How Long Does It Take to Learn Photoshop

You’ve seen people do some pretty amazing stuff with Photoshop. You wonder, how hard can it be? I can learn Photoshop too, right?

In general, yes, anyone willing to put in the work can learn Photoshop. But it does take time and patience.

Hey there, I’m Cara! I’ve been using Photoshop mostly for editing images for several years. I can tell you from personal experience that Photoshop seems really confusing and overwhelming when you first start. 

But once you start understanding the concepts, it becomes easier and an amazing creative world opens in front of you. It’s pretty exciting!

If you’re not at that stage yet, you might be wondering how long to learn Photoshop. And maybe if it’s worth the time you’d have to put into it. Let’s find out!

The Average Amount of Time to Learn Photoshop

To be honest, there are a lot of factors that affect how long it takes to learn Photoshop. Your proficiency with a computer, the particular techniques you need to learn for your purposes, and even the teaching method you choose have a huge impact.

However, if we break it all down, most experts agree the average person can become an advanced user in about 36 – 96 hours of study. 

Why such a big range? Again, it depends on what you need to learn for your purpose and other factors. Let’s break it down even further to help you approximate how long you should expect it would take you to learn the program. 

Understanding the Interface (6-12 hours)

The best first step is to learn the interface. Photoshop is a big program, there are a lot of options and techniques hiding all over the place. Figuring out (and remembering) where everything lives is more than half the battle. 

However, Photoshop is laid out in a very orderly fashion. If you take the time to understand the interface, you’ll have a much easier time learning techniques and remembering where everything is located. 

Photoshop Essentials courses that introduce students to the interface run between 6 and 12 hours. 

In addition to learning where everything lives, you’ll also be introduced to foundational concepts such as: 

  • Working with the tools
  • Working with layers
  • The basics of masks
  • Working with filters
  • Exporting projects
  • Etc

Imagine that! In only 9 hours on average, you’ll have a basic understanding of the program. 

Of course, don’t expect to be turning out complex composite images at this point. But you will have laid the foundation for that kind of work. 

Learning a Specialization (12-24 hours)

After learning the basics, most people move on to a specialization. It’s a rare person who actually needs to use all the functions of Photoshop. 

A photographer uses different tools and techniques than a graphic designer or a marketing specialist and so on. There are even differences within the same industry as you’ll see in a moment. 

Thus, the amount of time you’ll spend learning a specialization ranges from roughly 12 – 42 hours. 

Let’s break it down a little more and offer some practical time frames for different professions. 


It’s reasonable to expect to learn Photoshop for photography in around 2 – 3 months at an average pace. This includes resizing or rescaling, adjusting lighting and colors, creating effects like added blur, or clearing up defects. 

Keep in mind that tasks like extensive composite work will take longer to learn and require more hours of practice.

Creative Professions

Illustrators, artists, designers, and other creative professionals also use Photoshop in their work. In practical terms, most people can learn to use the creative tools in Photoshop in about a month. 

Print Media

Many people in advertising and marketing and other related professions use Photoshop for print media and other applications. These processes aren’t too difficult to learn. Most people will master them in less than a month.

Practice Time (At Least 1 hour/day)

Once you have learned the basics of Photoshop and been introduced to the techniques for your specialization, it’s time to practice. 

If you take a course for your specialization, you should plan roughly 1 hour of practice for every hour of class time. However, this varies as well. 

More difficult concepts may take more time to grasp. You may work on (and throw out) several practice projects before you start consistently creating quality work. 

Some people find the practice stage a difficult one to get through. Plus, this stage is usually the one that takes up most of your time. It’s where you go from understanding how Photoshop works to actually creating usable material. 

There are a few ways to organize this. Some people follow YouTube tutorials to understand how someone else gets from point A to point B. From copying this, they develop what works for them and start creating their own original work. 

Other people take an organized 30-day challenge. This method is great for those who need a competitive push to stay motivated. But it can be tough if you don’t have time to dedicate daily to the challenge. 

The main thing is to find what works for you to consistently practice. 

Factors Affecting How Fast You Learn

So now we know it takes 6 – 12 hours to learn the basics and 12 – 42 hours to learn a specialization. We’ve also discussed the average time in months it might take for 3 common specializations. 

Let’s look further at what will affect your learning time. 


This is the biggest one. How much time do you have available to dedicate to Photoshop? 

If you sit down and study all at once, it’s technically possible to learn Photoshop in a week. But few people have that kind of time on their hands. 

Even if you do, cramming isn’t always the best way to retain information over the long term. However, this method would work if you continued using Photoshop regularly afterward. Also, you would spend the least amount of time actively learning Photoshop.

If you stretch your learning period out over several weeks or months, learning Photoshop will require more active hours of practice. Because of the gaps between sessions, you’ll have to review more information which slows the process. 

The best way for most people is to schedule an hour or two each day to dedicate to Photoshop. Being consistent will help you learn both quickly and well.


Your budget for Photoshop education also affects the time it will take to learn. Can you afford a comprehensive course that has everything you need to know neatly laid out for you? You’ll generally learn faster than someone who pieces it together on their own. 

Attention Span

Your attention span is also a factor. I can attest to this as I don’t do well sitting at a computer for long periods. I had to learn Photoshop in bite-sized pieces. There’s no way I could sit down and work on it for 8 hours a day or something similar to cram it in all at once. I started to zone out after listening to someone talk for twenty minutes. Of course, you might be different.

Learning with a Course vs Independently

This brings us to our next topic. What is the best way to learn Photoshop? The method you choose will also affect how fast you’ll learn it. 

There are several methods you can use to learn Photoshop. The main two types are to learn through a course or to learn independently. 

The internet is full of resources for both. There are Photoshop basics, specific skills, and massive complete guides to Photoshop with dozens of hours of instruction for those who wish to fully master Photoshop. 

To learn independently, all you need is access to the Internet. There are many sites like PhotoshopBuzz offering tips, tutorials, and informational articles that will help you learn Photoshop in bite-sized pieces. 

Our articles make it easy to understand each individual tool in Photoshop or learn how to perform a specific technique without having to wade through an entire course. You can also find short video explanations on YouTube as well as entire courses. 

What’s the best method? Whatever works best for you!

Some people prefer to learn from tutorials like ours. This gives them an easy step-by-step guide they can refer to. Others prefer a video format so they can see the technique in action. 

Some prefer the freedom of learning independently, whereas others prefer the structure of a course. All methods work, though some will work better for you specifically than others.

The only wrong way to learn Photoshop is to not try at all.

How to Learn Photoshop Faster (3 Tips)

Learning Photoshop will take you as an individual however long it takes you. Many factors affect each individual including how much time you put into it, how quickly you grasp the concepts, and so on. However, there are ways to speed up the learning process. 

1. Start with Learning the Interface

The first step is to learn the interface. There are a lot of tools in Photoshop which means it can take a while to find things. If you dive in without understanding the interface, you’ll waste a lot of time searching for stuff. 

This is also one of the reasons beginners feel overwhelmed with the program and may even give up.

Learning the interface is boring, but can be done in a few hours. The average person can do this in just 1 – 3 hours.

2. Take a Targeted Course

While some people learn better on their own, many people benefit from following a course. To speed up learning, choose a targeted course that teaches the specific skills you need for your particular creative pursuits. 

This helps cut down on wasting time learning extraneous tools and techniques that you won’t need. 

3. Speed Up the Videos

Here’s a fun tip, most courses will allow you to play the video 25% or even 50% faster. If you can keep up, playing the videos faster will help cut down on the time you spend in the course. When you run into a more difficult concept, you can always slow the video down to focus better.

But be careful with this technique. If you end up skipping over something essential, you could waste time trying to figure it out later. Remember, the goal is to learn Photoshop, not just finish the lessons as fast as possible. 

When Can You Say You’ve Learned Photoshop?

We’ve been talking throughout this article about learning Photoshop. But what does that actually mean? 

Did you know there are nearly 70 tools available in Photoshop? How many people do you think intimately know how to use them all well? Even most people who’ve mastered Photoshop don’t know every single thing there is to do in the program.

However, you don’t need that level of knowledge to say you’ve learned Photoshop.

For most people, once you’ve learned what you need to know for your purposes, you’ve learned Photoshop. That level of knowledge will vary depending on your needs and that’s okay. The main thing is that you know how to get the program to do what you want it to do.

And if you run into something you don’t know, you can visit PhotoshopBuzz to find out how to do it!

So, Is it Worth it to Learn Photoshop?

You can learn a few basic concepts in a few hours. But proficiency in Photoshop requires a few dozen hours at a minimum. And if you want to truly master Photoshop, this turns to hundreds of hours. 

Is it worth your time? 

Would learning Photoshop help progress your career? Or help you move into a different career that you would enjoy more? If you can earn a comfortable living using the program, it is most certainly worth it. 

But what if you don’t use Photoshop to make money? Many people create gorgeous works of art with Photoshop. Their purpose might not be to make money, but they deeply enjoy what they do. That’s totally worth it too! 

In short, whether Photoshop is worth your time is a question only you can answer. If you decide to press forward, we have a plethora of tutorials and tips available here on PhotoshopBuzz that will help you learn Photoshop in easy, bite-sized pieces. Check out our image manipulation articles here to get started!

About Cara Koch
Cara fell in love with photography circa 2014 and has been exploring all corners of the imagery world ever since. When she felt limited by Lightroom, she dove headfirst into Photoshop to learn how to create the images she wanted.

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