Photographer and Photojournalist Rank at the Bottom of Best and Worst Jobs List


Back in 2010, we shared some statistics from CareerCast’s annual list of the best and worst jobs, and things weren’t looking good for the photography profession. At the time, “Photographer” ranked 126th of 200 on that list, with “Photojournalist” coming in near the very bottom at 189th. Sadly, in the intervening years since we last shared the info, things haven’t exactly gotten better.

The good news is, you’re probably not a lumberjack or newspaper reporter. Those guys rounded out the list at 199th and 200th, respectively. The bad news is that Photographer has managed to drop more than 15 spots per year since 2010. At this point, the profession ranks 172nd, right below Air Traffic Controller and Construction Worker.


Photojournalists, on the other hand, have something to celebrate … though not much. They’ve actually jumped one spot up to 188th, right below Dishwasher and above Corrections Officer. We just hope none of those photojournalists are also newspaper reporters.

The methodology for how they got the numbers is almost identical to 2010. The factors considered this year were: environment, income, outlook and stress. For the first time since they started making the list, physical demands was lumped in with environment.


Since the methodology is the same, our feelings about the accuracy of the rankings are also the same. Factors such as “job satisfaction” aren’t considered, and many photographers and photojournalists who may be stressed out and/or poor are at least happy doing what they do. We don’t know about you, but we haven’t met a lot of garbage collectors (rank: 160) who are as passionate about their jobs as the photographers we talk to.

One of the commenters in 2010 also pointed out that “desirability” wasn’t considered. Photographers often hear how much people want their job, how often does a bank teller? And yet bank teller ranked 10 spots higher. But enough from us, what do you think? Have the last three years and the huge drop in ranking changed your outlook at all?

(via A Photo Editor)

Image credit: Photo illustration based on I see life through the barrel of my 50mm lens. by Ricky Flores

  • Tyler Magee

    thats a few reasons not to go into photo journalism.

  • Swade

    Two things:

    1) You guys need your links to open up in another tab…

    2) I’ve never met a university professor that mad $64,000. Almost all of the ones I’ve had are pretty strapped for cash. Historian making upwards of $60,000? These must be the most ideal of salaries.

  • Sky

    “and many photographers and photojournalists who may be stressed out and/or poor are at least happy doing what they do.” – that’s a wild assumption. Believe me or not – I know many photojournalists that ain’t particularly happy about most of the time spent in work. They do understand the meaning behind this work, and so on, but most of the time – it’s hardly an enjoyable way to earn your money. It’s a hard work in rather stressful conditions for relatively low money.

    “We don’t know about you, but we haven’t met a lot of garbage collectors (rank: 160) who are as passionate about their jobs as the photographers we talk to.” – you made a comparison of enjoyment from work of garbage collectors against photographers? Wow… I’m full of respect for you. I know only one garbage collector and he loves his job – work is short, money is excellent (even: outstanding), he got loads more time for his family than I do, and overall: I would argue that he is one of the happiest man I know.

  • Brandon Timothy Chin

    University professors probably do make that much, maybe even more. But the thing is, they had to get a lot of expensive loans as a student, to become a professor. So a lot of their income is spent paying back their student loans.

  • gochugogi

    Well, let just say professors tend to be exceedingly frugal and appear poorer than they actually are. Something about the profession attracts tightwads and, thus, perpetuates the stereotype. Unless you’re working at a community college on an Indian reservation, 6 figure incomes are common once tenured and promoted.

  • Brandon Timothy Chin

    If you ctrl-click (Windows) or command-click (Mac) on a link on any website, it will open in a new tab. Ctrl-shift-click (Windows) or command-shift-click (Mac) will open the link in a new tab and take you to the new tab automatically. Right clicking/secondary clicking on a link will also give you an option to open the link in a new tab.

  • Kaveh Moravej

    I’d take all of these lists with a grain of salt. The only thing that matters is whether you enjoy whatever it is that you’re doing and whether it provides you with the means to sustain the lifestyle that you want.

  • Mehmet Kıvanç Özel

    1) use the middle mouse button

  • Chris Malmberg

    If you have a job you love, then what good is this list?

  • Ck


    Instagram, digital camera revolution, lot more folks picking up photography as a hobby…what was once only reachable to pros in terms o equipment etc is now available to much more folks …lots of freelancers diluting the market…supply demand…

    500px is a good example what enthusiasts are able to produce that was only pro work years back.

    The art of photography is still alive but artists are usually poor and happy…

  • Sky

    500px is probably a poor example – most of people posting there are either Pros or semi-Pros. But in general – I completely agree. :)

  • Phil Hearing

    here is a shocking message! life isnt all about money or postion

  • Jonathan Ross

    Those numbers are kinda wonky, they have photojournalists making twice as much as trained professional commercial photographers that is completely backwards at least in our market in the U.S. west coast if not even more so, photojournalists make far less than professional photographers. I think they may be adding everyone that makes money at photography these days even if it is not full time employment, with the exception of Paparazzi’s and I don’t really consider them photojournalists. I know that good assistants make more than they quoted for professional photographers, 29K that seems pretty low? I want to know what are the great jobs out there that are the top 172

  • snapper

    I’m a photojournalist and get extremely stressed. The idea of the job is great, but when you work for an unethical and relentless team while short staffed, dish washing begins to sound rather attractive…

  • Your Old Dog

    Retired after a 30 year career I can tell you these numbers are way out of whack! Most days it was nice being in the middle of the action of the day. As I was old guard I made good pay for what I did. When I got into the field it was akin to being a cop or fireman. When I told people what I did there wasn’t a one who didn’s say, “wow, sounds like an exiciting job” I told one kid just to get him off my back “it ain’ all that great” and he responded with “it sure beats washing dishes in a restaurant like I do” I felt embarrassed.

  • Nora

    Why do they have to be so poor.

  • Voltaire Domingo

    photojournalism is a calling. it’s not for everyone.

  • Timmmeeeee

    There was a time not everyone had the talent for photography and neither were there cheap dslrs or compact digicams due to which the limited number of skilled photographers made lots of money. But today there are probably more cameras than humans in the world and with more supply than demand the job of a photographer of photojournalist went to the bottom of the list