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Printing machinist

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Summary of occupation

Printing machinists set up and operate the large industrial machinery that is used in the printing industry. A Printing Machinst's involvement with these machines may involve fixing plates and loading inks into the machine, undertaking repairs or maintenance, and checking the consistency of the machine's results. They may also clean the machine and the surrounding work area.

ANZSCO description: Produces books, magazines, newspapers,  brochures, posters, leaflets, packaging materials and stationery  using printing presses.
Alternative names: Litho Printer, Print Finisher
Specialisations: Flexographic Printing Machinist, Gravure Printing Machinist, Label Printing Machinist, Letterpress Printing Machinist, Lithographic Printing Machinist, Reel Fed Printer, Sheet Fed Printer
Job prospects: Average
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

Printing machinists need:

  • an interest in practical and manual work
  • problem-solving skills
  • good organisational skills
  • strong communication skills
  • an eye for detail
  • a mechanical aptitude
  • the ability to work to strict deadlines
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Working conditions

Printing machinists generally work in industrial printing factories with large machines, which may be loud, dirty, or require the person operating them to get dirty, with the potential for ink to be spilled. Depending on what kind of printing they are involved in, they may need to work irregular hours, depending on the deadlines for work and the desired shelf-date or time of the publication they are printing.

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Salary details

On average, printing machinists, classified under printers, 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 printing machinist develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase.

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Tools and technologies

Printing machinists work primarily on and with large industrial printing machinery like letterpress, lithographic, flexographic and gravure printing presses (including both single and multi-colour presses), other machines that cut, fold, staple, stitch and trim paper, and binding machines for bringing all the elements of a publication together as a finished product.

Printing machinists are also generally required to be familiar with the materials onto which they may be printing, including different types of paper and card, or other materials like plastics or metal. They may also be required to work with a range of other materials that assist in the printing process, such as numerous inks, oils and gums, and lubricants that keep the machine in good running order.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

To become a printing machinist you usually need to complete an apprenticeship. The print machinist (digital), (flexographic), (gravure), (lithographic) or (relief) 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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