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Digital Photo Technician Career Info

Digital photo technicians reformat and manipulate the color and size of digital images using specialized computer software. Read on for more information about education and training requirements, employment prospects and earnings for digital photo technicians.

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Career Definition

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.

How to Become a Digital Photo Technician

Required Education

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.

Skills Required

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 little or no change in job growth for photographic process workers and process machine operators, including digital photo technicians, from 2012 to 2022. This may be partially due to the increased use of photo editing software by consumers and photographers. According to BLS figures, the median annual wage for photographic process workers and process machine operators was $23,120 in May 2012. 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 3%, or slower-than-average, growth in job opportunities for professionals employed in the field between 2012 and 2022. As of May 2012, camera and photographic equipment repairers were paid median annual wages of $37,980 (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 degree or other postsecondary credential is usually needed to enter the field, where employment opportunities nationwide are expected to decline by 5% from 2012 to 2022, 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 2012, prepress technicians earned median annual wages of $37,260 (www.bls.gov).

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