Photographers are one of the happiest careers in the United States.

At CareerExplorer, we conduct an ongoing survey with millions of people and ask them how satisfied they are with their careers. As it turns out, photographers rate their career happiness 3.9 out of 5 stars which puts them in the top 12% of careers.

To put this into perspective, we compared how happy photographers are to similar careers in the industry. Take a look at the results below:

Salaries and satisfaction ratings in similar careers

Career Satisfaction Avg Salary
Photojournalist
4.0
$36k
Photographer
3.9
$39k
Camera operator
3.6
$49k

So what does it mean to be happy in your career? Let’s break it down into different dimensions:

  • Salary: Are photographers happy with their salary?
  • Meaning: Do photographers find their jobs meaningful?
  • Personality fit: How well suited are people’s personalities to their everyday tasks as photographers?
  • Work environment: How enjoyable are photographer’s work environments?
  • Skills utilization: Are photographers making the best use of their abilities?

Are photographers happy with their salary?

Photographers rated their satisfaction with their salaries 2.9/5. Photographers tend to be quite unhappy with their salary, with very few reporting satisfaction with their pay.

We asked photographers how fairly compensated they are for their work.
Their response was:

2.9 out of 5 stars

3632 photographers

5 Star
15%

15% of photographers rated their compensation 5 stars

4 Star
18%

18% of photographers rated their compensation 4 stars

3 Star
29%

29% of photographers rated their compensation 3 stars

2 Star
24%

24% of photographers rated their compensation 2 stars

1 Star
15%

15% of photographers rated their compensation 1 stars

Do photographers find their jobs meaningful?

On average, photographers rate the meaningfulness of their work a 3.6/5. Unlike many careers, photographers have little difficulty finding meaning in their work, and it likely constitutes one of the main reasons people become photographers.

We asked photographers how meaningful they found their work.
Their response was:

3.6 out of 5 stars

3698 photographers

5 Star
31%

31% of photographers rated how meaningful they found their career 5 stars

4 Star
26%

26% of photographers rated how meaningful they found their career 4 stars

3 Star
24%

24% of photographers rated how meaningful they found their career 3 stars

2 Star
12%

12% of photographers rated how meaningful they found their career 2 stars

1 Star
7%

7% of photographers rated how meaningful they found their career 1 stars

How well are people’s personalities suited to everyday tasks as photographers?

Photographers rated their personality fit with their work an average of 4.1/5. The majority of photographers find their personalities quite well suited to their work, with relatively few having complaints about their fit.

We asked photographers how well their personalities fit into their careers.
Their response was:

4.1 out of 5 stars

3995 photographers

5 Star
43%

43% of photographers rated their career fit 5 stars

4 Star
35%

35% of photographers rated their career fit 4 stars

3 Star
16%

16% of photographers rated their career fit 3 stars

2 Star
4%

4% of photographers rated their career fit 2 stars

1 Star
2%

2% of photographers rated their career fit 1 stars

How enjoyable is a photographer’s work environment?

As a whole, photographers rated their enjoyment of their work environment 4.0/5. A solid majority of photographers enjoy their work environment, probably contributing to overall higher satisfaction with working as a photographer.

We asked photographers how much they enjoyed their work environment.
Their response was:

4.0 out of 5 stars

3973 photographers

5 Star
38%

38% of photographers rated their work environment 5 stars

4 Star
35%

35% of photographers rated their work environment 4 stars

3 Star
19%

19% of photographers rated their work environment 3 stars

2 Star
6%

6% of photographers rated their work environment 2 stars

1 Star
2%

2% of photographers rated their work environment 1 stars

Are photographers making the best use of their abilities?

Former photographers on CareerExplorer have rated their skills utilization 3.7/5. Most photographers surveyed find that they manage to use their abilities to their fullest as a photographer, which helps contribute to higher career satisfaction in the long term.

We asked photographers how well their abilities were used in their careers.
Their response was:

3.7 out of 5 stars

3994 photographers

5 Star
32%

32% of photographers rated their how well their skills were utilized in their career 5 stars

4 Star
29%

29% of photographers rated their how well their skills were utilized in their career 4 stars

3 Star
23%

23% of photographers rated their how well their skills were utilized in their career 3 stars

2 Star
12%

12% of photographers rated their how well their skills were utilized in their career 2 stars

1 Star
4%

4% of photographers rated their how well their skills were utilized in their career 1 stars