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Printing Press Operator

Printing press operators set up and operate sheet- and web-fed presses that print single or multiple colours on paper.

  • Avg. Salary $50,538.00
  • Avg. Wage $25.71
  • Minimum Education High school diploma
  • Outlook below avg
  • Employed < 1500
  • In Demand Lower
Also Known As

Printing Machine Operator

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: Printing Press Operators (7381) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Printing Press Operators (H521) 
  • 2011 NOC: Printing press operators (7381) 
  • 2016 NOC: Printing press operators (7381) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

Average Wage
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
Interest Codes
The Printing Press Operator is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Printing Press Operators

Interest in comparing information to monitor regular press runs for quality consistency using computer control consoles, to make adjustments, and to check samples for ink coverage, alignment and registration; and in removing and cleaning plates at the end of press runs


Interest in setting up and adjusting in-line binding and finishing equipment


Interest in speaking with press crew to direct their activities and ensure that safety procedures are adhered to; and in reviewing job orders to determine job specifications, such as production time, colour sequence and quantities required, and in advising press crew of job specifications

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 Mar 31, 2020

Printing presses range from small, one-man, sheet-fed lithographic presses to large web-offset presses that require several operators. Their duties and responsibilities vary depending on the type of press. In general, press operators:

  • Review job orders to determine production time, colour sequence, quantities required, and other paper-and-ink specifications
  • Load paper, which requires an understanding of paper climatization and the effects of curl on stock usability
  • Install and adjust plates
  • Load and mix ink colours
  • Prepare ink fountains and feeder units
  • Adjust settings to control colour and consistency of reproduction
  • Set up the press and check samples for ink coverage and density, alignment, and registration
  • Monitor quality consistency during production runs and adjust as needed
  • Remove and clean plates after a press run
  • Do press and feeder maintenance

Different problems can arise during a run. Some problems depend on the type of plates, paper, ink, and chemicals used. Others depend on the humidity and temperature in the press room. Press operators must keep presses running to capacity. They also must keep ink and chemicals in the right balance and ensure reproduction meets quality standards.

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Printing press operators usually work in climate-controlled press rooms. Shift work is common. Working overtime to meet print deadlines is part of the job.

Printing press operators stand for long periods. They do a lot of bending and reaching. They lift paper, ink rollers, and other heavy items. Workplace hazards include moving machinery, handling chemicals, and being exposed to solvent fumes and loud noises. They must follow standard safety practices and have a working knowledge of occupational health and safety legislation.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Printing press operators need:

  • Good vision and accurate colour perception
  • Good hand-eye co-ordination
  • Average hearing
  • Mechanical aptitude
  • Attention to detail
  • The ability to stand for long periods
  • Flexibility and an interest in learning new technologies
  • Oral and written communication skills
  • The ability to work under deadline pressure

They should enjoy being methodical in their work, setting up and adjusting presses, and working as team members.

Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Most printing press operators learn their skills on the job. Printing and publishing is an evolving industry. Printing press operators must be prepared to learn new skills. Computer skills and Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) training are definite assets.

There are no standard education requirements for printing press operators. However, employers prefer graduates of related training programs or high school grads with experience operating machines or equipment.

Related Education

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

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 Mar 31, 2020

There is currently no provincial legislation regulating this occupation in Alberta.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Printing press operators work for:

  • Newspaper publishers
  • Magazine publishers
  • Commercial printers
  • Large corporations with in-house printing facilities

Where operating large presses means having a press crew, experienced operators may advance to lead hand, foreman, plant manager, or other supervisory positions.

In Alberta, 80% of people employed as printing press operators work in the Manufacturing [pdf] industry.

The employment outlook [pdf] in this occupation is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Trends and events affecting overall employment, especially in the Manufacturing industry
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation

In Alberta, the 7381: Printing press operators 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.

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

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2020
Printing press operators

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 $15.00 $24.96 $19.51 $19.00
Overall $16.08 $34.14 $25.71 $24.49
Top $23.00 $46.67 $32.56 $30.00

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.

B: Good Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Good Reliability, represents a CV of between 6.01% and 15.00% and/or fewer than 30 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 50% 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


Vacancy Rate

Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Communications
  • Trades, Industrial and Related Training
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2020

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 31, 2020. 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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