If you’re thinking about your future career or considering changing careers, it is worth considering the print industry. There is such a wide array of jobs in the printing industry, from the very start to the very end of the printing process, as well as support roles that ensure that the process runs smoothly and that the customer receives what they ordered on time.
Within the printing industry, you can also have the opportunity to work in different sectors as many printing companies have particular specialities. These printing specialities can include:
- Large volume printers of books, magazines, newspapers, catalogues, etc.
- Stationary, label, flyers, business cards, etc. printers
- Packaging printers and assemblers
- Printers that specialise in printing on non-paper materials, such as metal, plastic, fabric, and wood.
Within each of these sectors there are many jobs to choose from, so where do you start?
Read on to learn more about some of the different careers in the print industry, including an overview of the typical tasks and skills needed.
Jobs within the Print Industry
These roles are responsible for the work required before the printing process begins. They are perfectly suited to those who are creative and have an interest in art and design.
Artworker or Mac Operator
A great role for those with a background in art, an Artworker in the print industry takes creative design concepts from a client’s brief or the designer to make the file ready for print. This involves fixing colours, typography, and inconsistencies in the digital file.
Day-to-day responsibilities include, working with clients, graphic design, using Adobe, producing visuals, sticking to brand guidelines, and providing colour proofs. Key skills required include:
- Ability to work with clients
- Extensive experience using Adobe or equivalent software
- Experience working on print-ready files
- Attention to detail for accurate proofing of print-ready work
- Ability to understand a brand or client’s guidelines
- Being able to under pressure and to tight deadlines.
If you have been looking at jobs in the print industry, you may also have come across the position of Mac Operator, which is very similar to an Artworker.
Printing Process Jobs
These jobs in the printing industry are all involved in the physical process of creating a printed product. Whilst they are more manual jobs, they still offer the opportunity to be creative and problem solve.
Machine Printers have an invaluable role in the manufacturing process of a printed process. After receiving a customer’s requirements and specifications, they are responsible for loading the printing press with paper (or another material) and once a test run has proved successful, start the printing process. Most Machine Printers are trained in several different printing methods, depending on the materials they will be printing on.
As part of the job, Machine Printers will match colours, restock ink levels, programme job data into control units, carry out quality control, and carry out basic maintenance of their machines.
There are no formal qualifications needed to be a Machine Printer, but GCSEs in art and design, ICT, Maths, and English, would be beneficial. Some people start their careers in Machine Printing with an apprenticeship. Some key skills needed for the role include:
- Being able to work with our hands.
- Working independently and as part of a team.
- The ability to solve problems and show initiative.
- Good time management.
Print Finishers are responsible for turning printed materials into the finished product the client or customer requested. With some companies, a print finisher will operate large machines that perform several actions, from cutting the pages to binding the finished book.
Whilst other companies will have smaller machines, each performing different tasks in the print finishing process. Print Finishers can work with several printed materials, such as books, catalogues, and glossy magazines.
The skills required to be a Print Finisher include:
- Excellent attention to detail
- Working well with your hands
- The ability to work accurately under time pressures.
- The will to retrain when printing techniques change
Packaging is one of the key areas of the print industry, and below are some of the most common packaging jobs that we recruit for.
A Gluer Minder is responsible for operating the gluing machines that (sometimes fold) and glue flat printed products to create cartons, boxes, etc. This includes setting up the gluing machine, operation, and clean up.
Key responsibilities of a Glue Minder include efficiently running the machines following targets, quality control and maintaining accuracy, ensure that the machine area is safe, as well as adhering to all health and safety procedures. Desired skills include:
- Attention to detail
- Ability to work with minimal supervision
- Being able to handle several different responsibilities.
- Meeting deadlines under pressure.
- Good communication skills.
Responsible for the design, development, and manufacture of a wide range of packaging products, a Packaging Technologists can work in several different industries, including the likes of cosmetics, food and drink, cleaning products, toiletries, etc.
The primary task of a Packaging Technologist will include creating new packages to meet the requirements and specifications of a client’s brief. To complete this task successfully they will produce samples, run trials, control quality standards, and negotiates with suppliers.
There are a few ways to get into a career as a Packaging Technologist, including through an apprenticeship or school leaver training programme. Graduates will usually require a degree in an appropriate engineering, scientific, or technical subject, such as mechanical engineering, chemistry, or graphic design. Some key skills required for the job include:
- Design and technical skills
- The ability to problem-solve and innovate
- Excellent communication skills
- Attention to detail,
- The ability to work well in a team.
Senior Management Jobs
Those in senior management roles will be responsible for overseeing the work of a number of different departments, to ensure that the company is producing the best printed products for their clients.
Senior Account Manager
A Senior Account Manager for a printing firm will be responsible for overseeing and providing dad-to-day support for all client projects, to ensure that they are in line with the briefs. The role is critical to the successful running of a printing company as they liaise with various departments, including design, production, and packaging, right from receiving the client’s brief through to delivery.
As a brand ambassador within the company, the Senior Account Manager is also responsible for keeping clients up to date with the progress of their projects regularly. Plus, they have plenty of administrative tasks, including budgeting, invoicing, and future client planning. A Senior Account Manager will need the following skills:
- The ability to multi-task to keep track of multiple projects at one time.
- Great organisational skills
- Excellent communication and team management skills.
- Being able to work under pressure and tight deadlines
- Manage workload effectively
In the print industry, a Design Manager will be in charge of a company’s design function, providing the opportunity to be innovative in the creation of new designs. A key role in the packaging industry, a Design Manager will be responsible for overseeing a team of structural designers, producing structural designs from concept, and use computer-aided design (CAD).
Plus, they will take work with clients to find the perfect design solution and review processes and materials for cost reductions. Key attributes for a role as a Design manager include:
- Previous experience as a structural designer.
- High level of proficiency using CAD
- Management experience
- Excellent attention to detail.
- Great communication skills and the ability to build strong business relationships.
- Ability to work in a creative design team.
These are just a small selection of careers in the printing industry and there are many more that may be of interest to you. If you are looking to get started in a career in printing, it will serve you well if you have excellent communication, problem-solving, and organisational skills, good attention to detail, and the ability to work under pressure. Plus, proficiency in IT is always well received in the printing sector.
If this article or your further research has encouraged you to seriously consider a career in printing, we suggest checking out what printing apprenticeships are available in your area. An apprenticeship is a great way to start out your career in the print industry as you get all the skills you need on the job, whilst getting paid. Plus, you have a great opportunity for career progression in the industry. Within a few years, you could find yourself working in one of the roles mentioned above.
However, you find yourself in a role in the printing industry, you will find it challenging at times, but it will be rewarding and interesting, with lots of opportunities for promotion.