Photographic technician

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Photographic assistant

PPhotographic technicians help photographers and produce images from digital files.

Salary range: £14,000 to £35,000

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How to become a photographic technician

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • applying directly
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University

You could do a foundation degree, higher national diploma or degree in photography or digital imaging.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 1 or 2 A levels, or equivalent, for a foundation degree or higher national diploma
  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree

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College

In professional labs, archive stores and picture libraries, you’ll usually need formal qualifications in photography like:

  • Level 2 Diploma in Photography and Photo Imaging
  • Level 3 Certificate in Art and Design (photography option)
  • Level 3 Diploma in Photography

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course

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Apprenticeship

You can get into this job through a photo imaging or photographic assistant advanced apprenticeship.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship

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Direct application

You could apply directly to work as a photographic technician. For work in high street mini-labs, you’ll need basic computer skills and an interest in photography. You don’t always need formal qualifications, but some employers may prefer you to have GCSEs.

For print finishing, you’ll usually need practical skills in woodworking and picture framing.

More information

Career tips

For some digital imaging jobs, you’ll need experience of desktop publishing packages like Photoshop, QuarkXpress, Illustrator or InDesign.

Further information

You can find out more about careers in photography from Creative Choices and The Association of Photographers.

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What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to work on your own
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • the ability to work well with others
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • knowledge of computer operating systems, hardware and software
  • customer service skills
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
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What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

Your day-to-day duties may include:

  • using computerised equipment to adjust and improve images
  • printing customers’ image files onto photographic paper, canvas or other materials
  • quality checking prints and sending out by post or online
  • taking payments from customers
  • helping the photographer during photo shoots
  • checking and maintaining equipment
  • selling camera equipment and giving advice to customers

Working environment

You could work at a store or in a creative studio.

Your working environment may be physically demanding.

You may need to wear protective clothing.

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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.