Machine printers set up and run printing presses. They do a trial print to check the quality and constantly monitor the main print run.
Also known as
- Press Operator
- Printer, Machine
Video: - Paul: Machine Printer
As a Machine Printer, you will set up and run printing machines. Some specialise in a particular type of machine. You usually have a number of skills and develop very good knowledge of colour and the reproduction of photographs, and other types of illustrations.
While the machine is running, you check that the print quality and colours are constant. When the run is complete, the printed material has to be unloaded and stacked, ready to go on to the next process. Lifting equipment is usually available to do this.
The work environment can be noisy, and you might have to wear protective clothing, such as overalls.
Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.
Personal Qualities and Skills
To become a Machine Printer, you'll need:
- to be able to concentrate for long periods
- practical skills
- good colour vision
- IT skills
- to be able to work to deadlines
- an eye for detail
The job might not be suitable for people who have skin conditions, such as eczema, or breathing complaints, such as asthma.
Pay and Opportunities
The pay rates given below are approximate.
- Starting: £16,500 - £17,500
- With experience: £19,000 - £23,500
- Senior Machine Printers earn £25,500 - £28,000
Hours of work
Printers usually work 37.5 hours a week; shift work and weekend working may be required and overtime may be available.
Where could I work?
Employers are printing firms of all sizes - large and small, local government print departments and educational institutions. Other employers are local and national newspaper printing concerns and companies that specialise in printing on plastic and on other packaging materials.
Opportunities for Machine Printers occur in printing firms in towns and cities throughout the UK.
Where are vacancies advertised?
Vacancies are advertised on all the major job boards, on Universal Jobmatch, and at Jobcentre Plus.
Entry Routes and Training
There are no set entry routes into this career. However, many employers will want you to have at least some passes at GCSE or equivalent.
An Intermediate or Advanced Level Apprenticeship is also great place to start. Take a look at our information article
People entering the print industry might start as a print room assistant, or reprographics assistant.
As a new entrant, you will train on-the-job and might also attend college. Relevant courses are available throughout the UK.
Previous experience working in manufacturing production, such as a Process Operator/Machine Operative would be really useful for this career.
Experienced Machine Printers often move into supervisory positions.
Entry requirements for this career vary according to the employer.
Many employers prefer applicants to have GCSEs in subjects such as English, maths and ICT.
To get onto an Intermediate or Advanced Level Apprenticeship, you’ll usually need five GCSEs at grade C/4 or above, possibly including English and maths.
It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.
Some companies prefer to employ applicants with skills gained in the printing industry.
A background in manufacturing production, eg, as a process operator/machine operative, is useful.
Apprenticeships: Get In. Go Far
National Apprenticeship Service (NAS)
Tel: 0800 015 0400
Skills Development Scotland - Modern Apprenticeships
Tel: 0800 9178000
City & Guilds
Address: 1 Giltspur Street, London EC1A 9DD
Tel: 020 7294 2468
Skills for process and manufacturing industries
Address: Centurion Court, 85b Park Drive, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxfordshire OX14 4RY
Tel: 01235 833844
Careers in manufacturing
Address: Unit 1, 12 O'clock Court, Attercliffe Road, Sheffield S4 7WW
Tel: 0114 2720033
Harrison Scott Associates
Recruitment in printing, packaging and paper industries
British Printing Industries Federation (BPIF)
Address: 2 Villiers Court, Meriden Business Park, Copse Drive, Coventry CV5 9RN
Tel: 0845 2507050
Institute of Paper, Printing and Publishing (IP3)
Address: Claremont House, 70-72 Alma Road, Windsor, Berkshire SL4 3EZ
Tel: 0870 3308625
National Skills Academy for Print
Address: 85B Park Drive, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxfordshire OX14 4RY
Tel: 01235 432030
Careers Wales - Welsh Apprenticeships
Tel: 0800 028 4844