What to Expect for Pay
Maybe we should start off this section by saying you better be in it for the love of nature, for the joy of backpacking in places like the wilderness of Montana, and the reverence of wild creatures that roam as freely as humans allow because the old adage states that if you follow your passion, the money will follow. But just like everything else in life, it’s going to take dogged determination, skill, staying power, and commitment to get where you want in this field. But if you’ve got a dream you better not end up on your death bed regretting that you didn’t go for it with every ounce of your being.
Strictly speaking from what we could gather from various sources on the Web, the average baseline salary in a wildlife photography job is about $25,000. Most wildlife photographers are freelancers, and the ones with good reputations will make considerably more. The best plan would be to remain flexible and not be afraid to expand your horizons with general outdoor photography, travel photography, and whatever else you can pick up. In the beginning, you can't really expect to rake in much more than $15,000 if you're married exclusively to wildlife photography. Plus, you'll likely have to cover your own travel expenses as well. We already mentioned the hundreds of thousands of people already competing for what work there is available.
Always be ready out there, don’t get caught in the perfect place at the perfect time with a lousy camera like I did as you’ll see from the picture of this giant bear that was foraging not more than a hundred yards from where I was standing. If I had one of the best digital cameras for wildlife photography at the time, I would have had some tremendous photos as a result. This bear was just showing off with all the various poses she struck seemingly knowing that I couldn’t adequately capture them on film. Best of luck to you, and never give up on a dream.
First image courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org
Second image courtesy of the author