CAREER GUIDE FOR PRINTING MACHINE OPERATOR

SOC Code: 51-5023.09

Pay Band(s): 2,3 and 4        (Salary Structure)

Standard Occupational Description: Operate or tend various types of printing machines, such as offset lithographic presses, letter or letterset presses, flexographic or gravure presses, to produce print on paper or other materials such as plastic, cloth, or rubber.

Printing Machine Operator positions in the Commonwealth are assigned to the following Roles in the Printing Operations Career Group:

Printing Technician II

Printing Technician III

Printing Technician IV

While Printing Machine Operators within the Commonwealth are all located within the Printing Operations Career Group, individuals may want to pursue other opportunities within the Commonwealth depending upon individual training, education, knowledge, skills, abilities, and interests.   

Other Career Group(s) that may be of interest are:

Administrative and Office Support

Computer Operations

Equipment Service & Repair

General Administration

Media & Production Services

SKILLS, KNOWLEDGE, ABILITIES AND TASKS

(Technical and Functional Expertise)

Skills
Note: The technical and functional skills listed below are based on general occupational qualifications for Printing Machine Operators commonly recognized by most employers.  Typically, you will not be required to have all of the skills listed to be a successful performer.  Recruitment and selection standards for an individual state job must be based on the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities for that job as indicated in the job announcement and job description in the Employee Work Profile.

  1. Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
  2. Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
  3. Determining the kind of tools and equipment needed to do a job.
  4. Conducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.

Knowledge
Note: The technical and functional knowledge statements listed below are based on general occupational qualifications for Printing Machine Operators commonly recognized by most employers.  Typically, you will not be required to have all of the knowledge listed to be a successful performer.  Recruitment and selection standards for an individual state job must be based on the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities for that job as indicated in the job announcement and job description in the Employee Work Profile.

The Knowledge of:

  1. Raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.
  2. Machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.

Abilities
Note: The technical and functional abilities listed below are based on general occupational qualifications for Printing Machine Operators commonly recognized by most employers.  Typically, you will not be required to have all of the abilities listed to be a successful performer.  Recruitment and selection standards for an individual state job must be based on the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities for that job as indicated in the job announcement and job description in the Employee Work Profile.

The Ability to:

  1. Quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.
  2. Match or detect differences between colors, including shades of color and brightness.
  3. Listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  4. See details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
  5. Imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.
  6. Quickly move your hand, your hand together with your arm, or your two hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects.
  7. Communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
  8. Add, subtract, multiply, or divide quickly and correctly.
  9. Read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  10. Choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem.

Tasks
Note:  The following is a list of sample tasks typically performed by Printing Machine Operators.  Employees in this occupation will not necessarily perform all of the tasks listed. 

  1. Pushes buttons, turns handles or moves controls and levers to start printing machine or manually controls equipment operation.
  2. Turns, pushes or moves controls to set and adjust speed, temperature, inkflow, and position and pressure tolerances of press.
  3. Selects and installs printing plates, rollers, screens, stencils, type, die, and cylinders in machine according to specifications, using hand tools.
  4. Loads, positions and adjusts unprinted materials on holding fixture or in loading and feeding mechanisms of press.
  5. Reviews work order to determine ink, stock and equipment needed for production.
  6. Accepts orders, calculates and quotes prices and receives payments from customers.
  7. Discards or corrects misprinted materials, using ink eradicators or solvents.
  8. Dismantles and reassembles printing unit or parts, using hand and power tools, to repair, maintain or adjust machine.
  9. Cleans and lubricates printing machine and components (e.g., rollers, screens, typesetting, reservoirs) using oil, solvents, brushes, rags and hoses.
  10. Removes printed materials from press, using handtruck, electric lift or hoist, and transports them to drying, storage or finishing areas.

INTERESTED?

Like people, occupations have traits or characteristics.  These characteristics give important clues about the nature of the work and work environment, and give you an opportunity to match your own personal interests to a specific occupation.  When you choose a job in an occupation that matches your own interests you have taken an important step in planning a successful and rewarding career.

The occupation of Printing Machine Operator has the characteristic described below:

Realistic — Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

LICENSURE, REGISTRATION, OR CERTIFICATION REQUIREMENTS

Generally this is not required for Printing Machine Operator positions in state government.

EDUCATIONAL, TRAINING, AND LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES 

The Department of Labor provides the following information:

Printing machine operators prepare, operate, and maintain the printing presses in a pressroom. Duties of printing machine operators vary according to the type of press they operate—offset lithography, gravure, flexography, screen printing, letterpress, and digital.

Although completion of a formal apprenticeship or a postsecondary program in printing equipment operation continues to be the best way to learn the trade, most printing machine operators are trained informally on the job while they work as assistants or helpers to experienced operators. Beginning press operators load, unload, and clean presses. With time, they move up to operating one-color sheet-fed presses and eventually advance to multicolor presses. Operators are likely to gain experience on many kinds of printing presses during the course of their career.

Apprenticeships for press operators in commercial shops take 4 years. In addition to on-the-job instruction, apprenticeships include related classroom or correspondence school courses.

Apprenticeship information for printing machine operators can be found on the Department of Labor & Industry's web site at: http://www.dli.state.va.us/

Some postsecondary school programs require 2 years of study and award an associate degree, but most programs can be completed in 1 year or less.

COMMONWEALTH COMPETENCIES

Competencies are a set of identified behaviors, knowledge, skills, and abilities that directly and positively impact the success of employees and the organization. Competencies can be observed and measured.  When consistently demonstrated, competencies make employees particularly effective in their work.  Competencies help lay out a road map to career success.  You can use the Commonwealth Competencies to help improve your individual performance by adopting behaviors that make high performing employees successful in their jobs. In this way, you can use the Commonwealth Competencies for your further professional development.

The Commonwealth Competencies are:

  1. Technical and Functional Expertise
  2. Understanding the Business     
  3. Achieving Results
  4. Serving the Customer
  5. Teamwork
  6. Interpersonal and Communication Skills
  7. Leadership and Personal Effectiveness

The above competencies may be applied to employees throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia.  They can be rank-ordered by agencies and hiring managers to represent the needs of a specific job.  The rank ordering will change depending upon the occupation, an organization's priorities, the actual job requirements, and the supervisor's preferences. 

Career success is both about what you do (applying your technical knowledge, skills, and ability) and how you do it (the consistent behaviors you demonstrate and choose to use) while interacting and communicating with others.  Hopefully, by studying the Commonwealth competencies, identifying your developmental opportunities, and working to refine your own competence, you can take charge of your career!

For additional information about the Commonwealth Competencies go to: http://jobs.virginia.gov/cc_planningctr.htm.  For the competencies, we first list the competencies and then define each.  Finally, we list competency indicators; to describe what successful performance looks like. 

COMMONWEALTH CAREER PATH

Career opportunities in the Commonwealth are not limited to moving “up” to the next highest role and pay band, changing positions, or to becoming a supervisor.  That's because most roles describe a broad group of occupationally related positions that perform a range of work that requires increased knowledge and skills.  For that reason, Commonwealth roles describe the career paths within the same or higher-level role for the same or different Career Group.  The broad salary range and the Commonwealth's pay practices provide flexibility in recognizing career development and advancement. (Salary Structure)

For example: Printing Machine Operator

PAY BAND

PRACTITIONER ROLES

 

PAY BAND

MANAGER ROLES

2

Printing Technician II

 

4

Printing Manager I

3

Printing Technician III

 

5

Printing Manager II

4

Printing Technician IV

     

Sample Career Path

Printing Technician II

The Printing Technician II role provides a career track for entry to journey level printers responsible for completing basic printing duties necessary to generate production runs of documents. This includes operating and performing routine maintenance on the machinery, as well as record keeping.

Printing Technician III

The Printing Technician III role provides a career track for printers performing advanced level or supervisory responsibilities. Duties range from operating various types of printing or copying equipment to being a first line supervisor of staff performing duties related to duplicating and producing printed documents. Duties may include digital as well as offset and photocopy printing.

Printing Technician IV

The Printing Technician IV role provides career tracks for expert printers using the highest technical knowledge of printing or digital reproductions. This expert technician uses advance printing software for the digital direct -to-plate process and computer skills that include the latest advance design softwares and knowledge of the correct formats and resolution in which to save a file for the different types of digital equipment for the highest quality available. This role has the highest level of technical knowledge of printing or digital reproductions in conferring with and assessing customer needs, making recommendations, and writing job specifications to have work produced within or outside the agency and managing the process or project.

Printing Manager I

The Printing Manager I role provides a career track for managers of others in the performance of a wide variety of printing tasks. These responsibilities may be accomplished through subordinate supervisors and employees or through contractors. May function as the charge printing position with financial and staffing responsibilities in an agency's complex printing operation or as an assistant-manager in the largest most complex printing operations.

Printing Manager II

The Printing Manager II role provides a career track for managers of others in the performance of a wide variety of printing tasks as the charge position in the largest and most complex settings. Employees are responsible for the management of subordinate supervisors as well as technical employees and include the normal range of managerial duties such as planning, budgeting, staffing, and evaluation.

ADDITIONAL OCCUPATIONAL INFORMATION CAN BE FOUND AT: 

O*NET (Occupational Information Network) 

http://online.onetcenter.org/gen_search_page

Virginia Employment Commission 

http://www.alex.vec.state.va.us/

Career One Stop

http://www.careeronestop.org/

Virginia Career Resource Network

 http://www.vacrn.net/

Graphic Communications International Union

 http://www.gciu.org

Printing Industries of America

http://www.gain.net

Graphic Communications Council

 http://www.teched.vt.edu/gcc

Graphic Arts Technical Foundation

 http://www.gatf.org