SOC Code: 27-4021.01

Pay Band(s): 3 and 4 (Salary Structure)

Standard Occupational Description: Photograph subjects or news worthy events, using still cameras, color or black-and-white film, and variety of photographic accessories.

Photographer positions in the Commonwealth are assigned to the following Roles in the Media and Production Services Career Group:

Media Specialist II

Media Specialist III

While Photographers within the Commonwealth are all located within the Media and Production Services Career Group, individuals may want to pursue other opportunities within the Commonwealth depending upon individual training, education, knowledge, skills, abilities, and interests.   

Other Career Group(s) that may be of interest are:

Public Relations and Marketing

Training and Instruction


(Technical and Functional Expertise)

Note: The technical and functional skills listed below are based on general occupational qualifications for Photographers commonly recognized by most employers.  Typically, you will not be required to have all of the skills listed to be a successful performer.  Recruitment and selection standards for an individual state job must be based on the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities for that job as indicated in the job announcement and job description in the Employee Work Profile.

  1. Determining the kind of tools and equipment needed to do a job.
  2. Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
  3. Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  4. Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
  5. Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
  6. Obtaining and seeing to the appropriate use of equipment, facilities, and materials needed to do certain work.

Note: The technical and functional knowledge statements listed below are based on general occupational qualifications for Photographers commonly recognized by most employers.  Typically, you will not be required to have all of the knowledge listed to be a successful performer.  Recruitment and selection standards for an individual state job must be based on the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities for that job as indicated in the job announcement and job description in the Employee Work Profile.

The Knowledge of:

  1. Theory and techniques required to compose, produce, and perform works of music, dance, visual arts, drama, and sculpture.
  2.  Chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.


Note: The technical and functional abilities listed below are based on general occupational qualifications for Photographers commonly recognized by most employers.  Typically, you will not be required to have all of the abilities listed to be a successful performer.  Recruitment and selection standards for an individual state job must be based on the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities for that job as indicated in the job announcement and job description in the Employee Work Profile.

The Ability to:

  1. Imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.
  2. Keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.
  3. Come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).
  4. See details at a distance.
  5. Quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.
  6. Come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.
  7. Judge which of several objects is closer or farther away from you, or to judge the distance between you and an object.
  8. See details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
  9. Arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
  10. Time your movements or the movement of a piece of equipment in anticipation of changes in the speed and/or direction of a moving object or scene.

Note:  The following is a list of sample tasks typically performed by Photographers.  Employees in this occupation will not necessarily perform all of the tasks listed. 

  1. Frames subject matter and background in lens to capture desired image.
  2. Focuses camera and adjusts settings based on lighting, subject material, distance, and film speed.
  3. Selects and assembles equipment and required background properties, according to subject, materials, and conditions.
  4. Directs activities of workers assisting in setting up photographic .
  5. Arranges subject material in desired position.
  6. Estimates or measures light level, distance, and number of exposures needed, using measuring devices and formulas.


Like people, occupations have traits or characteristics.  These characteristics give important clues about the nature of the work and work environment, and give you an opportunity to match your own personal interests to a specific occupation.  When you choose a job in an occupation that matches your own interests you have taken an important step in planning a successful and rewarding career.

The occupation of Photographers has Artistic, Realistic and Enterprising characteristics as described below:

Artistic — Artistic occupations frequently involve working with forms, designs and patterns. They often require self-expression and the work can be done without following a clear set of rules.

Realistic — Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Enterprising — Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.


Generally this is not required for Photographer positions in state government.

The Professional Photographers of America, Inc. offer a certification program for photographers.

PPA Certified is the designation granted by Professional Photographers of America, the world's leading certification agency of, and largest Association for, imaging professionals.

Those who have earned PPA Certification have passed a comprehensive written examination measuring their technical expertise, and have successfully submitted their work to a panel of judges for review and approval.

Every five years, a PPA Certified photographer must renew his or her credentials by participating in continuing education programs and periodically submitting work for critical evaluation. This helps assure you that PPA Certified photographers maintain their level of expertise and continue to develop new skills and techniques.

Professional growth and career progression may be enhanced by certification.


The Department of Labor provides the following information:

Photographers produce and preserve images that paint a picture, tell a story, or record an event. To create commercial quality photographs, photographers need both technical expertise and creativity. Producing a successful picture requires choosing and presenting a subject to achieve a particular effect, and selecting the appropriate equipment.

Employers usually seek applicants with a “good eye,” imagination, and creativity, as well as a good technical understanding of photography. Entry-level positions in photojournalism or in industrial or scientific photography generally require a college degree in journalism or photography.

Many universities, community and junior colleges, vocational-technical institutes, and private trade and technical schools offer photography courses. Basic courses in photography cover equipment, processes, and techniques. Bachelor's degree programs, especially those including business courses, provide a well-rounded education. Art schools offer useful training in design and composition.

After several years of experience, magazine and news photographers may advance to photography or picture editor positions. Some photographers teach at technical schools, film schools, or universities.

The State Council of Higher Education lists the following Virginia educational institutions offering programs in photography: Virginia Commonwealth University and Virginia Intermont College.


Competencies are a set of identified behaviors, knowledge, skills, and abilities that directly and positively impact the success of employees and the organization. Competencies can be observed and measured.  When consistently demonstrated, competencies make employees particularly effective in their work.  Competencies help lay out a road map to career success.  You can use the Commonwealth Competencies to help improve your individual performance by adopting behaviors that make high performing employees successful in their jobs. In this way, you can use the Commonwealth Competencies for your further professional development.

The Commonwealth Competencies are:

  1. Technical and Functional Expertise
  2. Understanding the Business     
  3. Achieving Results
  4. Serving the Customer
  5. Teamwork
  6. Interpersonal and Communication Skills
  7. Leadership and Personal Effectiveness

The above competencies may be applied to employees throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia.  They can be rank-ordered by agencies and hiring managers to represent the needs of a specific job.  The rank ordering will change depending upon the occupation, an organization's priorities, the actual job requirements, and the supervisor's preferences. 

Career success is both about what you do (applying your technical knowledge, skills, and ability) and how you do it (the consistent behaviors you demonstrate and choose to use) while interacting and communicating with others.  Hopefully, by studying the Commonwealth competencies, identifying your developmental opportunities, and working to refine your own competence, you can take charge of your career!

For additional information about the Commonwealth Competencies go to:  For the competencies, we first list the competencies and then define each.  Finally, we list competency indicators; to describe what successful performance looks like. 


Career opportunities in the Commonwealth are not limited to moving “up” to the next highest role and pay band, changing positions, or to becoming a supervisor.  That's because most roles describe a broad group of occupationally related positions that perform a range of work that requires increased knowledge and skills.  For that reason, Commonwealth roles describe the career paths within the same or higher-level role for the same or different Career Group.  The broad salary range and the Commonwealth's pay practices provide flexibility in recognizing career development and advancement. (Salary Structure)

For example: Photographer







Media Specialist II



Media Specialist III



Media Manager I



Media Manager II


Sample Career Path

Media Specialist II

The Media Specialist II role provides a career track for photographers whose duties range from entry-level to advanced-level. Duties include photography.

Media Specialist III

The Media Specialist III role provides a career track for photographers whose expertise levels vary from advanced level to supervisory. Duties may include photography and complex photo or image reproduction programs; design projects and promotional objectives and supervising production and maintenance of exhibits.

Media Manager I

The Media Manager I role provides a career track for managers responsible for directing major exhibit and gallery projects or complex graphic design programs. Duties include leadership and creativity in managing: a department that plans, develops, coordinates, and monitors the production of multiple concurrent exhibits and gallery projects that meet aesthetic and conservatorial standards as well as time and budget allowances.

Media Manager II

The Media Manager II role provides a career track for managers responsible for providing leadership and creativity in directing multi-media services used by state agencies for promotional, educational and informational purposes. Areas of responsibility include state distance learning programs and/or graphic communications.


O*NET (Occupational Information Network)

Virginia Employment Commission

Career One Stop

Virginia Career Resource Network

Professional Organizations

Professional Photographers of America, Inc:

National Press Photographers Association, Inc: