I can think of a couple of wildlife photographers who make a very good income, Thomas Mangelson and Art Wolfe. Mangelson has made an industry out of his "brand name" photography with several shops selling his prints and Wolfe, also a "name brand," does books and photo tours that are highly popular. Both established themselves years ago, pre-digital, when stock photography paid well and the files of stock agencies were not filled with hundreds or thousands of images of every animal on the planet. Stock images twenty years ago could be licensed and re-licensed for fees in magazines and books of $100 to $200 upward. Now, with fewer magazines and images mostly used on the internet, those same images bring in only a few dollars each, if anything at all. With digital cameras in hand, hundreds of amateur wildlife photographers shoot amazing photos and are willing to pay thousands to get to the best locations for wildlife shooting. That may be the wildlife photography market that could still be tapped into, assuming you can establish a name as a knowledgable wildlife photography guide/tour operator.
This is a tough question to answer because it really depends all on you. Do you produce saleable images?
Are you marketing yourself to the clients that can use your services? As a freelance wildlife photographer, I assume that's the profession you are exploring, it's up to you as to how much money you can earn. I would suggest that you get an education, or a skill, that allows you to earn a living and pursue your photography on the side. If your photo revenue grows, you may be able to quit your fulltime job and just be a working photographer. Best of luck to you as you continue your life journey.
Hi, Since many wildlife photographers are self-employed and work on a freelance basis, their salaries vary widely by year and individual. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual wage of all photographers was $42,770 per year, or $20.56 per hour