I am thinking about seeking employment in the area of photo retouching and image processing. What education or certifications would be good to help make this happen? And what online resources are available to get them? I have a fair amount of experience retouching my own photos with Photoshop and a B.S. in Electrical Engineering.
Who is your target market?
You generally only need a portfolio of work that is what your clients are looking for, and a good reputation for turnaround time.
Nobody cares about certifications. They care that you can deliver usable edits on time.
Certifications depend on your level of confidence when approaching clients. I have observed the following when attending first meetings as a professional retoucher:
Clients like to talk about their Company, their vision, their pain-points and what they need from a photographer/Photo Retoucher (some of these points relate to non-business Customers too)
Once they have provided their information, they like to better understand me and at this point, along with any hard copy Portfolio, I find it very reassuring to also show them any relevant qualifications, certifications and awards that I have achieved.
I find this provides a level of confidence within me, that perhaps I may otherwise be lacking.
Certifications demonstrate the professionalism, dedication and commitment to
becoming a skilled and qualified “Paid Professional”
Clients generally seem to appreciate this level of commitment and, at times, this has proven invaluable to gaining a new client.
As the business has grown, and with the added advantage of gaining referrals from existing customers, it has become less important to continually present qualifications. However, I say with hand on heart, it has helped me a great deal when I needed to go out and gain new customers.
My advise would be to look at all learning options available.
Start off with a simple 12 week online Course. You will gain a certificate and this becomes a part of “About you” in your portfolio.
There are various professional Courses available and anyone of these will help you become more marketable.
You can also enroll in a Degree Program on a part time basis. What you learn in Theory and Practical Workshops will compliment all your current knowledge and experience and turn you into a truly qualified and skilled professional.
To summarize: The more commitment an individual puts in, the more marketable they become. Qualifications and certifications are not a necessity like the ability to demonstrate skills in your work, but are rather an added bonus that the client may just be looking for to maximise their "Return on Investment".
As @Lumigraphics said, only your portfolio is important. Though nobody cares about certifications, you should. That is if they are into certifications, it may be a sign of too much bureaucracy.