How to Become a Photo Technician



The rise of digital photography hasn’t made photo technicians obsolete. Sure, many of them now work with software programs such as Photoshop, but many of them do still work in darkrooms. There are still many part-time and full-time jobs to be had in this field.


Getting into this line of work can be a great choice for you if you’re good with customers, you have an eye for detail, and you’re interested in using digital or chemical processes to improve or restore photos. 


Below, we’ve outlined everything you'll need to know to become a photo technician. We’ll show you what type of experience will be useful and why, what traits you’ll need to be effective and successful, what types of employers you might find yourself working for, and more. Let’s get started.



Education You’ll Need to Become a Photo Technician

Most employers in this field don’t list any formal education requirements. However, pursuing some coursework, or even earning a certificate or an associate’s degree related to photography, can show them that you’re serious about the profession, and that you have acquired some fundamental skills.





Experience and Skills You’ll Need

Whether it’s acquired by way of relevant education, or as a result of having relevant work experience (or some combination of the two), employers will want to see that you have skills and knowledge in the following areas:


• Excellent knowledge of photography best practices, post production, image formats, etc.

• Experience and knowledge of working with various camera systems, i.e. Nikon, Sony, Phase One, etc.

• Experience and skill with chemical-based film processing

• Photo retouching skills 

• Experience working with editing software, such as Photoshop

• Customer service experience


Please Note: The above list represents skills and areas of experience that are general to this profession. Depending on the job, some of these will be more relevant than others, and some might not be relevant at all.



Additional Traits and Attributes

In addition to the experience and skills listed above, employers also typically look for candidates with the following personal traits and attributes:


• The ability to combine technical work with customer service

• An eye for detail

• A desire to support company initiatives

• A willingness to be available to work a flexible schedule (Monday to Sunday), possibly with work stretching into the evening



More About This Career: Photo Technician Job Description

Using a range of processing equipment, a photo technician processes photographic film and digital images. Most photo technicians work with computerized equipment and software to develop and print images, although some still work in darkrooms. 


Many photo technician jobs are also customer service-centered, and require a great deal of customer contact. In such positions, photo technicians also suggest products and services, develop and package photo orders, and may operate photography equipment.


Please Note: Photo technicians can also be known as "photo processing technicians", "digital imaging technicians", and "print finishers".



General Job Duties & Responsibilities

Although your specific duties would vary from job to job, you’d likely be responsible for the following as a photo technician:


• Using chemicals and/or computer software to develop photographs

• Printing, processing, and sorting film of all sizes and types

• Protecting film or the digital storage device during printing process

• Meeting stringent deadlines

• Maintaining computers, processing equipment, and the laboratory

• Keeping diligent inventory of chemicals and supplies needed for processing

• Enlarging and reducing photos without compromising their quality or clarity

• Maintaining equipment under the direction of the Photo Lab Manager

• Mixing chemicals and general housekeeping

• Scanning film using a PC for digital delivery of images

• Providing friendly and efficient customer service 





Work Environment Typical to This Profession

Setting: As a photo technician, you would likely split your time between a photo lab/darkroom, an office, and a customer-facing service counter. However, this would depend on your area of specialty and the nature of your job. For example, if you specialize in digital photography, you might not ever work in a photo processing darkroom, and if you work in a large team with specialized roles, you might not have to serve customers.


Schedule: Work in this field is typically conducted during retail business hours, and shifts would likely reflect the operating hours of the employer. Full-time jobs in this field are common, as are part-time jobs.


Conditions: If working with chemically developed photos, you would wear protective gloves and clothing when handling chemicals. In any setting, your work would involve minor physical elements to it, such as lifting large picture frames or rolls of laminate. If you’re responsible for working with digital photos, you may have to spend a large amount of time in front of a computer. Having to deal directly with customers is usually a part of the job, but that can vary.



Advice for Finding a Job

One of the easiest ways to find a job as a photo technician is to conduct an online job search, as this is a highly effective means of getting your resume in front of employers that are actively hiring.


When online searches fail, you can try more direct approaches. If you attended, or are attending, a university, college or other institution that offers digital editing and other photography editing classes, ask your instructor if anyone in their professional network is looking to hire a photo technician.


Contacting organizations that use the services of photo technicians is also highly recommended, as this will help you tap into the hidden job market*. Contacting local publications, such as newspapers and magazines, as well as photography supply shops (both large and small) is a great place to start.


*Job postings (online and otherwise), while common, only represent an estimated 80% of currently available positions (across every industry, not just photography). The 'hidden' job market makes up the rest, and is comprised of job postings not advertised, online or otherwise. In such cases, contacting them directly and asking if they could use your services can be a very effective way to get on their radar, and possibly land a job.



Who Creates Jobs for Photo Technicians?

Photo technicians are often employed by the following types of individuals and organizations:


• Boutique photo labs

• Photography equipment stores 

• Photography processing labs (which may be in the photography equipment stores)

• Large retailers 

• Corporate printing and signage shops

• Photography, creative, and artistic studios 

• Law enforcement agencies

• Event planners and wedding planners

• Other types of organizations



Photo Technician Jobs - Current Opportunities

Our job board below has current 'photo technician' opportunities, when available. If none are listed, try alternative terms, such as "photo lab", "photo processing", and others:




Career Advancement Possibilities 

As a photo technician, you would have a variety of career advancement options. One common path of course, would be to move into a supervisory or management position with your employer, which would involve more administrative responsibility and likely a higher level of pay.


Depending on where your interests and ambitions lie, you could also choose to pursue a career as a photographer, or as a graphic designer. Both fields would offer their own career advancement and specialization opportunities.



Similar Career Guides in Our Database

Listed below are occupational guides in our database for careers that are similar in nature to “photo technician”, as they involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities. 


Assistant Photographer

Camera Operator

Customer Service Representative 

Graphic Designer 

• Pharmacist





References for This Career Guide

The following sources were referenced in the preparation of this career guide. Please visit them to learn more about the various aspects of this career:


Job Profiles:Photographic technician.” (n.d.). Education and Skills Funding Agency - National Careers Service. Retrieved July 26, 2019.

My Career Options:Photographic technician.” (n.d.). Skills Development Scotland - Retrieved July 26, 2019.


Please Note: Much of the information sourced for this career guide was obtained by a multitude of actual job postings, which aren’t listed here as cited references. 



Scholarships for Becoming a Photo Technician

All of the scholarships found on our Fine Arts Scholarships and Graphic Design Scholarships pages are relevant for becoming a photo technician.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships for which you are even remotely qualified - millions of dollars in scholarship money go to waste every year in Canada and the USA due to a lack of applicants…millions.



Relevant Fields of Study

Studying the university majors listed below can serve as an excellent educational foundation for this profession:


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