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Job Photographs

  • A man in a black t-shirt is loading paper into a machine.

    Loading the machine.

  • A man in a black t-shirt is pressing buttons on a large machine.

    The machine has to be adjusted for each print run.

  • A man in a black t-shirt is looking at a document.

    Checking the prints after a test print run.

  • A man in a black t-shirt is pressing buttons on a machine.  A large document is in front of him, on the machine.

    You'll be spending a lot of time on your feet in a job like this.

  • A man in a black t-shirt is looking at a large sheet of paper.

    An eye for detail and colour is essential in this career.

  • A printing machine.

    The machine in action.

  • Machine Printer

Machine Printer


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

Work Activities

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

Entry routes

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 'Apprenticeships – How do I apply', for more details about applying for apprenticeship positions.

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.

Work Experience

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.

Adult Opportunities

Age limits

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.

Further Information

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



Proskills UK

Skills for process and manufacturing industries

Address: Centurion Court, 85b Park Drive, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxfordshire OX14 4RY

Tel: 01235 833844




Careers in manufacturing


GQA Qualifications

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


Croeso i Gyrfa Cymru

Dewiswch iaith


Welcome to Careers Wales

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