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:

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:

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 the Society'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. All internship positions are located at our headquarters in Washington, D.C.

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 with 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 U.S. in late August. The deadline for application materials for all periods is in early October for the following year. For inquiries regarding this program, send an email to

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC magazine offers one photography and three four-month multimedia apprenticeships each year.

The photography apprenticeship is automatically offered to the winner of the College Photographer of the Year (CPOY) contest administered by the University of Missouri–Columbia. The multimedia apprenticeships are based on portfolio.

To apply for one of our mulitmedia apprenticeships, send us a link to a website featuring your latest work, a resume, and a letter of recommendation from a photography/multimedia teacher or established multimedia producer. Please send applications to We are interested in strong photojournalism and the ability to tell stories. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Please note that we receive a huge volume of applications and the selection process is extremely competitive. We are not able to reply to all applicants but will follow up with you if we are interested.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC and NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVELER provide several internships in journalism for college students chosen from a pool of applicants selected by the American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME). One internship is offered in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC magazine offices and the others in our TRAVELER magazine office. Qualifying 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 on the ASME website:

Internships offered by National Geographic Television & Film and by National Geographic Channels International (NGCI) at our headquarters in Washington, D.C., are listed on the Jobs page of our website. To check availability and apply online, please visit and . Academic credit must be obtained, and the internships are unpaid. 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.