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Career profile Printing Press Operator

Also known as Digital Press Operator, Flexographic Press Operator, Offset Press Operator, Offset Pressman, Press Operator, Pressman, Printer, Printing Press Operator, Printing Pressman, Web Press Operator

Printing Press Operator

Also known as Digital Press Operator, Flexographic Press Operator, Offset Press Operator

Interests Profile
  • Realistic
  • Conventional
  • Enterprising
Pay Range
$25,120 - $60,040 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Quality Control Analysis
  • Operations Monitoring
  • Monitoring
Knowledge Areas
  • Mechanical
  • Production and Processing
  • Customer and Personal Service
Core tasks
  • Start presses and pull proofs to check for ink coverage and density, alignment, and registration.
  • Examine job orders to determine quantities to be printed, stock specifications, colors, or special printing instructions.
  • Adjust ink fountain flow rates.
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What does a Printing Press Operator do?

Printing Press Operators set up and operate digital, letterpress, lithographic, flexographic, gravure, or other printing machines.

In addition, Printing Press Operators includes short-run offset printing presses.

What kind of tasks does a Printing Press Operator perform regularly?

Printing Press Operators are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Start presses and pull proofs to check for ink coverage and density, alignment, and registration.
  • Examine job orders to determine quantities to be printed, stock specifications, colors, or special printing instructions.
  • Adjust ink fountain flow rates.
  • Verify that paper and ink meet the specifications for a given job.
  • Collect and inspect random samples during print runs to identify any necessary adjustments.
  • Monitor automated press operation systems and respond to fault, error, or alert messages.
  • Feed paper through press cylinders and adjust feed and tension controls.
  • Load presses with paper and make necessary adjustments, according to paper size.
  • Secure printing plates to printing units and adjust tolerances.
  • Clean ink fountains, plates, or printing unit cylinders when press runs are completed.
  • Change press plates, blankets, or cylinders, as required.
  • Obtain or mix inks and fill ink fountains.
  • Input production job settings into workstation terminals that control automated printing systems.
  • Clean or oil presses or make minor repairs, using hand tools.
  • Maintain time or production records.
  • Monitor inventory levels on a regular basis, ordering or requesting additional supplies, as necessary.
  • Monitor environmental factors, such as humidity and temperature, that may impact equipment performance and make necessary adjustments.

The above responsibilities are specific to Printing Press Operators. More generally, Printing Press Operators are involved in several broader types of activities:

Controlling Machines and Processes
Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).
Making Decisions and Solving Problems
Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work
Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
Scheduling Work and Activities
Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.

What is a Printing Press Operator salary?

The median salary for a Printing Press Operator is $37,880, and the average salary is $40,200. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Printing Press Operator salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Printing Press Operators earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Printing Press Operators earn less than $25,120 per year, 25% earn less than $29,940, 75% earn less than $48,480, and 90% earn less than $60,040.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Printing Press Operators is expected to change by -9.9%, and there should be roughly 14,700 open positions for Printing Press Operators every year.

Median annual salary
Typical salary range
$25,120 - $60,040
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)

What personality traits are common among Printing Press Operators?


Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Printing Press Operator are usually higher in their Realistic and Conventional interests.

Printing Press Operators typically have very strong Realistic interests. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Also, Printing Press Operators typically have strong Conventional interests. Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.


People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Printing Press Operator tend to value Support, Achievement, and Working Conditions.

Most importantly, Printing Press Operators moderately value Support. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees.

Second, Printing Press Operators moderately value Achievement. Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.

Lastly, Printing Press Operators somewhat value Working Conditions. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Printing Press Operators must consistently demonstrate qualities such as attention to detail, dependability, and integrity.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Printing Press Operators, ranked by importance:

Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Job requires being honest and ethical.
Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
Stress Tolerance
Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.

What education and training do Printing Press Operators need?

Working as a Printing Press Operator usually requires a high school diploma.

Printing Press Operators need anywhere from a few months to one year of working with experienced employees. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with this occupation.

Educational degrees among Printing Press Operators

  • 12.0% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 45.1% completed high school or secondary school
  • 23.8% completed some college coursework
  • 9.0% earned a Associate's degree
  • 8.7% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 0.9% earned a Master's degree
  • 0.5% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Printing Press Operators

Printing Press Operators may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as mechanical, production and processing, or customer and personal service knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Printing Press Operators might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
Production and Processing
Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.
Customer and Personal Service
Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Computers and Electronics
Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.

Important Abilities needed by Printing Press Operators

Printing Press Operators must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Printing Press Operators need abilities such as near vision, control precision, and problem sensitivity in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Printing Press Operators, ranked by their relative importance.

Near Vision
The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
Control Precision
The ability to quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.
Problem Sensitivity
The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
Arm-Hand Steadiness
The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.
Manual Dexterity
The ability to quickly move your hand, your hand together with your arm, or your two hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects.

Critical Skills needed by Printing Press Operators

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Printing Press Operators frequently use skills like quality control analysis, operations monitoring, and monitoring to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Printing Press Operators, ranked by their relative importance.

Quality Control Analysis
Conducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.
Operations Monitoring
Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
Operation and Control
Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
Reading Comprehension
Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

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