I read an interesting article in the June 2006 issue of PDN (Photo District News) entitled, "Salary Survey: Who Earns What." The article surveyed photographers to see what type of salaries they made. The results were very interesting, especially for those of us who would like to make a living with our camera.
Out of the 1040 photographers surveyed, the mean (average) salary was $95,000, while the median (middle) was $57,500. That's not too bad. The thing I find most interesting was the breakdown of who's making what in terms of their specialty, ESPECIALLY since I teach photography in Fine Art departments. (I guess the starving artist saying has some truth to it.)
According to this survey, Fine Art Photographers generate the lowest incomes. (PDN's quote says, "...pity the fine-art photographers, who obviously get up in the morning for reasons other than money.") By comparison, Advertising Photographers definitely bring home the bacon. Also to point out, "Consumer" refers to wedding and portrait photographers.
Obviously money is not the end all be all. But, it does force you to begin to think about where you're headed as a photographer. If this is to be your vocation, what do you need to do to make a living? What skills do you need to have in the working world? What can you do to stand out in the crowd and do well for yourself?
These are difficult questions, but ones that you can hopefully begin to answer by the end of your educational career! And hopefully questions I can help you solve and prepare for as a teacher.