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Pre-press operator Pre-press technician

Pre-press operators carry out a range of tasks in the printing industry, like getting artwork from a client and supplying the printing plates used on a press.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £16,000 to £30,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 35 to 40 per week

1. Entry requirements

You'll need A levels, or GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) including English and maths. A qualification in a subject like graphic design, graphic communication or art and design could help you get into this career.

You'll need colour-normal vision.

You'll need a collection of your work (a portfolio) to show employers.

You could get into this job through an apprenticeship.

2. Skills required

You'll need:

  • creativity and an eye for detail
  • the ability to work quickly and accurately under pressure
  • IT skills to use desktop publishing and graphics software

3. What you'll do

Your day-to-day tasks could include:

  • using desktop publishing software and graphics software to create artwork
  • scanning and retouching images
  • checking a whole document for accuracy (proofreading)
  • preparing artwork for transfer to film
  • transferring the final image from film onto printing plates, using an imagesetter (known as platemaking)

4. Salary

Starter: £16,000 to £20,000

Experienced: £22,000 to £25,000

Highly Experienced: Up to £30,000

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You'll usually work 37 to 40 hours a week, possibly in shifts, including nights.

You may work at a printing firm or in a specialised pre-press or design company.

If you work for a printer, you may have to wear protective clothing when handling inks or cleaning and maintaining machinery.

6. Career path and progression

With training and experience, you could become a pre-press manager or move into print administration jobs like estimator or production controller.

Most employers in the pre-press industry will offer training, either through NVQs at a local college or short courses offered by the British Printing Industries Federation.

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Last updated: 18 August 2017