Career Definition for a Digital Photo Technician
Digital photo technicians use computers to retouch negatives, prints and digital images to emphasize or correct specific features. They scan prints or transfer digital images into computer systems and then use image manipulation software to reformat them and adjust their color, contrast and size. Digital photo technicians may also alter or remove photographs' backgrounds or integrate features from different photographs. Other duties of digital photo technicians may include archiving and cataloging images.
|Education||High school diploma and on-the-job training|
|Job Skills||Visually aware, excellent computer skills, familiarity with photo editing software, math skills and basic understanding of geometric ratios|
|Median Salary (May 2017)*||$27,480 (photographic process workers and process machine operators, including digital photo technicians)|
|Job Outlook (2016-2026)*||18% decline (photographic process workers and process machine operators, including digital photo technicians)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
Education requirements for digital photo technicians include a high school diploma and short-term, on-the-job training. However, completion of a certificate or associate's degree program in image manipulation or photography might be beneficial. Classes may include training in the use of Adobe Photoshop software, computer graphics and digital prepress technology.
Digital photo technicians need to be visually aware and have excellent computer skills. They should also be familiar with photo editing software, like Adobe Photoshop, Apple Aperture or HeliconFocus. Good math skills and a basic understanding of geometric ratios can be helpful.
Career and Salary Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has predicted a 18 percent decline in jobs for photographic process workers and process machine operators, including digital photo technicians, from 2016 to 2026. This may be partially due to the increased use of photo editing software by consumers and photographers. According to the BLS, the median annual wage for photographic process workers and process machine operators was $27,480 in May 2017. Many digital photo technicians are employed by hospital photo-imaging laboratories, scientific research establishments or mini-printing labs (www.bls.gov).
Alternate Career Options
Camera and Photographic Equipment Repairers
Technicians who fine-tune and repair cameras or commercial film and video equipment usually need an associate's degree in a relevant area to enter the field. They may also receive on-the-job training that takes place over an extended period of time. The BLS has projected a 2%, or as fast as average, growth in job opportunities for professionals employed in the field between 2016 and 2026. As of May 2017, camera and photographic equipment repairers were paid a median annual wage of $40,770 (www.bls.gov).
Prepress Technicians and Workers
Prepress technicians and workers, who are sometimes referred to as preflight technicians, use computer technology to format images and text and create print-ready pages. They may also use photographic procedures to produce offset, water-repellant printing plates. An associate's degree or other postsecondary credential is usually needed to enter the field, where employment opportunities nationwide are expected to decline by 20% from 2016 to 2026, according to the BLS. Mitigating factors include a decreasing demand for printed materials and an increased interest in digital publications. The BLS also reports that, as of May 2017, prepress technicians earned a median annual wage of $39,910 (www.bls.gov).