The photographic laboratory technician processes film from various sources including, digital and film, and develops pictures from negatives. Many photographic laboratory technicians work in retail shops that offer photographic developing to their customers. Photographic workers primarily print photographs, but they can also take still and moving pictures, edit, retouch, enlarge and transfer photographs to CDs or DVDs.
Although there are no formal educational requirements, most employers prefer that employees have at least a high school diploma or equivalent. Technicians and photo process workers typically learn the required tasks on the job. Some vocational and online courses are available to those interested in learning more technical skills in the area of image developing and processing. The Photo Marketing Association offers courses and certifications to its members. Many of the skills learned in this occupation are useful for a career as a photographer or in other fields related to film or digital photography.
The photographic laboratory technician is responsible for the maintenance and operation of photographic processing equipment. The technician maintains appropriate records of negatives and prints to ensure customer satisfaction. Technicians are responsible for preparation, addition and disposal of chemicals used in the processing equipment. Technicians inspect rolls of film to detect imperfections or defects, which may result in poor quality during the development of prints. The photographic lab technician enlarges photographs, retouches negatives and edits prints. Some photographic laboratories offer additional services, such as transferring photographs into towels, blankets or other fabric items and creating small photo books and other novelty items.
A photographic laboratory technician can become a laboratory supervisor or a regional manager for several locations. Technicians may decide to open their own business or move into a related occupation.
Employment opportunities in this field will stay about the same between 2012 and 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The primary factors for this static job market are continuing advances in digital photography, home printers, online ordering services and self-service machinery for digital images in retail establishments. The remaining photographic laboratory technicians will primarily process photographs captured on film.
The median annual wage for photographic process workers and processing machine operators was $23,840 as of May 2013, according to the BLS. Eighty percent of these workers earned between $17,470 and $43,570 annually.
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