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Job Photographs

  • A woman is standing next to a large machine.  She is loading a film into the top of it.

    Loading film into the processing machine.

  • A woman is sitting in a processing laboratory.  She is using a computer.

    Adjusting a film's colours and density.

  • A woman is standing by a workbench.  She is placing photographs into a paper wallet.

    Placing prints into a wallet ready for the customer.

  • A woman is standing behind a shop counter.  She is taking a film canister from a woman, who is standing in front of the counter.

    As well as all their other duties, processing assistants also have to serve customers.

  • A woman is standing in a room, next to a workbench.  She is opening a small film canister.

    Photographic processing assistants need to take care when taking a film out of its canister.

  • A woman, wearing gloves, is removing a reel of film from a large machine.

    Taking finished photos from the printing machine.

  • A woman is standing by a large machine.  She is filling various trays inside the machine, with paper.

    Reloading the printing machine with photographic paper.

  • A woman is standing in a shop.  She is using a touch sensitive computer screen.

    Using a computer to process a customer's digital photographs.

Photographic Processing Assistant


Photographic processing assistants work in photofinishing laboratories or specialist shops. Their work involves processing digital images.

Video: - Andrea: Photographic Processing Assistant

Work Activities

Photographic processing assistants work in the photofinishing industry. They might work in a laboratory or in a specialist photo processing shop.

Photographic processing assistants use high-tech machinery to process the film. Some high street shops offer a similar service using mini-processing and printing equipment.

In professional developing and printing laboratories, photographic assistants deal with the work of professional photographers and business organisations. This work requires a higher standard of finishing and printing.

Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.

Personal Qualities and Skills

To do this job well, you'll need:

  • To be good at dealing with customers.
  • Good eyesight. Your colour vision may be tested.
  • To be confident using computers, as you'll have to use things like electronic imaging and video scanning.
  • Patience and concentration, especially when doing repetitive tasks.
  • To pay close attention to detail at all times.

Pay and Opportunities


The pay rates given below are approximate.

Photographic processing assistants earn in the range of around £16,000 - £19,000, rising to around £20,000 a year.

Hours of work

Photographic processing assistants usually work a basic 37-hour week, Monday to Friday. In some firms, shift work is required.

What's happening in this area

There is no shortage of people wanting to work in most areas of the photo imaging industry. Employers report that vacancies are often quickly filled. With this in mind, it is fair to say that competition for posts can be quite strong.

Where could I work?

Employers are firms in the photofinishing industry. These range from large, automated film/digital processing companies to photographic laboratories and specialist shops.

Opportunities for photographic processing assistants occur with employers in towns and cities throughout the UK.

Where are vacancies advertised?

Vacancies are advertised on all the major job boards, on Universal Jobmatch, and at Jobcentre Plus.

Entry Routes and Training

Entry routes

There are no set entry routes into this career. An interest in photography and some GCSE passes would be useful.

An Advanced Level Apprenticeship is also great place to start.


Your training will be provided mainly on-the-job.

Edexcel (BTEC) offers a Level 3 National Certificate and a Level 3 National Diploma in Art and Design (Photography).

City & Guilds offers a number of relevant courses, for example:

  • A Certificate in Photography at level 1
  • A Certificate in Working in the Photo Imaging Industry at level 2.


Some processing assistants move into photographic technician positions. Some may move into sales positions in other areas of business.


The qualifications you need vary between employers but some GCSEs are useful.

To enter a BTEC Level 3 National Certificate or Level 3 National Diploma, you will need a minimum of:

  • A BTEC Level 2 First Certificate or Diploma in a related subject
  • At least 4 GCSEs at grade C or above.

Relevant work experience is also considered as a route on to the courses mentioned.

For entry to level 1 courses, you won't usually need any formal qualifications. However, you will need to show that you are capable of completing the course you're aiming for.

For entry to City & Guilds' courses, you'll usually need:

  • For level 2 - GCSEs (or equivalent) at grades D-G, or a level 1 qualification.
  • For level 3 - GCSEs (or equivalent) at grades A*-C, or a level 2 qualification.

To get onto an Advanced Level Apprenticeship, you'll usually need 5 GCSEs at grade C or above, including English and Maths, or to have completed an Intermediate Level Apprenticeship.

Adult Opportunities

Age limits

It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.


Some people enter via Intermediate Level Apprenticeships. Various course titles would be relevant, for example, Retail.


Skills gained using machinery or through other industrial process work are helpful.

Further Information

Apprenticeships: Get In. Go Far

National Apprenticeship Service (NAS)

Tel: 0800 015 0400



Skills Development Scotland - Modern Apprenticeships

Tel: 0800 9178000



City & Guilds

Address: 1 Giltspur Street, London EC1A 9DD

Tel: 020 7294 2468




Skills for the creative industries



Creative Choices

Publisher: Creative & Cultural Skills



Creative & Cultural Skills

Skills for craft, cultural heritage, design, literature, music, performing arts and visual arts




Tel: 0845 6180440


Careers Wales - Welsh Apprenticeships

Tel: 0800 028 4844


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