I was trained at length in photo retouching by a high-end photographer. I am looking to further a career in retouching and would like to ask what you look for in a retoucher: Is there a certification or classes you require before you hire a retoucher? Can you please offer any advice on training and how I might go about finding work in retouching?
When it comes to hiring an Image Retoucher, there are no specific classes or certification that you need to take. Much of what makes a good retoucher is nothing more than experience. Preferably, from a professional location, like a photography studio, design or advertising agency, or a commercial or wedding photographer. If your starting at the bottom, interning with a local place never hurts. Additionally, creating complex retouching for yourself at home gives you the opportunity to get better, without any judging eyes looking over your shoulder.
Watching tutorials like the ones you can find on here, at lynda.com or on youtube are only good if you want to learn about specific tools. Signing up for live classes are another good way, where you can ask questions as it goes along.
In the end, your ability to be hired comes down to your portfolio. What you have in it, and how you present it. I would recommend you setup a website, and show your best work, in a way that is easy for a visitor to see what you are capable of doing. If you don't have any HTML experience, you can setup a website from GreenGeeks.com, BlueHost.com or HostGator.com and they will have a simple "one click" WordPress installation that you can use to get yourself up and running. Even a simple Blogger.com Before and After images are better than nothing.
A few of the major players for online portfolios are Behance.net, Flickr, Smugmug, or Photoshelter. There are even more with 500px, Livebooks, 4mat, or even ModelMayhem. These are just some of them. I am sure there are many more options if you put some research into it.
With a good online portfolio, you can do research about which local photographers live in your area. Once you get their email addresses, you can send them links to your website, and keep in touch with them, whenever you add new stuff to your website. You can even pick up the phone and call. It never hurts.
Once you know what you are doing on a local level, you can go out and get the contact information of editors for various magazines, or decision makers at design and ad agencies. Go to the book store and find magazines that you feel your skills could really be a good fit for, and then contact the people listed in the credits. Of course, there is also the whole Twitter.com or Facebook.com thing, however I would likely pay more attention to LinkedIn.com, which is for professionals.
Like everything else, it is about self promotion, and you are the product. To start, pick one thing you are good at, like portraits, and then hammer away at promoting that.
Lastly, if you are just starting out, and have no professional contacts, or even anything good to show in a portfolio, you can always go to a freelance website like eLance.com or odesk.com and bid on jobs that way. In those cases, you are competing with low priced work from India. However, if your more interested in getting the work, just bid the minimum for everything, and eventually someone will hire you.
So, I hope this gives you some ideas on where you can look for work in this tough economy. But keep in mind that you are competing with hundreds, if not thousands, of people better at it than you. What is required is to split your time between learning how to do the job well, and promoting yourself as a worthwhile talent.