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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.

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used.

Here is how this occupation has been classified over time.

2006 NOC

  • 9472.5: Pre-press Technicians

2006 NOC-S

  • J182: Camera, Platemaking and Other PrePress Occupations

2011 NOC

  • 9472: Camera, platemaking and other prepress occupations

2016 NOC

  • 9472: Camera, platemaking and other prepress occupations

2021 NOC

  • 94151: Camera, platemaking and other prepress occupations

2023 OaSIS

  • 94151.03: Prepress technicians, platemakers, proofmakers, and pre-flight/file-preparation operators
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
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg

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.

Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Pre-press Technicians

2006 NOC: 9472.5

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group

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

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

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 for this NOC group 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 About Interests


Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Traits & Skills
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
  • Minimum Education High school diploma

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

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated May 06, 2016
  • Certification Provincially Regulated

Certain professional titles or duties within this occupation are protected by provincial legislation. Requirements vary if you use these titles or perform these duties.

The related legislation is shown below. If there are multiple related legislations, select a certification heading to learn about each one.

Certified Technician

Certified Technicians are applied science, information technology, or engineering technology professionals. They perform routine technical procedures with occasional direct supervision. They also may assume limited responsibility for decision-making processes.


Under Alberta’s Engineering and Geoscience Professions Act [pdf] and ASET Regulation [pdf], you must register as a 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 register if you do not call yourself a Certified Technician.

For information on what you need and other details, visit the certification profile Certified Technician.

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.

Industry Concentration

This section shows the industries where the majority of people in this occupation work. The data is based on the 2016 Census.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups.

In the 9472: Camera, platemaking and other prepress occupations occupational group, 78.8% of people work in:

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation
  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the industry or industries from the previous list

In Alberta, the 9472: Camera, platemaking and other prepress occupations occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 0% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 0 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: 2019-2023 Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

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

Pre-press technicians are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 9472: Camera, platemaking and other prepress occupations.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Camera, platemaking and other prepress occupations

2016 NOC: 9472
Average Wage
Per Hour
Average Salary
Per Year
Average Hours
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

2021 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 9472 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

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.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

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.

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $18.00 $27.98 $20.82 $20.00
Overall $22.00 $33.20 $28.06 $29.25
Top $25.00 $43.27 $34.18 $32.08

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.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

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
Vacancy Rate
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:

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

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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