Printing-Machine Operators career information including salary, duties, growth, degrees, training work environment, and more. Updated with latest data.

Printing-Machine Operators Career Description

Printing Machine Operators - often called Press Operators – prepare, operate and look after printing presses. These could be traditional presses where a plate carries the final image and transfers this to the material, or those using more modern digital, laser, electrostatic and ink-jet printing methods. Printing Machine Operator duties vary according to the size of the operation and the types of presses. In a small operation, there might be a single operator, whereas there would be groups of operators in a larger operation such as a newspaper. The Printing Machine Operator will be responsible for preparing and starting the printing press, monitoring the operation of the press, and making necessary adjustments. Periodic examination ensures final quality. In most operations, the Printing Machine Operator will also be expected to maintain the press. More modern digital printing methods further automate this process. The working environment of the Printing Machine Operator is both physically and mentally demanding, and is sometimes tedious with tight deadlines. As some presses run continually, Printing Machine Operators often work long, unsociable hours, particularly when working for a newspaper. Printing Machine Operator skills should include mechanical aptitude, good vision, and attention to detail, combined with oral and written communication skills. Mathematical skills are necessary to work out parameters or quantities relating to the print job. A familiarity with electronics and computers is also required.

Work Environment

The operator will be standing for long periods and be expected to react quickly to make adjustments to avoid waste as the presses operate at high speed. Press rooms are noisy, so the wearing of ear protection is often necessary. The presses themselves can be dangerous when in operation, but this risk has decreased in recent years with the introduction of computerized presses that allow operators to make adjustments from a control panel.

Employment Opportunities

A large proportion of Printing Machine Operators jobs are with paper manufacturers and newspaper publishers. Additional Printing Machine Operator opportunities can be found in advertising agencies, employment services firms, and colleges. Although jobs are available throughout the U.S., large numbers of jobs are concentrated in metropolitan areas. Although there is expected to be a decline in the number of Printing Machine Operators due to technological advancement and outsourcing, prospects remain good because there are expected to be a large number of retirements in the industry.

How much does a Printing Machine Operator make - Printing Machine Operator Salary and Wages

The Printing Machine Operator salary range is generally between $48,000 and $61,000, depending on experience and skills. Median per-hour wage in the first 1-4 years in the career fall between $10.86-$14.96. With 5-9 years in the field, that increases to $12.36-$17.04. Between 10-19 years, workers can expect to earn $13.99-$19.39 hourly, and with 20+ years in the career, they can see number that reach $15.21-$20.47. Bonuses stay under $800 per year and start from $200.

How to become a Printing Machine Operator

Education and Training

Most Printing Machine Operators are trained on the job, and apprenticeships are becoming less prevalent. Printing Machine Operator qualifications are achieved through formal post-secondary training offered by technical and trade schools, community colleges, and universities are increasingly popular. Printing Machine Operator courses at post-secondary level in printing provide what employers are seeking in an entry-level worker. Some post-secondary school programs with two years of study will award an associate Printing Machine Operator degree. Opportunities for advancement are varied. Formal certification helps advance a career in printing. Promotion to pressroom supervisor with the responsibility for an entire press crew is another career path.

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