Job printers usually work in small printing shops and are responsible for all three stages of printing – prepress, press, and binding and postpress. They receive the material from customers on computer disks. They first complete the page composition and layout based on the source material. They check for errors, print clarity, and other mistakes. They correct any errors found and then begin printing the job. During the printing phase, they attach the pages of each copy together. Finally, they prepare the completed job for delivery to the customer.
The occupation of job printer has changed substantially in recent years due to advances in technology. Old methods known as “hot type” text composition are being rapidly replaced by computerized digital imaging technology. Most customers provide printers with materials that are already laid out to the desired specifications and are ready to be printed immediately. Desktop publishing allows customers to do much of the work previously done by job printers. Customers often employ their own desktop publishers and graphic designers. Job printers usually receive files from these workers via e-mail or disks that contain material that is ready to publish.
Job printers should have good communication skills because they are often called on to communicate in written and oral form with customers. They also need to have well-developed manual dexterity. They should be detail-oriented and able to work on an independent basis with little or no supervision. They need to have good eyesight, depth perception, field of view, and color vision. And they should have a good artistic sensibility.
In 2002, job printers earned a median hourly wage of $14.47. Earnings ranged from the lowest 10%, who earned less than $8.59, to the highest 10%, who earned more than $23.06. Wages differ based on factors such as experience, training, and the location and size of the company.
Training and Education
In the past, many job printers started their careers as untrained assistants, were trained on the job, and gradually moved up the ladder. This has changed because the occupation today requires computer software skills. The result is new educational and training requirements for entry into the field. Employers usually require some type of formal graphic communications training. This training can be found in 2-year associate degree programs through community and junior colleges and technical schools. 4-year programs are offered at universities and lead to a bachelor’s degree in graphic design.
Bachelor’s degrees are not typically required for entry-level positions but are often necessary to advance to management positions. The most desirable employees have a combination of experience in the printing industry and training in cutting edge digital technology. Visit this page about trade schools for more information on related careers.
In 2002, job printers held about 56,000 jobs. Most were employed in the printing industry, while a significant number are employed in newspaper publishing.
Between 2002 and 2012, employment of job printers is expected to increase more slowly than the average. While demand for printed material will grow at a healthy rate, the advances in technology, especially desktop publishing, will greatly inhibit growth in employment. Opportunities will vary from industry to industry. Some new opportunities will arise in commercial printing establishments. Employers usually prefer to hire workers with a broad range of experience in the printing industry.