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

  • $900 Weekly Pay
  • 12,600 workers Employment Size
  • Decline Future Growth
  • Medium skill Skill level rating
  • Average unemployment Unemployment
  • 92.4% Full-Time Full-Time Share
  • 39.1 hours Average full-time
  • 44 years Average age
  • 13.5% female Gender Share

The number of Printers stayed fairly stable over the past 5 years and is expected to fall over the next 5 years:
from 12,600 in 2017 to 10,500 by 2022.
There are likely to be around 1,000 job openings over this time from workers leaving and new jobs being created (a small number for an occupation of this size).

  • Size: This is a medium sized occupation.
  • Unemployment: Unemployment was average in 2017.
  • Location: Printers work in many regions of Australia. Many work in Victoria.
  • Industries: Most work in Manufacturing; Information Media and Telecommunications; and Retail Trade.
  • Earnings: Full-time workers earn 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.
  • Full-time: Most work full-time (92.4%, much higher than the all jobs average of 68.4%) showing part-time work may be hard to find.
  • Hours: Full-time workers spend around 39.1 hours per week at work (compared to the all jobs average of 40.0 hours).
  • Age: The average age is 44 years (compared to the all jobs average of 40 years).
  • Gender: 13.5% of workers are female (compared to the all jobs average of 46.7%).

Employment Outlook

Number of Workers

Source: ABS Labour Force Survey, Department of Jobs and Small Business trend data to May 2017 and Department of Jobs and Small Business projections to 2022.
YearNumber of Workers
200717500
200817400
200915700
201019300
201115500
201212700
201315400
201416200
201514800
201612900
201712600
202210500

Weekly Earnings

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

Main Industries

Main Employing Industries (% Share)

Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2017, 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)
Manufacturing83.6
Information Media and Telecommunications5.0
Retail Trade3.0
Wholesale Trade1.8
Other Industries6.6

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 2017, 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
NSW31.431.6
VIC41.226.2
QLD11.019.7
SA6.56.7
WA5.910.8
TAS1.22.0
NT1.81.1
ACT1.01.8

Age Profile

Age Profile (% Share)

Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2017, 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
15-190.9-5.25.2
20-240.5-9.99.9
25-3421.7-23.623.6
35-4427.8-21.721.7
45-5428.9-20.820.8
55-5911.5-8.88.8
60-643.8-6.06.0
65 and Over4.9-4.04.0

Education Level

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.

Before starting a course, check it will provide you with the skills and qualifications you need.

  • Compare undergraduate and postgraduate student experiences and outcomes on the QILT website.
  • Compare Vocational Education and Training (VET) courses, providers and student outcomes on the My Skills website.
  • You might be interested in Printing & Graphic Arts VET training pathways on the AAPathways website.

The course listings on this page are provided by Good Education Group.

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

Knowledge

These are important topics, subjects or knowledge areas.

  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
O*NET is a trademark of the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.
The importance ratings on this page are derived from the US Department of Labor O*NET Database Version 21.2, 51-5112.00 - Printing Press Operators.

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

These are kinds of activities workers regularly do in this job.

  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
O*NET is a trademark of the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.
The importance ratings on this page are derived from the US Department of Labor O*NET Database Version 21.2, 51-5112.00 - Printing Press Operators.

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