lasting glory is worth the sunburned nose and mosquito hat net you had to wear for the last week; as you snap the whooping crane feeding her young in a tangled haze of Spanish moss, oh it is all so worth it.

Many Wildlife Photographers enter the field with just their cameras, though “just” in this case means good-quality, sturdy and reliable camera set-ups. This set-up should include a durable tripod and monopod, waterproof camera case(s), and the best digital camera and zoom lenses you can afford.

Should I be a Wildlife Photographer?

You should have a high school degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Detail Oriented: You pay close attention to all the little details.
  • Levelheaded: You hold your emotions in check, even in tough situations.
  • Flexible: You're open to change and think variety is the spice of life.

  • How to become a Wildlife Photographer

    Most Wildlife Photographers have no higher education and get on-the-job training. Think about earning a Certificate or Associate's degree to increase your competitiveness in the field. Chart?chd=s:9cddaa&chl=no+college+%2864%25%29|certificate+%2829%25%29|associate%27s+%284%25%29|bachelor%27s+%284%25%29||&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,64,64
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