In general, a person interested in becoming a photographer does not necessarily need to earn any photographer qualifications; he or she can simply learn the skills necessary to become a photographer on his or her own. This is definitely the harder route to becoming a photographer, however, so many people choose to earn photographer qualifications that will teach them the skills and techniques faster and more efficiently. Earning a college degree is certainly one way to earn the appropriate qualifications; some colleges and universities will offer such degrees. Some photography schools will also offer certificate programs that will allow a potential photographer to build his or her credentials.
More than any education photographer qualifications, work experience is perhaps the best way to build one's credentials. A photography apprenticeship is one way to gain valuable work experience that will give the photographer qualifications that will be respected by potential employers as well as clients. During an apprenticeship, the photographer will work with a more experienced professional photographer who can teach the skills necessary to be successful in the field. The apprentice may act as a photo assistant, setting up equipment and tearing it down, or even adjusting it during a shoot; he or she may also act as a second shooter at a wedding or other large event.
Of course, earning a college degree goes a long way toward adding legitimacy to photographer qualifications. Associate's degrees are two-year degrees that will teach a student the basics of photography or graphic design. Bachelor's degrees are four-year degrees that go beyond the basics and teach the student advanced skills that will be useful during one's career as a professional photographer. Master's degrees in photography may be available, though they are not as common as associate's degrees and bachelor's degrees.
A training program can be taken to build photographer qualifications as well, usually resulting in a professional certificate or credential. These training programs can range anywhere from one day to several months long, depending on the complexity of the topic and the prestige of the qualification. A photographer may choose to go through such a training program to improve his or her skills in the field, learn more about a new topic in photography, or even learn more about an unrelated topic. Business programs, for example, are helpful for educating photographers how to set up and run a business effectively, as well as how to market the business.