Printmaking Education and Career Information

Learn about the education and preparation needed for a career in printmaking. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs and job duties to find out if this is the career for you.

Printmaking is an art form whereby reproductions are created through the use of different press equipment, such as silk screen printing or relief printing. While formal education is not necessary to work in this field, pursuing an associate's or bachelor's degree could help to provide related knowledge, expertise and skill. An educated printmaker could work as an artist, printing press operator, or in the prepress or finishing stages of printing.

Essential Information

Printmaking is the process of reproducing original works of art on a different medium, such as film, paper or wood. While not necessarily required for employment, aspiring printmakers can access formal education through undergraduate certificate and degree programs at art institutions, as well as community colleges and universities.

Printing workers typically work in prepress, press or binding and finishing stages within the printing industry. Typically, printing workers are familiar with multiple printing machines, though some print shops or jobs offer opportunities for specialization.

Required Education None required; certificate and degree programs available
Other Requirements Significant on-the-job training
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) -12% for printing press operators
Median Salary (2015) $35,240 for printing press operators

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Printmaking Education Requirements

The art of printmaking has varying levels of formal and informal education. Many universities and colleges offer art and fine art certificate programs and degrees at associate and bachelor's levels. No academic standard is required for the profession, though college-level training offers expert instruction and hands-on experience.

Students may choose to concentrate a graphic arts, design or media arts degree program in printmaking. Common coursework for these fine art fields includes drawing, painting, art history, sculpture and modern art. Printmaking students also study specific techniques to the craft, including:

  • Engraving
  • Typesetting
  • Lithography
  • Silk screening
  • Relief printmaking

While 2- and 4-year degree programs typically include general course topics outside of art, many certificate programs and those offered through art institutes offer more concentrated curricula and additional emphasis on studio work.

Career Information for Printmakers

Printmaking is typically a pre-press or production profession within the printing industry. Duties may include art setup, graphic manipulation and color matching. Printmakers are often familiar with more than one type of printing machine, though they may find occasion to specialize in specific equipment for specialty print shops or jobs. Those who have knowledge and experience in equipment maintenance and repair may find increased employment opportunities.

In addition to printmaking, workers may be required to utilize cutting, sorting and packaging equipment or perform these tasks manually. Some administrative work and computer knowledge may be necessary for job tracking and other office processes.

Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), overall employment in the printing field was anticipated to decrease between 2014 and 2024 due to new technologies and automated equipment, with a 12% reduction in press operator positions. Consolidation within the industry may induce employers to seek printmakers with additional skills, such as inventory control, sales, graphic design and shipping. The BLS reported that, from 2014 to 2024, print binding and finishing workers were expected to see a 14% percent decrease in employment, and prepress technicians and workers were expected to see a 25% decrease in employment.

As of May 2015, the BLS reported that printing press operators earned a median annual salary of $35,240. Meanwhile, in the same time period, the BLS reported that print binding and finishing workers earned a median annual salary of $30,260, and prepress technicians and workers earned a median annual salary of $38,270.

Printmaking involves making reproductions of original art works using different print making technology or equipment. An aspiring printmaker could pursue an associate's degree, bachelor's degree or certificate from a college or art school. Training in these programs may involve courses in different methods of printing, art history, design, drawing and other related topics.

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