Become a Printing Pressman: Education and Career Roadmap

Find out how to become a printing pressman. Explore the education and training requirements, and learn about the experience you'll need to advance your career as a printing pressman.

Should I Become a Printing Pressman?

Printing pressmen, also known as printing press operators, oversee the printing press process, which includes preparing, maintaining and operating printing machinery. They may work with offset printing equipment or use plateless methods, such as digital or ink-jet printing. Printing pressmen need physical stamina to lift and carry materials; they may also spend most of their shift on their feet, operating machinery. Evening and weekend work may sometimes be required.

Career Requirements

Degree Level High school diploma or equivalent
Degree Field Postsecondary options include graphic communications, graphic design or a related field
Experience No experience is required for entry-level positions
Key Skills Mathematics, communication and mechanical skills; keen attention to detail; computer skills; ability with a variety of printing equipment
Additional Requirements Physical strength, ability to tolerate noisy working environments
Salary (2014) $35,100 (median yearly salary)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, O*Net OnLine.

Step 1: Get a High School Diploma

No strict guidelines exist for entering this career; however, the minimum educational requirement is typically a high school diploma. On-the-job training is common in the field.

Step 2: Consider Postsecondary Education

Some aspiring printing pressmen choose to receive training through postsecondary institutions. Some community colleges and technical schools offer associate's degree programs in graphics communications and related fields. These programs usually take two years to complete and prepare students for entry-level positions in print machine operation. Curricula focus on various aspects of the printing process through courses in press technology, production management, publication design, product finishing, printing techniques and typography.

Success Tips:

  • Pursue internship opportunities. Some postsecondary programs offer work experience or internship programs, which can be valuable to aspiring printing press operators. Internships allow students to learn how to use the common printing presses and equipment in a real-world setting. Job applicants with hands-on experience on their resumes may be more attractive prospects to employers in the printing field.
  • Take computer courses. Printing pressmen use a number of computer programs in their work, including word processing programs, graphic imaging software, desktop publishing software and print management system software. With the movement of printing technology towards digital methods, it is essential for aspiring printing press operators to possess familiarity and confidence with the most commonly used software programs. Coursework focused on sharpening skills in software such as Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop may be available to students.

Step 3: Find an Entry-Level Position

After securing employment, entry-level printing press operators go on to receive necessary on-the-job training in which they fulfill basic tasks, such as loading and unloading paper and cleaning printing presses. As they gain experience and become familiar with the printing process, press operators are allowed to operate machinery.

Step 4: Gain Experience to Advance Career

While printing press operators may begin by working with only one type of machinery, they may go on to operate a variety of presses as their careers continue. Additionally, printing press operators may have to take further training during their careers to keep up with advances in printing technology.

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