Printing Pressman: Salary and Career Facts

Explore the career requirements for printing pressmen. Get the facts about training requirements, job outlook and salary to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Visual Communication degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Printing Pressman?

Printing pressmen operate complex machinery and work under tight deadlines. While you might have different duties according to what type of press you run, general responsibilities include the operation, maintenance and printing of the machine. This may include adjusting press settings, fixing ink distribution, cleaning components of the press and making press plates. You may also mix ink and make sure the press is stocked with ink and paper. Read on for typical training requirements and career information.

Training Required On-the-job training; postsecondary programs are available
Key Skills Computer literacy, mechanical, problem-solving, math
Projected Job Outlook (2014-2024)-13% (for all printing press operators)*
Median Salary (2015) $35,240 (for all printing press operators)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Do I Need to Go to School to Become a Printing Pressman?

Most of your training takes place on the job, but having a certificate in print operation or an apprenticeship may fair better in the job market, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). As a beginner operator, you might work as an assistant to an experienced or lead press operator, and your duties will likely include cleaning the machine and loading and unloading materials. Safety is almost always included in training, and you'll gradually learn the various functions of a given press until you're qualified to operate it. Most printing companies also provide periodic training for press operators regardless of experience level.

If I Do Go To School What Classes Will I Take?

Print production certificate programs typically include hands on training as well as courses that explain general principles behind printing. Most programs discuss traditional presses like flexography and letterpress as well as new types of presses including digital, ink jet and electrostatic presses.

Some programs may facilitate internships or apprenticeships and help you develop a portfolio of printed material you can use when applying for jobs. The following are classes that might be included in the curriculum:

  • Graphic publishing
  • Digital page layout
  • Press operation
  • Graphics arts business practices
  • Web publishing
  • Adobe Illustrator

What is the Job Outlook?

The BLS reported that employment growth in this profession was expected to decline 13% between 2014 and 2024 because of the shift in digital formats and the use of page layout software by non-printing professionals.

What Is the Pay Like?

As of May 2015, the median annual salary for printing press operators was $35,240 per the BLS. The highest paying industries in this field were the federal government; aerospace product and parts manufacturing; and boiler, tank, and shipping container manufacturing.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Print binding and finishing workers have a closely related career, not only because they are part of the publishing industry, but also because they use industrial equipment to cut and bind publications. Drilling and boring machine tool setters have another career that uses industrial machinery similar to presses to make products. These careers only require a high school diploma or its equivalent at minimum, with on-the-job training being the primary way employees learn the trade.

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