What Is a Pressman?

Explore a career as a pressman. Read about education and training requirements, salary and the job outlook to see if this is the right career choice for you. Schools offering Visual Communication degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a Pressman Do?

Pressmen oversee the operation and maintenance of printing presses. As such, they ensure that hard copies of newspapers, magazines, brochures and other printed materials are created in a seamless, error-free fashion. One of a pressman's primary responsibilities involves creating a sample copy (or proof) of the printed material that can be evaluated and approved by a supervisor. Once the proof is deemed appropriate, the pressman will facilitate a print run and continually inspect the equipment for proper function during the copying of the pages. As technology has progressed, related software proficiency has become increasingly important, as has the ability to perform basic repairs on faulty equipment. The following chart gives you an overview of what you need to know for this career.

Degree Required High school diploma
Diploma and press operator certificate from a vocational high school helpful
Education Field of Study Graphic arts, printing technology
Training Moderate on-the-job training; apprenticeships offered for some jobs
Key Skills Ability to troubleshot production problems; quality control skills; ability to meet deadlines; teamwork
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028) 12% decline (for all printing press operators)*
Average Salary (2018) $38,470 (for all printing press operators)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Education and Training Might I Need As a Pressman?

You might obtain a position as a pressman with no formal postsecondary education; however, some employers will hire you as an entry-level technician and will provide you with on-the-job training. This will prepare you to step into the role of a pressman or printing machine operator. You might also complete an apprenticeship program offered by a printing company.

If you are interested in completing a form of postsecondary education, you might consider enrolling in an associate's degree program in graphic arts technology at a trade school or community college. Such programs can provide you with the practical knowledge and vocational skills necessary to operate printing plates and oversee a printing press. They can also provide you with an educational background in typography, digital arts, rendering and graphic design.

What Are the Job Duties of a Pressman?

A pressman is a colloquial term for a printing machine operator. When you work as a pressman, your primary job duties include operating and maintaining printing presses. Printing presses are machines used in the physical production of newspapers, books, magazines and other printed materials.

Your specific job duties as a pressman might vary depending upon the type of machine you operate. You may be required to use traditional plate and roller methods to transfer images and texts from a machine to pieces of paper. You might also oversee a plateless printing machine that uses forms of electronic or digital printing. Regardless of the type of equipment used, your duties will also include communicating with a prepress technician, preparing equipment for the printing process, and overseeing the printing process to make sure there are no errors.

What Salary Could I Expect to Make?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were nearly 173,470 pressmen working in the United States in 2018 (www.bls.gov). The average salary in the profession in that year was $38,470. Some of the highest paying industries for printing press operators included federal agencies; professional and political organizations; and the local government.

What Is the Outlook for the Career?

The BLS predicts that employment for printing press operators will decline by nearly 12% between 2018 and 2028. New technologies in the field will require fewer manual operators in order to run successfully. However, job opportunities are predicted to be favorable for individuals who have some experience and skills in the field.

What Are Some Related Alternative Occupations?

At least two other occupations in the printing industry require similar skills and a similar level of vocational training. Print binding and finishing workers help put the final touches on printed material, engaging in either handcrafted binding of books and related materials or utilizing machinery for these purposes. Prepress technicians and workers, on the other hand, perform much of the preparatory work in readying materials for printing, such as typesetting and printing plate production. Outside of the printing environment, a production operator has similar responsibilities in supervising and monitoring equipment for manufacturing settings.

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