Paper Matters Blog
Careers in Print: What to Expect as a Pre-Press Technician

Pre-press Technician:  Clete Landers

Company:  Springdot – Cincinnati

Springfield, OH

What education or training is required to be qualified as a pre-press technician?
The ideal candidate will know Adobe Creative Suite programs; specifically, Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Acrobat and Enfocus Pitstop.

Even though those skills will be necessary, this is not by nature an artistic position.
There will be some math involved and lots of programs to learn, so an interest in technology and aptitude to understand software programs will help a lot.

What type of schools offers the training needed for this position?
Art schools and technical schools should have the right programs to learn design and skills needed for prepress. An Associate degree should be enough to get a foot in the door; however, I learned all of these programs and more on the job, so a degree may not be necessary. If you have a willingness to learn, and the right attitude, you will be able succeed.

What are the physical demands of the work?
It’s mostly computer work, but occasionally you will need to change out heavy rolls of paper needed for proofing. The ability to lift up to 35 lbs would be the most physical demand.

The most intensive demand would be the ability to work overtime and long hours. This is often times required.

Are there safety issues to consider for this career?
Platemaking may involve some chemicals, and cutting proofs will involve sharp objects, but there are very few safety precautions for this position.

Do you work shifts and what is typical shift requirement of an entry level person?
Most places do work shifts. Always be sure to ask about it if that is important to you because an entry-level position may start in night shifts. However, there are many businesses that are only open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., it all depends on the print shop.

My hours are 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. I did ask if there was an opportunity in second shift but was told that the position was already filled due to customer requirements, it never hurts to ask.

What are the things that you most enjoy about your work day?
I like the graphic communications business, specifically printing. The whole business is about communication, and as a behind the scenes person, I enjoy being able to help get the word out in the best way possible. The work itself is fun and interesting. You get to use skills and do some problem-solving. With the constant change in technology, there is always more to learn.

Are there any specific interests or skills that fit well for this position?
If you enjoy working with images and illustrations, building pages and troubleshooting, this is an excellent way to get paid for it. We provide the method for mass communication.

What are the most demanding requirements of the position?
It’s all mental. There are things to remember that are program-specific and customer-specific. The position is very collaborative and dependent on other departments. Over time you will learn about press work, bindery work, about paper and ink, graphic design, color theory and customer service.

What is the income range for a pre-press technician?
According to, the average entry-level hourly rate is $15.67.

Depending on your location, it varies. In Ohio, the average pre-press technician will make somewhere in the neighborhood of $38-40,000 per year.

Experienced workers can make from $20.66 on average to over $26 per hour. That ends up going above the $50,000 range.

What changes do you foresee coming in the next 10 years that might affect this type of work?
There are always cool advancements in technology within the field. That keeps the job interesting, especially for those who enjoy learning and embrace change. The big challenges will have to do with customer service and the fact that so many printers are getting ready to retire—this will lead to a major gap in experience.
There are a lot of opportunities right now for anyone interested. I think this generation will surpass the previous one with all the technology advancements in this industry.

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