Photographic technician

photo processing technician digital imaging technician print finisher

Career outlook for

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary

Currently employed in Scotland

Jobs forecast

This information is supplied by LMI For All, where data is currently available for Scotland.

What's it like?

You would print people’s photos from digital files on to photographic paper so they can frame them or put them in a photo album.

You’d also print images on to a wide variety of other items such as mouse mats, T-shirts, mugs and posters.

You could work as a photo processing technician for a high street mini-lab or a professional processing laboratory.

You would:

  • Copy customers' images on to a disc
  • Use computerised equipment to print customers' images on to photographic paper
  • Make adjustments to the prints where necessary to take lighting conditions or exposure into account
  • Check the quality of the prints
  • Put the prints into envelopes and label them for customers
  • Check and maintain equipment

A few professional labs may use traditional darkroom techniques for hand printing.

You’d need to make sure you follow the health and safety guidelines for working with chemicals.

In most high street labs you would also have retail duties. You could take payment from customers, sell camera equipment and assist customers to download their files using the system on the kiosk.

You could also work for a professional photofinishing lab or picture library as a digital imaging technician.

Working conditions


You would work between 37 and 40 hours a week, Monday to Friday, although shift work may be required in some larger laboratories.


Your working environment could be a photographic laboratory, darkroom or high street shop. You would wear protective gloves and clothing when handling chemicals. Print finishing can involve physical work, such as lifting large picture frames or rolls of laminate.

UK employment status



Self employed

Here are some of the skills that people in this job would be most likely to have:

  • Communicating with people
  • Helping customers
  • Accuracy
  • Working with your hands
  • Using computers
  • Being creative
  • Working with numbers
  • Paying attention to detail

Build your skills

Your skills can help you choose the career that’s right for you. You can build your skills through work, study or activities you do in your spare time.

To understand more, have a look at what are my skills?

Keep track of your skills in your account and find the jobs, opportunities and courses that suit you.

Click here to view / add your skills

Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.

Foundation Apprenticeships

Choosing a Foundation Apprenticeship as one of your subjects in S5 and S6 can help you get a head start with this type of job.

You'll get an SCQF level 6 qualification (the same level as a Higher) plus valuable work placement experience and skills you can't learn in a classroom.

Interested? Find out what's on offer at your school on


You do not always need formal qualifications however some employers may prefer qualifications at SCQF level 4/5.

You can enter some photography, digital media or similar National Certificate or National Qualification courses (SCQF level 5) with no formal qualifications but most courses require National 4/5 qualifications (SCQF level 6).

You can enter a Higher National Certificate (SCQF level 7) or Higher National Diploma courses (SCQF level 8) with National 4/5 qualifications and one to two Highers or equivalent qualifications.

To enter a degree (SCFQ level 9/10) requires National 5 qualifications and a minimum of four Highers or a relevant HNC/HND.

Useful subjects

  • English (required by many courses and employers)
  • Maths (required by many courses and employers) 
  • Sciences (required by many courses and employers) 
  • Art and design
  • Photography
  • Media
  • ICT

You will also need

A portfolio of your work when applying to courses and to jobs. 

Helpful to have

  • Experience of photography work.
  • Qualifications that show photographic, creative, digital and visual communication skills such as Skills for Work Creative Digital Media (SCFQ level 4) or Creative Industries (SCFQ level 5).
  • Work-based qualifications such as a Diploma in Creative and Digital Media (SCQF level 7).

Most photography is digitalised but if you are interested in traditional processing science and laboratory experience such as Skills for Work Laboratory Science ( SCFQ level 5) may be of value.