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Digital Imaging Technician

Introduction

Digital imaging technicians take images and change them according to a client's brief.

Also known as

  • Photographic Technician
  • Technician, Digital Imaging
  • Retoucher
  • Image Processor

Work Activities

Digital imaging technicians work for photofinishing companies and in film processing laboratories. Their role is to alter images according to the demands of clients.

As an imaging technician, your work can be varied. You could be:

  • scanning images ready for them to be altered
  • downloading images from the internet
  • searching for a particular image
  • restoring old photos using digital methods
  • resizing images
  • colour correcting images.
  • adding shadows to an image.

Clients may want parts of images removed, such as people or things in the background of shots. The digital technician will use software such as Photoshop to change how the image looks according the client's brief.

Many imaging technicians have cataloguing duties. This involves keeping their company's archive well organised, with files named correctly so they're easy to access. Duties may also include the backing up of images.

There are some imaging technicians still working with traditional photography. However, this is only a small part of the industry.

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:

  • An eye for detail, shape, colour and form.
  • IT skills. Experience of using both PCs and Macs is very useful.
  • To be well organised to cope with the varied workload.
  • Experience of using Photoshop software, or other software packages, such as Illustrator and InDesign.
  • Good communication skills.
  • To be able to work under pressure to meet deadlines.
  • Knowledge of photographic techniques and equipment.
  • Problem-solving skills.
  • To keep up to date with online technology.

It's a good idea to have some examples of photos you have retouched to put into a portfolio.

Pay and Opportunities

Pay

Pay rates for digital imaging technicians vary. The pay rates given below are approximate.

Digital imaging technicians earn in the range of £12,000 - £20,000 a year. Those with higher education qualifications and experience can earn up to £35,000.

Hours of work

Most imaging technicians work a standard a 37-hour week, Monday to Friday. Work outside those hours may be required at times, depending on deadlines.

What's happening in this work area?

Demand for digital imaging technicians is steady. However, this can be a popular industry to enter so competition for places can be strong.

Future skills needsThe following skills shortages have been identified:

  • Knowledge of relevant software packages.
  • Technical skills.
  • Sales and marketing.
  • Multi-skilling.

Where could I work?Digital imaging technicians work in various organisations. Here are some examples:

  • Image producers. This includes laboratories and minilabs
  • Picture libraries and agencies
  • Fashion companies
  • The retail side of photography

Opportunities for digital imaging technicians occur with employers in towns and cities throughout the UK.

Self-employment

There is a good degree of scope to work on a freelance basis in this career.

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

There are no set entry routes for this career. Some junior positions may only ask that you have some GCSEs at grades A*-C. However, there will be some vacancies that ask for A levels or even higher education qualifications. Relevant higher education courses titles include:

  • Photography and Digital Imaging
  • Photo Imaging
  • Photography, Video and Digital Imaging

Courses in a more general subject area, such as photography, will also be useful.

An Advanced Level Apprenticeship is also a great place to start.

Training

Some of your training will be on the job. There are many courses available for people wanting to make progress within this career. Courses related to Photoshop and other relevant software packages are available at most further education colleges in the UK.

Work Experience

Previous experience working in photography and IT woud be useful for this career. Also having experience of using Photoshop, or software packages, such as Illustrator, InDesign and Quark could also be helpful in becoming a Digital Imaging Technician.

Progression

In some cases, it may be possible to progress to laboratory management positions. There may also be opportunities to move into project management roles within organisations.

Many people in this industry set up their own business.

Qualifications

There are no set entry routes into this career. You may be able to enter with some GCSEs at grades A*-C. Subjects such as Art and Design, IT and, Design and Technology (Graphic Products) will be useful.

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.

For some positions, you may be asked for a A levels, or even higher education qualifications.

For a relevant foundation degree, HNC or HND, you'll usually need at least:

  • 1/2 A levels. Subjects like Art and Design, and IT are useful.
  • GCSEs at grade C or above in 4/5 subjects. Subjects like Art and Design, IT, Design and Technology (Graphic Products), Maths and English will be useful.

Alternatives to A levels include:

  • BTEC level 3 National Diplomas.
  • Advanced Level Apprenticeships.
  • The International Baccalaureate Diploma (IBD).
Many other qualifications are also accepted, so check prospectuses for more details.

For relevant degree courses, you'll usually need:

  • 2 or more A levels. Subjects like Art and Design, and IT are useful.
  • GCSEs at grade C or above in 4/5 subjects. Subjects like Art and Design, IT, Design and Technology (Graphic Products), Maths and English will be useful.

Some universities accept the Welsh Baccalaureate as equivalent to 1 A-level.

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.

Experience/skills

Photographic and IT skills will be useful. Experience of using Photoshop, or software packages, such as Illustrator, InDesign and Quark could also help your application.

Courses

If you don't have the qualifications needed to enter your chosen higher education course, a college or university Access course, such as Access to Art and Design, could be the way in. No formal qualifications are usually required, but you should check individual course details.

Universities and colleges of higher education (HE) will usually consider applications from candidates who don't meet their usual entry requirements, especially those with experience in arts, crafts or design. You should check the admissions policy of individual universities and HE colleges.

Courses in Photoshop and other relevant software packages are available at most further education colleges in the UK.

Relevant postgraduate qualifications are available.

Distance learning

There are many distance learning courses available in relevant subjects throughout the UK.

Further Information

Apprenticeships: Get In. Go Far

National Apprenticeship Service (NAS)

Tel: 0800 015 0400

Email: nationalhelpdesk@findapprenticeship.service.gov.uk

Website: www.apprenticeships.org.uk

Skills Development Scotland - Modern Apprenticeships

Tel: 0800 9178000

Email: info@skillsdevelopmentscotland.co.uk

Website: www.myworldofwork.co.uk/modernapprenticeships

ScreenSkills

Skills for the creative industries

Email: info@creativeskillset.org

Website: www.creativeskillset.org

Creative Choices

Publisher: Creative & Cultural Skills

Email: info@creative-choices.co.uk

Website: www.creative-choices.co.uk

Creative & Cultural Skills

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

Email: london@ccskills.org.uk

Website: ccskills.org.uk

Getting into Art & Design Courses

Author: James Burnett Publisher: Trotman

Website: trotman.co.uk/our-books/getting-into-art-and-design-courses/

Careers Wales - Welsh Apprenticeships

Tel: 0800 028 4844

Website: ams.careerswales.com/

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