What Is Printing Management?

Printing management combines traditional printing techniques with the latest technologies to help businesses, groups, and individuals convey a message using many types of media. If you're looking for a career that combines creative energy, attention to detail, and innovation, you might consider printing management. Schools offering Visual Communication degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Field Defined

Traditional printing, as a field, involves affixing images and text made of colored ink to glass, metal, paper, fabric, and other materials. While you may think of printing as an industry that produces magazines, books, and newspapers, printers also produce order forms, packaging, and T-shirts.

The printing industry continues to change rapidly, with new technologies affecting the efficiency of printing practices. Although the printing industry still uses presses and bindery equipment, many of these traditional tools have been automated. Digital design tools have also changed how printing professionals produce design layouts, select colors, and operate printing equipment.

The printing industry is typically divided into various categories. The three specialties in greatest demand are lithography, plateless processes, and quick printing.

Important Facts About Printing Management

Median Salary (2015) $54,380 (for print production managers)
Work Environment Full-time, sometimes under deadline and on weekends/holidays
Similar Careers Desktop publisher, metal/plastic machine worker, graphic designer, animator
Key Skills Computer, mechanical, and math skills

Source: PayScale.com

Lithography

Lithography is a printing process that uses smooth metal plates for printing. This type of printing can be broadly applied to a variety of printing needs. Many computer-aided printing firms focus on lithography.

Plateless Processes

Firms that focus on personalized items or short run productions typically use plateless processes, which are also called non-impact processes. Included in this group are inkjet printing and electrostatic printing.

Quick Printing

Another option for short run firms is quick printing, which uses several methods to meet the tight deadlines of printing clients. These firms often provide additional services, including selling office supplies or offering shipping services.

Educational Options

While some schools offer degrees in printing management, most refer to their programs as graphic communications or graphic design. Although you may obtain employment without a degree, many employers prefer applicants with at least an associate's degree in one of the three fields listed above.

Associate's Degree

This program prepares you for printing industry jobs that use traditional printing techniques, while also training you in the latest technologies in the field. Typical courses include printing quality control, production planning, and printing process management. After completing the program, you should be ready to operate presses and bindery equipment while also using computer design tools.

Bachelor's Degree

Like an associate's degree program, a bachelor's program combines instruction in traditional techniques and equipment with innovations and new technologies. You may have the option of taking classes in lithographic techniques, post press, and commercial printing applications. This program may also give you instruction in budgeting, cost analysis, and managing employees.

Master's Degree

A graduate program trains you to manage graphics and printing businesses. Courses include accounting and business management, as well as advanced printing technologies, 3-D graphics and plant supervision. If you earn a master's degree, you'll be positioned to manage and direct the work of other printing operators and graphic artists.

Career Opportunities

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), the employment of printing workers, in general, is expected to decline by about five percent from 2012-2022, due to improvements in technology and a decrease in demand for traditional printing products. However, some of the decline will be slowed as older workers retire. If you can operate the traditional presses and are equally comfortable with desktop publishing and graphic design products, you'll be best positioned for a career in the field. Some job titles commonly used in the printing industry include:

  • Platemaker
  • Finishing specialist
  • Scanner operator
  • Layout artist
  • Art director

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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