Print production specialists are responsible for coordinating the entire printing process, from preparing all materials and equipment, to the physical printing of the media to ready it for distribution. An eye for detail and technical aptitude are favorable qualities for this type of work. Certificate and associate's degree programs can provide training in this field. Most programs focus on digital technology, teaching students about graphic design software and the offset printing process. To gain entry to these programs, students will need to be in possession of a high school diploma or GED. Applicants with prior art and computer-related course work may receive preferential consideration.
Certificate in Print Production
Many certificate programs in print production acquaint students with traditional methods, but primarily emphasize modern digital approaches to printing. Courses touch on physical media used in printing, the process of designing graphics for print and the most popular software applications for design and printing. Students learn through a combination of classroom instruction and active participation in projects. A certificate may be completed in less than a year as they typically only focus on print production without requiring general education courses. Although some programs may have electives, certificate programs are usually limited to 5-8 required courses. Possible course titles or topics covered include:
- Paper and ink technology
- Digital printing
- Adobe Photoshop
- Adobe Illustrator
- Adobe Acrobat
- Flexographic printing technology
Associate's Degree in Print Production
An associate's degree in print production provides training in both traditional and digital methods of preparing textual and graphic content for printing. Course content also explores design techniques, packaging and printing technology. Associate's degree programs call for two years of study, including general education courses in science, math and communications. Many associate's degree programs offer credit for an internship in the printing industry. The follow topics are likely to be covered in print production-related courses:
- Typography basics
- Color theory
- Digital page layout fundamentals
- Offset presses introduction
- Printing methods survey
Popular Career Options
Earning a certificate may enhance career prospects in the printing industry. Graduates can seek positions as:
- Prepress technicians
- Color photo reproduction technicians
- Customer service reps
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Earning an associate's degree in print production qualifies graduates for entry-level positions with printing companies, bindery shops, prepress shops and service bureaus. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects employment for printing press operators will decrease 12% percent from 2014-2024, with prepress technicians and workers seeing an even steeper decline of 25%. Increased automation in the industry and business consolidations are expected to account for the decline. As of May 2015, the BLS reports that print binding and finishing workers earn a median annual income of $30,260, while printing press operators earn $35,240 and prepress technicians bring in a median salary of $38,270 per year.
Continuing Education Information
In many cases, credits earned in a certificate program can be applied toward an associate's degree. A number schools offer both certificate and associate's programs in which the content of one is a subset of the other.
Because print production associate's degree programs include a significant amount of material about design, degree holders can consider applying their credits towards a bachelor's degree in graphic design. Several schools host transfer programs.
A print production certificate or associate's degree program gives students an overview of traditional and modern approaches to printing, with an emphasis on the software programs and technologies used today.