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Graphic pre-press trades worker

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Summary of occupation

Graphic pre-press trades workers design layouts, assembling and formatting text and graphic elements, in preparation for printing. They consult with clients to develop a design brief that meets the client's requirements, and is able to be printed without losing quality or exceeding budget constraints. These workers use a range of computer hardware and software to manipulate images and text, selecting the appropriate colours, fonts, sizes and positions to meet the design brief. When the layout has been finalised and proofs have been approved by the client, they will transfer the design to thin metal printing plates. Alternatively, they will send an electronic copy straight to the printer, depending on the technology being used.

ANZSCO description: Manipulates, sets and composes text and graphics into a format suitable for printing and other visual media.
Alternative names: Graphic Pre-press Operator, Graphic Pre-press Technician, Graphic Pre-press Tradesperson
Specialisations: Desktop Publishing Operator
Job prospects: Average
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

A graphic pre-press trades worker needs:

  • good eyesight and normal colour vision
  • good hand-eye coordination
  • to enjoy technical work
  • an interest in typography, art and design
  • the ability to perform detailed work
  • good communication and interpersonal skills.
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Working conditions

These workers usually work in offices or studios at print shops, design companies, newspapers, magazines or publishing companies. They have a high level of contact with people, working with clients, printers and graphic designers. Some may come into contact with toxic chemicals used to create printing plates, however, this is becoming less common with the increasing use of digital technologies replacing these processes. Working hours can vary, depending on the organisation, though working in the evening and on weekends is common. Overtime is also regularly required to meet tight deadlines.

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Salary details

On average, graphic pre-press trades workers can expect to earn between $1 000 and $1 249 per week ($52 000 and $64 999 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience. As a graphic pre-press trades worker develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase.

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Tools and technologies

Graphic pre-press operators use computers and a range of specialist design software to develop templates. They may also use digital cameras, scanners and computer drawing tablets. When the template is finished they will often use small office printers to print a copy, or proof, which the client must approve before the material is sent to printers to create the final batch. In some cases, graphic pre-press operators create metal printing plates, either through a complex process using ultraviolet light and chemical exposure, or increasingly, through simpler electronic techniques, without the need for chemicals.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

To become a graphic pre-press operator you usually need to complete an  apprenticeship. The pre-press technician (operator) apprenticeship usually takes 42 months to complete.

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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Related links

Related videos

Digital pre-press operator  Video Digital pre-press operator Occupation

Digital prepress operators use computer software to prepare material for printing presses by assembling text and graphics into page formats.

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