- Work in the printing industry, getting artwork from a client and supplying the printing plates used on a press
- You'll need creativity, IT skills, an eye for detail, work quickly and accurately under pressure
- You could progress to become a pre-press manager or move into print administration jobs
As a pre-press operator, you'll supply the printing plates used on a press after receiving artwork from a client.
- Using desktop publishing and graphics software to create artwork
- Scanning and retouching images
- Checking a whole document for accuracy
- Preparing artwork for transfer to film
- Transferring the final image from film onto printing plates using an imagesetter (known as platemaking)
You may work at a printing firm or in a specialised pre-press or design company. If you work for a printer, you may have to wear protective clothing when handling inks or cleaning and maintaining machinery.
For this role, you'll need design skills and knowledge, thoroughness and attention to detail, knowledge of computer operating systems, hardware and software, knowledge of manufacturing production and processes, the ability to work well with others, good initiative, the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure, and flexibility and openness to change.
You could do a college course to teach you some of the skills and knowledge you need in this job, such as a Level 2 Award or Level 3 Certificate in Printing and Graphic Communications, or Level 2 or 3 Certificate in Understanding the Print Environment.
You could get into this job through an intermediate apprenticeship in print and printed packaging - pre-press, or a print technician advanced apprenticeship.
Direct application is possible if you have a good standard of education to apply directly for pre-press operator jobs. GCSEs in maths, English, art and IT may be advantageous when looking for work, and some employers might ask for A levels or similar qualifications.
Alternatively, you could do specialist printing, packaging, and graphic communications courses through the British Printing Industries Federation.
Some knowledge of desktop publishing software will be useful, like InDesign, Illustrator, or QuarkXPress.
With training and experience, you could become a pre-press manager or move into print administration jobs like estimator or production controller. Most employers in the pre-press industry will offer training, either through a local college or short courses offered by the British Printing Industries Federation.