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Printing Press Operators
SOC Code: 51-5112.00

Set up and operate digital, letterpress, lithographic, flexographic, gravure, or other printing machines. Includes short-run offset printing presses.

Sample of reported job titles: 1st Pressman, 2nd Pressman, Flexographic Press Operator, Offset Pressman, Press Leader, Press Operator, Pressman, Printer, Printing Press Operator, Printing Pressman


  • Collect and inspect random samples during print runs to identify any necessary adjustments.
  • Examine job orders to determine quantities to be printed, stock specifications, colors, or special printing instructions.
  • Verify that paper and ink meet the specifications for a given job.
  • Start presses and pull proofs to check for ink coverage and density, alignment, and registration.
  • Change press plates, blankets, or cylinders, as required.
  • Obtain or mix inks and fill ink fountains.
  • 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.
  • Monitor automated press operation systems and respond to fault, error, or alert messages.
  • Clean or oil presses or make minor repairs, using hand tools.
  • Adjust ink fountain flow rates.
  • Maintain time or production records.
  • Adjust digital files to alter print elements, such as fonts, graphics, or color separations.
  • Input production job settings into workstation terminals that control automated printing systems.
  • Download completed jobs to archive media so that questions can be answered or jobs replicated.
  • Download or scan files to be printed, using printing production software.
  • Direct or monitor work of press crews.
  • Monitor environmental factors, such as humidity and temperature, that may impact equipment performance and make necessary adjustments.
  • Monitor inventory levels on a regular basis, ordering or requesting additional supplies, as necessary.
  • Set up or operate auxiliary equipment, such as cutting, folding, plate-making, drilling, or laminating machines.

Technology Skills

  • Calendar and scheduling software - Job scheduling software
  • Data base user interface and query software - Printers Software Inc. Presidio; Printing management system software
  • Desktop publishing software - Adobe Systems Adobe InDesign ; Adobe Systems Adobe PageMaker; Enfocus PitStop Pro; QuarkXPress
  • Document management software - Adobe Systems Adobe Acrobat ; Adobe Systems Adobe LifeCycle Production Print ES3; Xerox FreeFlow Print Server
  • Electronic mail software - Email software; Microsoft Outlook
  • Enterprise resource planning ERP software - Electronics for Imaging EFI Monarch; Electronics for Imaging EFI Pace
  • Financial analysis software - Xerox ProfitQuick
  • Graphics or photo imaging software - Adobe Systems Adobe Photoshop ; Corel CorelDraw Graphics Suite; Graphics software; Image editing software
  • Industrial control software - AABACH Graphic Systems DIGRA
  • Inventory management software - Inventory tracking software
  • Office suite software - Microsoft Office
  • Project management software - Job tracking software
  • Spreadsheet software - Microsoft Excel
  • Word processing software - Microsoft Word

Tools Used

  • Adjustable wrenches - Adjustable crescent wrenches
  • Air dryers - Air knives; Infrared dryers
  • Ball peen hammer - Ball peen hammers
  • Belt conveyors - Material conveyors; Materials conveyors
  • Claw hammer - Claw hammers
  • Conductivity meters - Conductivity indicators
  • Dating or numbering machines - Numbering machines
  • Densitometers - Printing densitometers
  • Desktop computers
  • Digital cameras
  • Document camera - Process cameras
  • Ear muffs
  • Ear plugs
  • Flexographic printer - Flexo presses; Flexographic presses
  • Grease guns - Grease dispensing guns
  • Hand trucks or accessories - Hand trucks
  • Height gauges - Packing gauges
  • Hex keys - Allen wrenches
  • High capacity removable media drives - Universal serial bus USB flash drives
  • Hoists - Chain hoists
  • Industrial shrink wrap equipment - Shrink wrap machines
  • Laminators - Laminating machines
  • Laser printers - Large format printers
  • Letter folders - Paper folders
  • Letterpress equipment - Digital letterpresses; Letter presses
  • Levels - Torpedo levels
  • Lifts - Electric lifts
  • Locking pliers - Vise grip pliers
  • Magnifiers - Handheld magnifiers
  • Micrometers - Printing micrometers
  • Notebook computers - Laptop computers
  • Offset printing plate processors - Offset printing plate processing equipment
  • Offset printing presses - Offset presses; Offset printing equipment; Sheet-fed presses; Web presses (see all 6 examples)
  • Pad printer - Pad printing machines
  • Pallet trucks - Pallet jacks
  • Paper cutting machines or accessories - Paper cutting machines
  • Paper drilling machines - Paper drills
  • Paper jogging machines - Back joggers; Paper joggers
  • Perforating machines - Perforators
  • Personal computers - Workstation platforms
  • pH meters - pH indicators; pH testers
  • Photocopiers - Digital copiers; Photocopying equipment
  • Photogravure printing machines - Gravure presses
  • Platemakers - External drum imagesetters; Flat-bed imagesetters; Printing platemakers; Thermal platemaking equipment (see all 7 examples)
  • Printing assemblers - Folding equipment; Stitching equipment
  • Printing collators or decollators - Collating equipment
  • Printing cutters - Cutting equipment
  • Printing guillotines - Power paper cutters
  • Printing presses - Digital printing presses; Multicolor presses; Sheetfed presses
  • Punches or nail sets or drifts - Drift punches
  • Putty knives
  • Ratchets - Ratchet sets
  • Rulers - Line gauge rulers
  • Safety glasses
  • Scanners - Color separation scanners; Drum scanners
  • Screwdrivers - Phillips head screwdrivers; Slotted screwdrivers
  • Silk screen printing machines - Screen printing presses
  • Silk screen vacuum printing frames - Silk screen vacuum printer frames
  • Spectrophotometers - Printing spectrophotometers
  • Stackers - Printing stackers
  • Stapler units - Stapling machines
  • Tape measures - Measuring tapes
  • Thermal book binding machines - Thermal book binders
  • Wrapping machinery - Strapping machines


  • Mechanical - Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.


  • Quality Control Analysis - Conducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.
  • Operation Monitoring - Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Monitoring - Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Operation and Control - Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
  • Complex Problem Solving - Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
  • Coordination - Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
  • Equipment Maintenance - Performing routine maintenance on equipment and determining when and what kind of maintenance is needed.
  • Judgment and Decision Making - Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Time Management - Managing one's own time and the time of others.
  • Troubleshooting - Determining causes of operating errors and deciding what to do about it.


  • Near Vision - The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
  • 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 there is a problem.
  • Information Ordering - The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Visual Color Discrimination - The ability to match or detect differences between colors, including shades of color and brightness.
  • Visualization - The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.
  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • 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.
  • Control Precision - The ability to quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.
  • Deductive Reasoning - The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  • Finger Dexterity - The ability to make precisely coordinated movements of the fingers of one or both hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble very small objects.
  • 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.
  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Perceptual Speed - The ability to quickly and accurately compare similarities and differences among sets of letters, numbers, objects, pictures, or patterns. The things to be compared may be presented at the same time or one after the other. This ability also includes comparing a presented object with a remembered object.
  • Category Flexibility - The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
  • Far Vision - The ability to see details at a distance.
  • Inductive Reasoning - The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
  • Selective Attention - The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
  • Speech Clarity - The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
  • Speech Recognition - The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.


  • Interest code: RC
    • Realistic - 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.
    • Conventional - 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.

Work Context

  • Exposed to Contaminants - 96% responded “Every day.”
  • Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets - 82% responded “Every day.”
  • Importance of Being Exact or Accurate - 72% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Indoors, Environmentally Controlled - 88% responded “Every day.”
  • Frequency of Decision Making - 78% responded “Every day.”
  • Spend Time Standing - 63% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
  • Time Pressure - 57% responded “Every day.”
  • Pace Determined by Speed of Equipment - 46% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Sounds, Noise Levels Are Distracting or Uncomfortable - 52% responded “Every day.”
  • Freedom to Make Decisions - 51% responded “A lot of freedom.”
  • Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results - 53% responded “Very important results.”
  • Contact With Others - 44% responded “Constant contact with others.”
  • Exposed to Hazardous Equipment - 70% responded “Every day.”
  • Face-to-Face Discussions - 58% responded “Every day.”
  • Structured versus Unstructured Work - 38% responded “Some freedom.”
  • Responsible for Others' Health and Safety - 46% responded “Very high responsibility.”
  • Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls - 28% responded “About half the time.”
  • Exposed to Hazardous Conditions - 52% responded “Every day.”
  • Responsibility for Outcomes and Results - 36% responded “Very high responsibility.”
  • Importance of Repeating Same Tasks - 38% responded “Very important.”
  • Consequence of Error - 30% responded “Very serious.”
  • Work With Work Group or Team - 30% responded “Very important.”
  • Spend Time Walking and Running - 41% responded “Less than half the time.”
  • Cramped Work Space, Awkward Positions - 45% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
  • Coordinate or Lead Others - 29% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Telephone - 31% responded “Every day.”
  • Frequency of Conflict Situations - 34% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
  • Duration of Typical Work Week - 69% responded “40 hours.”


Percentage of RespondentsEducation Level Required
71%High school diploma or equivalent
22%Post-secondary certificate
7%Less than high school diploma

Work Styles

  • Attention to Detail - Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
  • Dependability - Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
  • Persistence - Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
  • Integrity - Job requires being honest and ethical.
  • Stress Tolerance - Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high stress situations.
  • Achievement/Effort - Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
  • Analytical Thinking - Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
  • Independence - 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.
  • Self Control - Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
  • Adaptability/Flexibility - Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
  • Initiative - Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
  • Innovation - Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
  • Cooperation - Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.

Work Values

  • Support - Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.
  • Achievement - Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.
  • Independence - Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.

Wages & Trends

  • Median wages (2017)
    • $17.19 hourly, $35,760 annual
  • Employment (2016)
    • 179,000 employees
  • Projected growth (2016-2026)
    • Decline (-2% or lower)
  • Projected job openings (2016-2026)
    • 15,800

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