Printers set up and operate letterpress, lithographic, flexographic, gravure, newspaper, instant, digital and offset printing presses.

A Certificate III including at least 2 years of on-the-job training, or a Certificate IV, or at least 3 years of relevant experience, is usually needed. Around three in five workers have a Vocational Education and Training (VET) qualification. Sometimes experience or on-the-job training is needed in addition to a qualification.

Tasks

  • setting, adjusting and monitoring substrate-feed mechanisms, delivery mechanisms, inking systems and other printing machine functions
  • mixing ink and solvents to standard, and regulating paper and ink supply during print runs
  • monitoring, evaluating and determining press operations manually and by computer to check print quality standards against proofs and detect malfunctions
  • producing a variety of printed products using relief, lithographic, flexographic and gravure printing presses, and in-line finishing systems
  • preparing plates, blankets and impression cylinders on small offset lithographic printing presses
  • loading paper into feeding mechanisms
  • monitoring machine operations and quality of printing
  • undertaking maintenance, adjustment, repair and cleaning of machines
  • producing and managing digital print images, and transferring and outputting images
  • may set up and operate paper and bookbinding guillotines

Job Titles

  • Printing Machinist
  • Small Offset Printer, or Instant Printer Operator
  • Printing Machinist

    Produces books, magazines, newspapers, brochures, posters, leaflets, packaging materials and stationery using printing presses.

    Specialisations: Flexographic Printing Machinist, Gravure Printing Machinist, Label Printing Machinist, Letterpress Printing Machinist, Lithographic Printing Machinist, Reel Fed Printer, Sheet Fed Printer

  • Small Offset Printer, or Instant Printer Operator

    Sets up and operates small offset printing presses used in instant print shops or for in-house printing.

    Specialisations: Digital Printer

Fast Facts

  • Avg. Weekly Pay

    $900 Before Tax
  • Future Growth

    decline
  • Skill Level

    Certificate III or IV
  • Employment Size

    13700
  • Unemployment

    below average
  • Male Share

    83.4%
  • Female Share

    16.6%
  • Full-Time Share

    90.5%

Find Vacancies

This is a medium sized occupation employing 13,700 workers. Over the past 5 years the number of jobs has fallen.
A fall in the number of jobs is expected in the future. New jobs and turnover from workers leaving may create up to 5,000 job openings over the 5 years to 2020.

  • Printers work in most parts of Australia.
  • They mainly work in: Manufacturing; Administrative and Support Services; and Public Administration and Safety.
  • Full-time work is very common. Full-time workers, on average, work 38.9 hours per week (compared to the all jobs average of 40 hours).
  • Average earnings for full-time workers are around $900 per week (lower than the all jobs average of $1,230). Earnings tend to be lower when starting out and higher as experience grows.
  • The average age is 45 years (compared to the all jobs average of 40 years) and around 5 in 10 workers are aged 45 years or older.
  • Around 8 in 10 workers are male.
  • In 2016, the unemployment rate was below average.

Employment Outlook

Number of Workers

Source: ABS Labour Force Survey, Department of Employment trend data to November 2015 and Department of Employment projections to 2020.
YearNumber of Workers
200513700
200617500
200717700
200816300
200918600
201017100
201113000
201214200
201317600
201415400
201513700
202011600

Weekly Earnings

Full-time Earnings

All Jobs Average

Weekly Earnings (before tax)

Source: Based on ABS Characteristics of Employment survey, August 2015, Cat. No. 6333.0, Customised Report. Median earnings are before tax and do not include superannuation. Earnings can vary greatly depending on the skills and experience of the worker and the demands of the role. These figures should be used as a guide only, not to determine a wage rate.
EarningsPrintersAll Jobs Average
Full-Time Earnings9001230

Hours

Weekly Hours Worked

Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2016, Cat. No. 6291.0.55.003: Customised Report. Hours actually worked by people who usually work full-time, and share of employment by full-time and part-time status, for this job compared to the all jobs average.
CategoryPrintersAll Jobs Average
Full-time90.568.4
Part-time9.531.6
Average Weekly Hours (full-time)38.940

Main Industries

Top Industries

Main Employing Industries (% share)

Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2016, Cat. No. 6291.0.55.003: Customised Report. Industries are based on the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC 06).
Main Employing IndustriesIndustry (% share)
Manufacturing85.4
Administrative and Support Services3
Public Administration and Safety3
Professional, Scientific and Technical Services2.8
Other Industries5.8

States and Territories

  • NSW

  • VIC

  • QLD

  • SA

  • TAS

  • NT

  • ACT

Employment by State and Territory (% share)

Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2016, Cat. No. 6291.0.55.003: Customised Report. Share of workers across Australian States and Territories, in this job compared to the all jobs average.
StatePrintersAll Jobs Average
NSW3831.8
VIC3225.5
QLD4.319.8
SA11.56.8
WA11.211.2
TAS0.72
NT0.11.1
ACT2.21.8

Age Profile

Age Profile (% share)

Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2016, Cat. No. 6291.0.55.003: Customised Report. Age profile of workers in this job compared to the all jobs average.
Age BracketPrintersAll Jobs AverageAll Jobs Average
15-190-5.45.4
20-243.3-9.99.9
25-3425.8-23.423.4
35-4420.9-21.721.7
45-5426.9-21.121.1
55-5914.2-8.78.7
60-646.9-5.95.9
65 and Over2.1-3.83.8

Gender

Male Share

Female Share

Gender (% share)

Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2016, Cat. No. 6291.0.55.003: Customised Report. Male and female share of employment in this job compared to the all jobs average.
CategoryPrintersCategoryAll Jobs Average
Males83.4Males53.6
Females16.6Females46.4

Education Level

Top Education Levels

Highest Level of Education (% share)

Source: ABS, Education and Work (2016). Findings based on use of ABS TableBuilder data. Highest qualification completed by workers in this job (in any field of study). Skill level requirements can change over time, the qualifications needed by new workers might be different from the qualifications of workers already in the job.
Type of QualificationPrintersAll Jobs AverageAll Jobs Average
Post Graduate/Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate0-8.68.6
Bachelor degree0-17.917.9
Advanced Diploma/Diploma17.1-10.110.1
Certificate III/IV51.4-18.918.9
Year 1221-18.718.7
Years 11 & 1010.5-17.717.7
Below Year 100-8.18.1

A Certificate III including at least 2 years of on-the-job training, or a Certificate IV, or at least 3 years of relevant experience, is usually needed.
Around three in five workers have a Vocational Education and Training (VET) qualification. Sometimes experience or on-the-job training is needed in addition to a qualification.

If you are interested in this style of work, there are a wide range of training options available that could lead to this or a similar job.
The pathway that is right for you will depend on your skills and interests.

It is a good idea to speak to industry bodies, employers, and workers to learn more about the skills and qualifications you will need.

Employers look for Printers who are hardworking, reliable and work well in a team.

Knowledge

The topics, subjects, or knowledge areas workers rate as most important are shown below.

  1. Mechanical

    63% Important

    Machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.

  2. Production and Processing

    59% Important

    Raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and ways of making and distributing goods.

  3. Mathematics

    58% Important

    Arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, or statistics.

  4. English Language

    58% Important

    English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.

  5. Design

    55% Important

    Design techniques, tools, and principles used to make detailed technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.

Occupational Information Network Printing Press Operators Opens in a new window
O*NET is a trademark of the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration. The information on this site is derived from the US Department of Labor O*NET Database Version 21.2

Learn about the daily activities, and physical and social demands faced by workers. Explore the values and work styles that workers rate as most important.

Activities

The work activities workers rate as most important are shown below.

  1. Controlling Machines and Processes

    87% Important

    Operate machines or processes either directly or using controls (not including computers or vehicles).

  2. Making Decisions and Solving Problems

    85% Important

    Using information to work out the best solution and solve problems.

  3. Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material

    84% Important

    Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials for errors, problems or defects.

  4. Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events

    84% Important

    Comparing objects, actions, or events, looking for differences between them or changes over time.

  5. Getting Information

    83% Important

    Looking for, getting and understanding different kinds of information.

Occupational Information Network Printing Press Operators Opens in a new window
O*NET is a trademark of the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration. The information on this site is derived from the US Department of Labor O*NET Database Version 21.2

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