Printing press operators (NOC 7381)

High opportunity occupation

About this job

Printing press operators set up and operate sheet and web-fed presses to print illustrations, designs and text on paper, plastic, sheet metal and other material.

People in this occupation:

  • work for commercial printing companies, newspapers, magazines and other publishing companies, and establishments in the public and private sectors that have in-house printing departments
  • should be mechanically inclined and enjoy careful, precise detailed work
  • should have good eyesight and accurate colour perception, as well as good mathematic skills in order to perform calculations
  • should have a familiarity with computers and a good level of physical fitness
Common job titles
  • cylinder printing press
  • flat-bed press set-up
  • flexographic press
  • gravure / letterpress
  • gravure press / gravure proof
  • intaglio printing press


Printing press operators:

  • review job orders to determine job specifications such as production time, colour sequence and quantities required, and advise press crew of these specifications
  • mount plates or cylinders and make necessary adjustments
  • fill ink fountains and take measurements, make adjustments and determine settings to control colour and thickness
  • set up press and check samples for ink coverage, alignment and registration
  • monitor regular press run for quality consistency using computer control console and make adjustments if required
  • remove and clean plates and cylinders at end of press run
  • direct activities of press crew and make sure that safety procedures are followed

Work environment

Some printing press operators, particularly those who work for newspapers, work shifts that can include weekends, nights and holidays. Overtime work may be required to meet deadlines.

Printing press operators usually work in climate controlled press rooms. They often stand for long periods and do a considerable amount of bending and reaching. They frequently lift paper, ink rollers and other items weighing up to 10 kilograms.

Working with machinery can be noisy and involves some risk of injury, however, workers follow safety procedures to reduce potential hazards. In addition, newer computerized presses allow operators to make most adjustments from a control panel, thereby reducing risks of injury.

Insights from industry

The majority of the openings for printing press operators will arise from the need to replace retiring workers.

British Columbia's Printing and Publishing industry is expected to see growth as a result of a growing population and communications-intensive events, such as the 2010 Olympic Games. However, this growth will be tempered by an increased use of the internet to distribute news, advertising and other communications materials. Technological developments such as desktop publishing, direct-to-press printing, automated binding and print-on-demand capabilities may result in decreased employment opportunities for these workers.

Career paths and resources

Career paths

Experienced operators may advance to lead hand, foreman, plant manager or other supervisory positions where operating large presses require a press crew.

Additional resources