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Career and Education Opportunities for Photographic Processing Machine Operators in Chicago, Illinois

There is a wide variety of career and education opportunities for photographic processing machine operators in the Chicago, Illinois area. Currently, 1,950 people work as photographic processing machine operators in Illinois. This is expected to shrink by 52% to about 930 people by 2016. This is not quite as good as the nation as a whole, where employment opportunities for photographic processing machine operators are expected to shrink by about 24.3%. Photographic processing machine operators generally operate photographic processing machines, such as photographic printing machines, film developing machines, and mounting presses.

Income for photographic processing machine operators is about $10 per hour or $21,880 per year on average in Illinois. Nationally, their income is about $9 hourly or $20,360 yearly. Photographic processing machine operators earn less than people working in the category of Painting and Coating generally in Illinois and less than people in the Painting and Coating category nationally.

There is one school within twenty-five miles of Chicago where you can study to be a photographic processing machine operator, among 180 schools of higher education total in the Chicago area. The most common level of education for photographic processing machine operators is a high school diploma or GED. You can expect to spend only a short time studying to be a photographic processing machine operator if you already have a high school diploma.

CAREER DESCRIPTION: Photographic Processing Machine Operator

Photographic Processing Machine Operator video from the State of New Jersey Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development

In general, photographic processing machine operators operate photographic processing machines, such as photographic printing machines, film developing machines, and mounting presses.

Photographic processing machine operators remove completed work from equipment. They also insert processed negatives and prints into envelopes so that they can be returned to customers. Equally important, photographic processing machine operators have to sort film to be developed in line with criteria such as film type or completion date. They are often called upon to load circuit boards, racks or rolls of film and/or printing paper into processing or printing machines. They are expected to monitor equipment operation to uncover malfunctions. Finally, photographic processing machine operators fill tanks of processing machines with solutions such as developer, dyes, stop-baths and washes.

Every day, photographic processing machine operators are expected to be able to listen to and understand others in meetings. It is also important that they see details at a very fine level of focus.

It is important for photographic processing machine operators to clean and maintain photoprocessing equipment, using cleaning and rinsing solutions and ultrasonic equipment. They are often called upon to read work orders and examine negatives and film in order to establish machine settings and processing requirements. They also set and adjust machine controls, according to given requirements, type of operation, and material requirements. They are sometimes expected to maintain records such as quantities and types of processing completed, rate of materials usage, and customer charges. Somewhat less frequently, photographic processing machine operators are also expected to load circuit boards, racks or rolls of film and/or printing paper into processing or printing machines.

and inspect film or circuit patterns on photographic plates to identify any defects; discard faulty products or repair them, using cleaning solutions and hand tools. And finally, they sometimes have to start and operate machines to ready circuit boards and to expose, design and print film or plates.

Like many other jobs, photographic processing machine operators must be reliable and believe in cooperation and coordination.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Chicago include:

  • Auto Body Painter. Operate or tend painting machines to paint surfaces of transportation equipment, such as automobiles, buses, and airplanes.
  • Chemical Plant Operations Technician. Control or operate an entire chemical process or system of machines.
  • Decorative Painter. Paint, coat, or decorate articles, such as furniture, glass, or leather.
  • Laundry Operator. Operate or tend washing or dry-cleaning machines to wash or dry-clean industrial or household articles, such as cloth garments, suede, and carpets.
  • Prepress Technician. Set up and prepare material for printing presses.
  • Printing Press Machine Operator. Set up or operate various types of printing machines, such as offset, letterset, or gravure presses or screen printers to produce print on paper or other materials.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Photographic Processing Machine Operator Training

College of DuPage - Glen Ellyn, IL

College of DuPage, 425 Fawell Blvd., Glen Ellyn, IL 60137-6599. College of DuPage is a large college located in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 25,668 students. College of DuPage has a one to two year and an associate's degree program in Photographic and Film/Video Technology/Technician & Assistant which graduated five and eight students respectively in 2008.


Basic Flexographer (Level 1): The "Basic Flexographer" classification (Level I) has been developed to provide recognition of those who have rudimentary knowledge of the industry or are entry level personnel.

For more information, see the Flexographic Technical Association website.


Chicago, Illinois
Chicago, Illinois photo by Dschwen

Chicago is situated in Cook County, Illinois. It has a population of over 2,853,114, which has shrunk by 1.5% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in Chicago, 114, is well above the national average. New single-family homes in Chicago are valued at $200,500 on average, which is far less than the state average. In 2008, three hundred eighty-one new homes were built in Chicago, down from eight hundred seventy the previous year.

The three big industries for women in Chicago are health care, educational services, and professional, scientific, and technical services. For men, it is construction, professional, scientific, and technical services, and accommodation and food services. The average commute to work is about 35 minutes. More than 25.5% of Chicago residents have a bachelor's degree, which is lower than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 10.0%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Chicago is 11.6%, which is greater than Illinois's average of 10.5%.

The percentage of Chicago residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 57.6%, is more than both the national and state average. Southlawn United Methodist Church, Southern Missionary Baptist Church and Lakeside Evangelical Church are all churches located in Chicago. The most common religious groups are the Catholic Church, the Muslim Estimate and the Lutheran Church.

Chicago is home to the Five Crossings and the Wrigley Field as well as Monticello Park and Wilson Playground. Shopping centers in the area include Lincoln Village Shopping Center, Market Place at Six Corners Shopping Center and Kimbark Plaza Shopping Center. Visitors to Chicago can choose from Extended Stay America, Embassy Suites Lakefront and Cottage Inn for temporary stays in the area.