Employment of printing machine operators is projected to decline moderately through 2018, as newer printing presses require fewer operators. Despite this, job opportunities are expected to be favorable because a large number of these workers are expected to retire or leave the occupation over the next decade. The best opportunities will be available to skilled press operators.
Employment of press operators is expected to decline by 5 percent over the 2008-18 period. Employment will fall because increasing printer speed and automation require fewer press operators to maintain production levels. This will be especially true among the large printing press operations such as those used by the newspaper industry. Expansion of digital printing technologies and related increases in production cost efficiencies, however, will allow printers to print smaller quantities more profitably and meet the growing interest in the print-on-demand and electronic publishing markets. This should widen the market for printed materials, offsetting some of the employment loss from increased productivity. Short-run print capabilities will permit printers to distribute a wider variety of catalogs, direct mail enclosures, newspaper inserts, and other kinds of print as advertisers are better able to identify the specific interests of a targeted market or audience.
Opportunities for employment in printing press operations should be favorable. Retirements of older printing machine operators and the need for workers trained on computerized printing equipment will create many job openings. For example, small printing jobs will increasingly be run on sophisticated high-speed digital printing equipment that requires a complex set of skills, such as knowledge of database management software. Those who complete postsecondary training programs in printing and who are comfortable with computers will have the best employment opportunities.
Printing machine operators held about 195,600 jobs in 2008. Over half of all press operator jobs were in printing and related support activities. Paper manufacturing and newspaper publishers also were large employers. Additional jobs were in advertising, public relations, and related services and plastics product manufacturing.
The printing and newspaper publishing industries are two of the most geographically dispersed in the United States. While printing machine operators thus can find jobs throughout the country, large numbers of jobs are concentrated in large printing centers such as the Chicago, Los Angeles-Long Beach, New York, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Philadelphia, Boston, and Washington, DC metropolitan areas.
Some previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience maybe helpful in these occupations, but usually is not needed. For example, a drywall installer could benefit from experience in installing dry wall, but an inexperienced person could learn the job fairly easily.
These occupations usually require a high school diploma and may require some vocational training or job related course work. In some cases, you may need an associate's or bachelor's degree.
Employees in these occupations need anywhere from a few months to one year of working with experienced employees.
Drywall installers, fire inspectors, flight attendants, pharmacy technicians, retail salespersons, and bank tellers.
In these occupations you can often use your knowledge and skills to help others.
[Back to Top]
Details about apprenticeships and other training opportunities may be obtained from local employers, such as newspapers and printing shops, local offices of the Graphic Communications Conference of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, local affiliates of Printing Industries of America, or local offices of the State employment service. Apprenticeship information is also available from the U.S. Department of Labor's toll-free helpline: 1 (877) 282-5627.
For information on careers and training in printing and the graphic arts contact:
- NPES The Association for Suppliers of Printing Publishing, and Converting Technologies, 1899 Preston White Dr., Reston, VA 20191. Internet: http://www.npes.org/education/index.html
- Printing Industries of America, 200 Deer Run Rd., Sewickley, PA 15143. Internet: http://www.printing.org/
- Graphic Arts Education and Research Foundation, 1899 Preston White Dr., Reston, VA 20191. Internet: http://www.gaerf.org
- NAPL National Association of Printing Leadership, 75 West Century Road, Suite 100, Paramus, NJ 07652. Internet: http://www.napl.org/
Sources: O*Net data version 12.0
Occupational Outlook Handbook
Department of Labor
[Back to Top]