Is becoming a printing worker right for me?
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How to become a Printing Worker
Most prepress technicians receive some formal postsecondary classroom instruction before entering the occupation. They typically get either a postsecondary non-degree award or an associate’s degree from a technical school, junior college, or community college. Workers with experience in other printing techniques can take a few college-level graphic communications or prepress-related courses to upgrade their skills and qualify for prepress jobs.
For printing press operators and print binding and finishing workers, a high school diploma is sufficient to enter the occupation. Postsecondary coursework is offered through community colleges and vocational schools, although most workers learn the required skills through on-the-job training. There are also four-year bachelor's degree programs in graphic design aimed primarily at students who plan to move into management positions in printing or design.
Beginning press operators load, unload, and clean presses. With time and training, they become fully qualified to operate a particular type of press. Operators can gain experience on more than one kind of printing press during the course of their career. Experienced operators periodically get retraining to update their skills. For example, printing plants that change from sheet-fed offset presses to digital presses have to retrain the entire press crew because skill requirements for the two types of presses are different.
Most bookbinders and bindery workers learn through on-the-job training. Inexperienced workers may start out as helpers and do simple tasks, such as moving paper from cutting machines to folding machines, or catching stock as it comes off machines. They learn basic binding skills, including the characteristics of paper and how to cut large sheets of paper into different sizes with the least amount of waste.
Usually, it takes one to three months to learn to operate simpler machines, but it can take up to one year to become completely familiar with more complex equipment, such as computerized binding machines. As workers gain experience, they learn to operate more types of equipment. To keep pace with changing technology, re-training is increasingly important.