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Photographic technician

Photographic technicians produce images from digital files.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £14,000 to £35,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 37 to 40 per week

1. Entry requirements

There are no set requirements. You could work in high street mini-labs if you’ve basic IT skills and an interest in photography. Some employers may prefer you to have GCSEs including maths and science, or equivalent.

To work in a professional lab, archive store or picture library, you’ll usually need formal qualifications like a Diploma, HNC or HND, or foundation degree in photography, graphic design, or art and design.

Experience of desktop publishing packages like Photoshop, Photoshop Lightroom, QuarkXpress, Illustrator or InDesign can help, along with Apple Macintosh (Mac) computer skills.

To work in print finishing, you’ll usually need practical skills in woodworking or picture framing.

You could get into this job through an apprenticeship.

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • good colour vision
  • basic maths skills
  • excellent IT skills
  • practical skills, for operating machinery and diagnosing faults
  • excellent communication and customer service skills
  • creativity and design skills, if working in digital imaging

3. What you'll do

Your day-to-day duties may include:

  • using computerised equipment  
  • printing customers' image files onto photographic paper or copying them onto a disc or USB storage device
  • making adjustments where necessary, taking lighting conditions or exposure into account
  • quality checking prints, packing them into envelopes and labelling them for customers
  • checking and maintaining equipment
  • taking payments from customers
  • selling camera equipment and assisting customers downloading files via a kiosk system

If working in digital imaging, your tasks may include:

  • discussing the format and finish of the image with customers
  • downloading or importing digital files or scanning images into a computer
  • using software to crop, resize and colour correct images
  • printing the images onto suitable paper
  • loading images onto a website or emailing them to the customer
  • building up image banks
  • dealing with administration issues around image rights

4. Salary

Starter: £14,000 to £18,000

Experienced: £20,000 to £30,000

Highly Experienced: £35,000

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You’ll work between 37 and 40 hours a week, Monday to Friday. You may need to work shifts in larger laboratories.

You could work in a photo lab, darkroom or high street shop. You’ll wear protective gloves and clothes when handling chemicals. Print finishing can include physical work, like lifting large picture frames or rolls of laminate.

6. Career path and progression

With experience, you could move into management. 

You could also choose to start your own photographic business or open a franchise to run a mini-lab.

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Last updated: 08 December 2016