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Laboratory Manager

Photo Imaging
Personality type:
Photographic Laboratories and Image Producers

The lowdown

  • Organising and controlling all aspects of the work of a photographic laboratory
  • Managing the laboratory staff to ensure excellent customer service and that deadlines are met
  • Contributing to the profitable running of the business

Is this role right for me?

To do this role, you will need to:

  • have excellent colour vision and have an excellent eye for colour, contrast, density and other graphic effects
  • have excellent all-round knowledge of all the equipment and processes used in the laboratory
  • have strong skills in IT and image-manipulation and image-management software in particular
  • have good analytical and problem-solving skills
  • pay close attention to detail
  • have strong planning and time management skills
  • be able to motivate staff
  • be able to delegate work effectively
  • have excellent communication skills, including negotiation skills
  • have excellent customer service skills
  • be able to understand graphs and accounts
  • be able to maintain accurate records
  • be able to put together schedules and reports

What does a Laboratory Manager do?

The Laboratory Manager organises and controls all aspects of the photographic laboratory environment. They supervise general workflow, professional customer service and the maintenance of equipment. They oversee quality control, pricing, purchasing and the day-to-day running of the lab. They must also keep up to date with the latest technological developments to ensure that the laboratory stays ahead of the competition.

The Laboratory Manager acts as an interface between the clients and the technical staff. They must anticipate and resolve potential problems and production bottlenecks to ensure the laboratory runs smoothly.

This is a multi-tasking role that requires strong leadership skills. The Laboratory Manager must be able to assess situations – such as breakdowns, bottlenecks or supply problems – under pressure of deadlines, finding solutions and taking decisive action. They must set up clear communication channels, and develop strategies to deal with a fast-moving and sometimes unpredictable workload.

The Laboratory Manager must have excellent customer service skills in order to liaise with photographers and designers, and to negotiate charges and deadlines.

The Laboratory Manager requires strong technical skills in order to test and calibrate equipment to ensure the best results, and to monitor the chemicals in equipment. In relation to this, they are responsible for making risk assessments of the laboratory and ensuring that the company's Health & Safety policy is observed. They also need to perform quality tests to ensure the company meets its quality assurance standards.

What might I earn?

Laboratory Managers often work long hours. However, they are usually fairly well paid and enjoy the benefits of a regular salary, holidays and a company pension.

Will I need a qualification?

There are no set qualifications required to be a Laboratory Manager. Your typical route in would be to progress to the position from a technical position within the laboratory.

Employers would usually expect you to have excellent technical and managerial skills, with extensive experience of professional laboratory and/or retail minilab work.

Taking a management training qualification such as an NVQ/SVQ in Management may be useful. However, employers would usually place more value on you having thorough photographic laboratory experience and knowledge.

What’s the best route in?

Your most likely route into this role would be from a technical position such as Machine Print Operator and Digital Imaging Specialist. This route would provide you with good background knowledge and experience of the equipment, systems and processes involved.

Where might the role take me?

In larger laboratories, you could progress from being a Laboratory Manager into a more specialised management, marketing or product development position.


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