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Pre-Press Technician

Pre-press technicians use computer software and computer-controlled machines and equipment to generate and combine text, graphics and other visual elements to prepare copy for printing.

  • Avg. Salary $50,603.00
  • Avg. Wage $24.85
  • Minimum Education High school diploma
  • Outlook N/A
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

Average Wage
  • Certification Provincially Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
NOC & Interest Codes
The Pre-Press Technician is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Pre-press Technicians
NOC code: 9472.5

Interest in controlling systems to alter shapes, sizes and positions of illustrations and text electronically


Interest in compiling information to perform colour separations, retouching and editing


Interest in planning page layouts

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Updated May 06, 2016

After authors write the text and artists or graphic designers translate ideas into images, publishing materials such as books, magazines and pamphlets involves the following 3 stages:

  • The pre-press stage includes the assembly of design elements, such as illustrations, typography, photo manipulations, scanning, imposition, proofreading, preparing files (known as pre-flighting) for press, digital printing, and sign and promotional or multimedia publishing.
  • The press stage involves using digital printers or printing presses to produce single- to full-colour copies.
  • The binding and finishing stage includes folding, cutting, collating and binding large sheets of paper in various ways and packaging for delivery.

This profile describes work done in the pre-press stage. For information about work performed in other publication stages, see the Digital Printing Machine Operator, Printing Press Operator and Binding and Finishing Machine Operator occupational profiles.

Most printers use computer systems to enter text, format it, add graphics and create a layout design, all in 1 operation. In general, electronic (desktop or digital) publishing specialists:

  • discuss requirements and specifications with the producers of information to be published
  • use computer software to prepare sample layouts for approval
  • key in textual material according to specifications for typeface, point size, column width, line justification, depth of copy on page, headings, location of columns, page numbering, table of contents and indexing
  • spellcheck copy and correct errors
  • use page layout software to format and place text and pictures on the page
  • combine, convert and prepare various types of digital files for printing
  • produce final copies according to design specifications
  • store copies of publications on paper, film or electronic storage media.

In process colour printing, visible colours in art work or photographs must be colour separated to create printing plates or cylinders. The nature of the plate or cylinder will depend on the type of printing press to be used. Lithographic or planographic processes require plates that have image and non-image areas on the same plane, separated by chemical interaction. Computer systems or computer-to-plate (CTP) devices often are used to transfer digital images directly onto lithographic plates or directly to a specially equipped printing press. Newer digital presses do not use printing plates; they produce images directly from electronic files.

In large printing shops pre-press technicians may specialize in specific processes:

  • Scanner operators use flatbed or drum scanning equipment to capture images digitally. The original photograph or slide is scanned to create a digital image that can be manipulated using colour correction software. Scanner operators ensure that each image is colour corrected and has the correct tone reproduction curves for the printing process
  • Customer proofing specialists use computer files to create laser or plotter prints for customer approval. They check proofs for colour matching, typing errors and page impositions, and rule, trim and fold proofs to represent the final printed piece
  • Platemakers take approved electronic files and position them onto a printing plate. They expose, process and quality approve the plate before sending it to press operators.

In most printing shops in Alberta pre-press technicians are responsible for the whole pre-press process from opening the files to plate making, which is mostly automatic.

When necessary, pre-press technicians may modify film or computer files to produce the best possible print results. They must understand the entire production process to make appropriate decisions.

Working Conditions
Updated May 06, 2016

Working conditions vary. In large companies, pre-press technicians may work in specialized departments, such as the design or desktop publishing department, the pre-press department or the digital output operations department. Most printing companies employ 20 to 50 people and have 1 pre-press department for all pre-press operations. Sign and promotional companies may employ 5 to 50 employees.

Shift work may be required, and overtime often is required to meet deadlines.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated May 06, 2016

Pre-press technicians need the following characteristics:

  • accurate colour perception
  • analytical skills
  • full body mobility and good hand-eye co-ordination
  • the ability to pay careful attention to details
  • the ability to work under the pressure of deadlines
  • tact and discretion when dealing with customers and their materials
  • a willingness to keep up to date with changing hardware and software technology.

They should enjoy operating computers and related equipment and working with complex electronic files.

Educational Requirements
Updated May 06, 2016

Many pre-press technicians have learned on the job, however; technological advances are making this route increasingly difficult. Related computer skills are essential for new entrants into this field. Employers generally prefer to hire applicants who have related post-secondary training or several years of practical experience.

Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

Northern Alberta Institute of Technology

Southern Alberta Institute of Technology

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated May 06, 2016

Certified Technician

Under general supervision, certified technicians undertake the routine application of industry recognized codes, standards, procedures and practices. They use established engineering, geoscience or applied science principles and methods of problem solving. Duties may typically include testing, troubleshooting, inspecting, calibrating, drafting, maintaining, modelling, compiling, estimating, surveying, ensuring quality control, supervising in the field and working in sales.


Under Alberta's Engineering and Geoscience Professions Act (PDF) and ASET Regulation (PDF), you must be a registered member of the Association of Science and Engineering Technology Professionals of Alberta (ASET) to use the title Certified Technician (C.Tech.). You do not have to be registered if you do not call yourself a Certified Technician.

What You Need

Registration requires:

  • graduation from an applied science, information technology or engineering technology program
  • at least 2 years of acceptable technical experience
  • 3 professional references
  • submission of a competency report, demonstrating at least 3 C.Tech. competencies
  • successful completion of ASET's Professional Practice Exam
  • demonstration of proficiency in English.

For detailed official information, contact the regulatory organization below.

Working in Alberta

Technicians who are certified by and in good standing with a regulatory organization elsewhere in Canada may be eligible for certification in Alberta if certified technicians in the 2 jurisdictions have similar responsibilities and competencies. For more information, see What if I am already certified in another province or territory? and the Alberta regulatory organization above.

To learn about the certification process for internationally educated technicians, see Mechanical Engineering Technician Certification Process (PDF) on

Contact Details

The Association of Science and Engineering Technology Professionals of Alberta (ASET)
1600 - 9888 Jasper Ave.
Edmonton, Alberta  T5J 5C6
Phone: 780-425-0626
Toll-free in Alberta: 1-800-272-5619
Fax: 780-424-5053

Employment & Advancement
Updated May 06, 2016

Pre-press technicians are employed by:

  • daily and weekly newspapers
  • commercial printers
  • large corporations
  • government departments
  • advertising, sign and promotional manufacturing companies.

Some desktop publishing specialists are self-employed and contract out their services.

There is an increased need for people skilled in colour correction, layouts, typography, image manipulation and pre-flighting files.

Experienced pre-press technicians may become designers, customer service representatives, estimators (who quote prices for customers), production controllers, production managers, or marketing and sales personnel.

Pre-press technicians are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 9472: Camera, platemaking and other prepress Occupations. In Alberta, 79% of people employed in this classification work in the Manufacturing (PDF) industry.

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the manufacturing industry)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated May 06, 2016

Camera, platemaking and other prepress occupations
NOC code: 9472

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $12.15 $24.00 $19.97 $20.00
Overall $16.75 $28.67 $24.85 $26.00
Top $17.00 $32.00 $27.39 $28.00

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

C: Lower Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Lower Reliability, represents a CV of between 15.01% and 33.00% and/or if fewer than 20 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 33% of all estimated employment for the occupation.

Industry Information

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years


Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties


Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months


2015 Vacancy Rate

Related High School Subjects
  • Fine Arts
    • Visual Arts
  • English Language Arts
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Communications
Other Sources of Information
Updated May 06, 2016

Canadian Printing Industries Association website:

Printing and Graphics Industries Association of Alberta (PGIA) website:

For more information on career planning, education and jobs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Mar 24, 2016. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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