To become a retoucher, you should typically have a strong background and understanding of various photographic concepts, the ability to retouch photos, and contacts within the photography industry. While you do not necessarily need to have an educational background in photography or art, since the actual skills you have is often more important, developing these skills at a college or art school may be easier. You should develop a portfolio using any photographs you can legally use and begin networking whenever possible. Establishing contacts and building a name for yourself within the photo industry is also crucial for you to become a retoucher.
One of the best ways to begin your efforts to become a retoucher is to become skilled and knowledgeable regarding photography. This does not necessarily mean you need to go to art school or take photography classes in college, though these can certainly help. You should come to understand different aspects of composition, various lighting techniques, and the components of a photograph that make it successful. Even though you may not need to actually be a photographer to become a retoucher, the photographers you work with are going to expect that you understand the concepts behind good photography.
Once you understand photography, you should develop the retouching skills you need to become a retoucher. This typically means you need to learn to use computer software commonly used for photo retouching. While you can learn this on your own, this software is usually quite expensive and you may be better rewarded investing in some photography or graphic design classes that will teach you to use such software. Having a degree can be helpful, but being able to demonstrate your abilities in retouching photographs is often more important to become a retoucher. You can typically do this by creating a strong and impressive portfolio of your retouching work.
After you have the skills and knowledge you need to become a retoucher, then you should begin developing contacts within the photography industry. There are a number of websites and associations you can join to find photographers and develop a network within the industry. This can help you if you want to work freelance, since finding clients is often one of the hardest parts of successfully freelancing. You can begin networking even while you are working on refining your abilities to become a retoucher, though this may be easier once you have some work in a portfolio to show to others.