Printing Press Operators and Assistants


Employment Prospects


There are approximately 173,430 press operators employed in the United States. The bulk of these operators are with newspapers and commercial and business printers. Companies range from small print shops, where one or two press operators handle everything, to large corporations that employ teams of press operators to work around the clock.

Other press operator jobs are with in-plant operations, that is, in companies and organizations that do their own printing in-house.

Starting Out

Openings for trainee positions may be listed in newspaper want ads, online employment services, or with a state employment service. Trade school graduates may find jobs through their school's placement office. 

Advancement Prospects

Most printing press operators, even those with some training, begin their careers doing entry-level work, such as loading, unloading, and cleaning the presses. In large print shops, the line of promotion is usually as follows: press helper, press assistant, press operator, press operator-in-charge, press room supervisor, superintendent.

Press operators can advance in salary and responsibility level by learning to work more complex printing equipment. Printing press operators should be prepared to continue their training and education throughout their careers. As printing companies upgrade their equipment and buy new, more computerized presses, retraining will be essential.

Press operators who are interested in other aspects of the printing business may also find advancement opportunities elsewhere in their company. Those with business savvy may be successful in establishing their own print shops.

Tips for Entry

Take print shop classes in high school.

Obtain a part-time job at a print shop.

Work during the summer at a local printing plant.