The photographic laboratory technician processes film from various sources including, digital and film based, 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 CD's or DVD's.
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Although there are no formal educational requirements, most employers prefer their 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 those interested in learning more technical skills in the area of image developing and processing. The Photo Marketing Association offers some courses and certifications to its members. Many of the skills learnt in this occupation are useful to those intending to pursue a career as a photographer or 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 is capable of enlarging photographs, retouching negatives and editing prints. Some photographic laboratories offer additional services, such as transferring photographs into towels, blankets or other fabric items, creating small photo books and other novelty items.
A photographic laboratory technician can become a laboratory supervisor, 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 decline rapidly 2008 to 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Agency projected a decrease in jobs by approximately 16 per cent. The primary factors for this decline are continuing advances in digital photography, home printers, online ordering services and self-service machinery in retail establishments, which can process digital images. The remaining photographic laboratory technicians will primarily process photographs captured on film.
The median annual wage for photographic process workers during the reporting period of May 2008 was £16,906, according to BLS, while photographic processing machine operators earned £13,234.
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