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Screen printer

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Summary of occupation

Screen printers use stencils to transfer designs onto clothing, posters, cards and a range of other materials. Stencils are placed on tightly woven mesh screens and a roller or squeegee forces ink through the exposed section of the mesh to print the desired pattern onto the media. Screen printers are responsible for preparing the stencils, mixing inks,ensuring that stencils, inks and objects to be printed are all aligned correctly and operating the printing and drying machines. They must also ensure that printing machines and screens are thoroughly cleaned after each job to avoid contaminating the next printing job with residual inks.

ANZSCO description: Prepares stencils, and sets up and operates  power-driven or hand-operated screen print equipment.
Alternative names: Surface Designer
Specialisations: Screen Printing Stencil Preparer, Textiles Printer
Job prospects: Limited
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

A screen printer needs:

  • creative and artistic flair
  • good eyesight with normal colour vision
  • to enjoy practical and manual work
  • good problem solving skills
  • good interpersonal skills
  • to be able to work under pressure
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Working conditions

Screen printers in Western Australia work in studios, workshops and factories that are generally located in the Perth metropolitan region. These environments are generally well lit and ventilated. Operating printing machines can be noisy and involves some risk of injury, requiring safety standards to be followed. Screen printers work on their feet for long periods, and frequent bending and lifting may be required. Many of these workers are regularly required to work overtime to meet print deadlines. Shift work may be required in some workplaces, which can include nights and weekends. Protective clothing, such as overalls, is often required.

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Salary details

On average, print finishers and screen printers can expect to earn between $800 and $999 per week ($41 600 and $51 999 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience. As a screen printer develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase.

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Tools and technologies

Screen printers can spread ink over stencils either by hand or using special printing machines. Printed materials are then dried by placing them into drying racks or by using dryers which either use hot air or ultraviolet light to speed up the process. Screen printers must mix inks using specific ratios and quantities to produce a sufficient quantity of desired colours, computers, calculators and detailed records of previous printing jobs can be used to assist in this process. They must also use solvents and other cleaning equipment to remove waste and ink build up from machines after each job.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

To become a screen printer you need to complete a formal qualification in printing and graphic arts.

You can complete a traineeship. The screen printing assistant traineeship usually takes 18 months to complete and is available as a school-based traineeship.

You can complete an apprenticeship. The screen printer and stencil preparer apprenticeship usually takes 36 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.

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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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