Do you have a creative side or a keen business brain or maybe a talent for design, then you may be interested in pursuing a career in printing. It can be difficult to know where to start, what sort of skills and qualifications you need, and what kind of career you could pursue in the future.
Read on for lots of useful information on getting into a career in printing, what preparations you can make to give yourself the best possible start, and some potential printing careers that may interest you.
How to Get Started in Printing
If you want to get into a career in printing, probably the best way is with an apprenticeship. With an apprenticeship in printing, you will earn whilst you train in the skills that future employers will be looking for. Furthermore, you will receive real qualifications that will look good on your CV to potential employers, offering an excellent opportunity for progression.
With a printing apprenticeship not only will you improve your chances of a successful career in the industry, but you will also boost your confidence by learning at your own pace, with the support of a skilled mentor. Examples of printing apprenticeships include:
Print Administration and Planning
This apprenticeship is aimed at those looking to work in administration in the printing industry. This usually involves roles in sales, production control, and planning.
Design and Pre-Press
Aimed at those who want to develop their creative skills, in an apprenticeship on design and pre-press you will regularly design artwork for printing projects. You will also maintain digital systems, do some quality control, and run equipment.
You will become skilled in all the stages that occur after the printing process is finished. You will learn how to use a wide range of equipment and machinery, developing the necessary skills to operate each one successfully and accurately.
A Production apprenticeship will get to work within a commercial production environment. This involves producing digital artwork through the operation of conventional printing machinery, digital printing machinery, and finishing equipment.
Certain roles in the printing industry will require the ability to deal with customers effectively. An apprenticeship in customer service will help you to develop great communication skills and teach you how to deal with even the most difficult customer.
What Qualifications and Skills are Required for a Career in Printing?
To boost your chances of getting into a career in printing, some certain qualifications and skills can help get your foot in the door.
Don’t panic, you don’t need a long list of qualifications to get into a career in printing. This industry tends to be open to all diploma and graduate students, however, a Higher National Diploma or Degree in any of the below subjects may be beneficial in the job application process:
- Printing Management
- Print Media Management
- Print Production or Digital Print Production
- Graphic Communications
- Business Studies
Higher National Diplomas and Degrees may vary in the skills they teach. Therefore, it is always a good idea to check the course guide closely to make sure that you will be covering the area of printing that you’re interested in pursuing as a career. In the above courses, you could cover a wide range of areas relevant to the printing industry. They include:
- Machine printing
- Publishing, publishing production, and desktop publishing
- Pre-press and digital pre-press
- Information and communications technology (ICT)
- Publication production and print production
- Print buying
- Printing process
If you don’t have a degree or a Higher National Diploma, that doesn’t mean that a career in the printing industry is off the table. Many employers are more than willing to provide on the job training through day-release training or apprenticeships. That being said, qualifications with transferable skills – such as degrees in the likes of information technology, art, design, and communications – will be helpful in both your application and training.
To be deemed a desirable candidate for a job in the printing industry, there are additional skills that employers look out for. To impress potential employers you’ll need:
- Excellent organisational skills, including being able to make smart decisions, set attainable targets, and prioritise projects and tasks.
- To be able to deal with pressure meeting tight deadlines with high quality and accurate work.
- Problem-solving skills and the initiative to solve problems without too much direction.
- IT knowledge, which is always useful in the printing industry, as well as many other industries.
- Top communication skills with the ability to understand a client’s needs and work as part of a team. Along with this, comes the importance of excellent customer service.
- Verbal and numerical reasoning e. the ability to critically evaluate numerical and verbal information and use it to make sensible conclusions and decisions.
If you can demonstrate and persuade an employer that you have these skills, your chances of gaining employment in the printing industry will be greatly improved.
What Industries Could you be Working in as a Printer?
The UK print sector is huge, being the fifth largest producer of printed products in the world. With around 10,000 companies spread across the UK, within the printing sector, there is a huge opportunity for employment in a wide range of exciting and interesting industries. They include the likes of:
- Printing of event programmes and advertising literature, which is the biggest sector of the UK printing industry.
- The printing of magazines, books, and newspapers is another large sector of the print industry.
- Security printing of the likes of cheques, tickets, important secure documents.
- Printing of packaging and labelling for all kinds of industries.
- Electronic and print media packages that offer complete marketing solutions for companies and clients.
Employers in the printing world range from small businesses to large companies, all of which will offer a variety of services, based on their size. You could work for:
- Small print business or high street print shops that provide a fast turn-around service for short-run products, such as flyers, letterheads, and business cards. Origination, printing, and finishing are all done on-site.
- Specialist printers in the likes of screen printing or printing on non-paper-based materials, such as metal, wood, or plastic.
- Mid-size print companies that can offer a wider range of services than the high street printers. Services extend to posters, brochures, periodicals, catalogues, and fine art printing.
- Book printers and bookbinders specialising in the large scale printing and finishing of paperback and hardback books.
- High volume printers, for example, those that produce newspapers and magazines.
Potential Careers in Printing
If you are interested in a future career in printing, you may be surprised at how many different positions you may be suitable for. From sales or accounts to warehouse operator or quality control, to print finisher to sign technician, there are dozens and dozens of potential careers in the printing sector. Let’s look at a few potential careers in printing and what they entail.
As a print finisher, it will be your responsibility to turn printed materials into finished products, such as books, catalogues, magazines, etc. You will be in charge of operating the machinery that cuts, stitch, and bind printed materials together to create a finished product. You may also be required to use special hand tools and premium materials, such as leather if you’re creating high-end books.
Skills needed to be a print finisher include a certain level of fitness as heavy lifting, the ability to work accurately with close attention to detail, and IT skills.
Quality control is such an important part of the printing sector as a product has to be perfect, especially if it is going to be mass printed. As a quality controller, you will be tasked with ensuring that all content going into print is free from errors in the text and that any images are of a good enough resolution. Plus, you will be responsible for making that the client’s brief has been met with the final product.
To be a quality controller, you will need excellent spelling and grammar, a keen eye for detail, good communication skills, and the ability to focus for long periods, even when under pressure.
Not all jobs in the print industry are directly involved with the printing process; there are many other fields you have the opportunity to work in. As an account handler, you will be responsible for coordinating several print projects at any one time. This involves uploading and tracking jobs on an internal system and keeping clients updated on the progress of their products.
Good communication and organisational skills are key to an account handler role. Additional skills required are proficiency in the use of certain computer programs and an ability to stick to deadlines, whilst ensuring that a client’s brief is met in full.
Print Production Planner
After a few years of experience in the print industry, you may find yourself suitable for a role as a print production planner, who is responsible for organising and monitoring the flow of printed materials. You will oversee a team of staff, ensure the quality of the product is up to standard, and make sure that deadlines are met.
Candidates will need to have exceptional organisational skills, can deal with high-pressure situations, and be able to multi-task and manage a team successfully.
There are many great opportunities to be had in the printing industry. A career in printing can open up the doors to many different sectors and you could work in several different fields. Improve your chances of career progression by improving your organisational and communication skills. Also, check out the printing apprenticeships and entry-level positions available in your area.
- The UK printing industry is huge and offers many exciting opportunities for prospective employees.
- No specific qualifications are required for a career in printing but degrees in printing-related subjects may improve your chances.
- Skills required for a career in printing include excellent organisations and communication skills, the ability to solve problems and deal with pressure, and IT proficiency.
- An apprenticeship is one of the best ways to get kick-started with a career in the printing industry.