Frequently Asked Questions


How can I be a photographer for National Geographic?

We are often asked by aspiring photojournalists for advice about entering this highly competitive field.

National Geographic photographers have college degrees in a variety of disciplines. Most did not major in photography, but all took photo courses. The most common majors have been journalism, anthropology, sociology or psychology, fine arts, and sciences. Our editors and photographers agree that it is important to complete a degree in a discipline other than photography. Freelancers usually come to us with at least five years of photojournalism experience or with specializations such as wildlife, underwater, nature, or aerial photography. We seek balance and an eclectic blend of interests, abilities, and photographic styles in the freelancers we hire.

Our Photography website includes photo galleries, photographer bios, photo tips from our pros, wallpapers, screen savers, and more.

The following books published by National Geographic Society are among those focused on photography:

Photographing Your Family, 2008
Work: The World in Photographs-Collector's Series Edition, 2008
Visions of Paradise, 2008
A Camera, Two Kids, And a Camel, 2008
Odysseys and Photographs, 2008
100 Days in Photographs, 2007
Work: The World in Photographs, 2007
The Camera Phone Book, 2007
National Geographic: The Wildlife Photographs, 2006
The Book of Photography, 2005
Wide Angle: National Geographic Greatest Places, 2005
In Focus: National Geographic Greatest Portraits, 2004
Through the Lens: National Geographic Greatest Photographs, 2003
Landscape: Photographs of Time and Place, 2003
Women Photographers at National Geographic, 2000
National Geographic Photographs: The Milestones, 1999
National Geographic Photographs Then and Now, 1998
National Geographic: The Photographs, 1994

Field Guides

Ultimate Field Guide to Landscape Photography, 2007
Ultimate Field Guide to Photography, 2006
National Geographic Photography Field Guide: Action & Adventure, 2006
National Geographic Photography Field Guide: Travel, 2005
National Geographic Photography Field Guide: Black & White, 2005
National Geographic Photography Field Guide, 2003
National Geographic Photography Field Guide: Digital, 2003
National Geographic Photography Field Guide: People & Portraits, 2002
National Geographic Photography Field Guide: Birds, 2002
National Geographic Photography Field Guide: Landscapes, 2002
National Geographic Photography Guide for Kids, 2001

The Photographers (VHS and DVD), Through the Lens (VHS and DVD) and NG Live! The Photographers: Lanting and Kendrick (DVD) provide behind-the-lens looks at NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC photographers, how they get those breathtaking shots, the dangers they face, and the lives they lead for the love of their craft.

Veteran National Geographic magazine photographer Michael "Nick" Nichols offers his candid insights about the life of a photojournalist on his own website.

How can I write for NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC?

Vacancies on our editorial staff are usually filled by men and women who have had quite a few years of experience in the newspaper or magazine publishing fields. In preparation for such work, many of our writers have made a thorough study of the sciences, journalism, and English, and in some cases know several languages. A solid academic background and a proven record of success in one's chosen field are most important. However, because we cannot know a person's particular talents nor assure employment after a completed course, we do not encourage gearing a career or educational program specifically toward employment by the National Geographic Society.

How can I become an explorer?

There are no set requirements for a position as an explorer. Our explorers come to us with a diverse and extensive list of credentials. You can read more on our explorers programs at:

Emerging Explorers
Young Explorers

How can I work with animals?

Though we frequently report on the work of wildlife biologists in the field, we do not have staff members engaged in this research.

The following organizations offer free (except where noted) information that can help you research the fields that interest you:

IU Center for the Integrative Study of Animal Behavior
Careers in Animal Behavior
Programs in Animal Behavior and Related Studies

The American Zoo and Aquarium Association

The American Veterinary Medical Association

The Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology

The Humane Society of the United States "Careers With Animals," U.S. $16.95 + shipping (for students grades 3-8)

All in a Day's Work: How to Turn a Love of Animals Into a Career

How can I learn about careers in geography?

We suggest you contact the Association of American Geographers (AAG). (Email: They are an excellent source for information about the field of geography, and they have the following publications available:

"Careers in Geography" (four-page brochure) Guide to Geography Programs in the Americas 2005-2006

Both items can be ordered from the AAG Publications Division. Email:

AAG also has a list of college and university geography departments in North America.

The University of Colorado at Boulder maintains a Virtual Geographer with links to geography departments at universities and colleges around the world.

Career opportunities at the National Geographic Society for persons with a background in geography are found primarily in our editorial research and cartography departments and in our geography education program. Staff members here are engaged in a broad range of activities promoting research and exploration, working with educators to improve the teaching of geography, and publishing geographical materials, including magazines, books, maps, films, and educational products, for both the school market and the general public. To produce these materials National Geographic employs writers, editors, computer specialists, researchers, artists, designers, and cartographers. Training in the discipline of geography is beneficial in all of these specialties. You can find all opportunities on our Jobs site.

Does the National Geographic Society offer internships?

Each year we offer a limited number of students the opportunity to become involved in our activities. Our programs are highly competitive and target students with skills and determination in fields pertinent to National Geographic's work. By definition, an intern is a student on a work assignment, and, therefore, students must be United States citizens or be legally entitled to work in the United States.

Our geography internship program, directed by Robert E. Dulli, Deputy to the Chairman, is designed for geography and cartography majors at U.S. colleges and universities who are currently in their junior or senior year of academic work, as well as master's degree students. The purpose of the program is to furnish students a professional learning experience through participation in various projects aimed at the diffusion of geographic knowledge. Information about this program, which presently accommodates eight to ten students for each academic term, is sent to heads of geography departments at colleges and universities throughout the United States in late August. The deadline for application materials, for all periods, is in early October for the following year. Candidates should apply through our Jobs site.

National Geographic magazine offers two paid photography internships each year. One internship is automatically offered to the winner of the College Photographer of the Year contest administered by the University of Missouri, Columbia.

The other internship is awarded based on a portfolio. To apply, send us a portfolio of recent work (no more than 30 images), a resume, and a letter of recommendation from a photography teacher or established photojournalist. We are interested in strong photojournalism and the ability to produce a visual narrative. We will also consider an aspiring studio photographer. Portfolios may be in the form of slides, prints, or clippings of any combination, in color and/or black and white. CDs should include thumbnails of the images. All portfolios must be postmarked no later than January 31. Send to Susan Smith, Deputy Director of Photography, National Geographic Magazine, 1145 17th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036. You should expect to hear from us one way or the other by early March.

National Geographic magazine and National Geographic Traveler magazine provide internships in journalism for college students chosen from a pool of applicants selected by the American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME). These students must have completed their junior year. Announcements about the program should be available at college English or journalism departments. ASME's deadline for applications is normally in mid-November. Information is also available from ASME.

National Geographic magazine also offers one or two summer internships in the design and editorial departments to furnish college juniors and seniors with professional experience in magazine writing, editing, research, or design. Information and applications, as well as information on other internships in our Digital Media office, are available on our Jobs site.

National Geographic Traveler, our 715,000-circulation travel magazine, offers both an academic internship and a post-graduate apprenticeship. Interns and apprentices participate in staff meetings, including story-planning sessions and photo and layout reviews. The unpaid academic internship is open to college juniors and seniors. Most successful candidates come to us with a journalism background or publications experience that involved reporting. Apply on our Jobs site. Openings are usually posted two months before the next term or opening.

Traveler's 12-month long research apprenticeship is open to recent college graduates with some publications experience. Apprentices are responsible for checking the factual accuracy of articles in the magazine as well as associated online content. A total of four apprenticeships are offered each year, two commencing in mid-January and two in mid-July. Candidates should apply through our Jobs site. Apprenticeship openings are posted in mid-April and mid-October.

National Geographic Adventure magazine, based in New York City, offers full-time four-month-long internships in the editorial, photography, and design departments. Applicants should have finished at least their junior year of college and have previous publishing experience, either through coursework, student publications, or previous internships. Students able to receive academic credit will be given preference. A demonstrated love of the outdoors and adventurous travel is also a plus. To apply, mail a cover letter and resume and one or two short writing samples or a photography portfolio to: Adventure Magazine, 19th Floor, 104 West 40th Street, New York 10018. For the editorial internship, address your application to Andrea Minarcek. For the photo internship, address your application to Sabine Meyer. For the design internship, address your application to Paul Rouse.

Internships offered by National Geographic Television & Film and by National Geographic Channels International (NGCI) at our headquarters in Washington, D.C., are listed on our Jobs site. Academic credit must be obtained, and there is no pay. If you are selected for an internship with us, you will be required to show proof of identity and employment eligibility.

For information about internships with National Geographic Channel U.S., please email directly.

National Geographic Libraries and Information Services (LIS) offers unpaid academic internship opportunities each semester. Candidates must be able to receive academic credit from their college or university and be working toward a master's degree in library science, information management, history with a concentration in archival/museum studies, or similar degree. LIS offers four concentrations: Archives and Historical Collections, Business and Editorial Research, Training and Technology, or Records and Rights Management. For further information, please visit our Jobs site.

National Geographic Communications offers unpaid academic internship opportunities each semester. Candidates must be able to receive academic credit from their college or university and be working toward a degree in communications, media/public relations, journalism, or equivalent. Communications interns assist with media relations and work with Communications staff to promote National Geographic's publications, projects, and products. For further information, please visit our Jobs site.

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