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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.

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

  • 7381: Printing Press Operators

2006 NOC-S

  • H521: Printing Press Operators

2011 NOC

  • 7381: Printing press operators

2016 NOC

  • 7381: Printing press operators

2021 NOC

  • 73401: Printing press operators

2023 OaSIS

  • 73401.00: Printing press operators
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
  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg

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.

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.

Printing Press Operators

2006 NOC: 7381

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group

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

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 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.

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.

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For

Printing press operators

2016 NOC: 7381

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 36 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Nov 12, 2021 and Jun 14, 2024.

Review these skills to learn:

  • Whether or not this occupation matches your skill set
  • What training you may need to get these skills
  • What skills to highlight in your resumé, cover letter, and interview.
Health benefits: Health care plan
Tasks: Monitor regular press run for quality using computer control console
Attention to detail
Health benefits: Dental plan
Tasks: Set up press and operate at slow speed to check samples
Tasks: Review job orders to determine job specifications such as production time, colour sequence and quantities required, and advise press crew of these specifications
Type of Press: Flexographic press
Ability to distinguish between colours
Tasks: Mount plates or cylinders and make necessary adjustments
Tasks: Remove and clean plates and cylinders at end of press run
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2020
  • Minimum Education High school diploma

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.

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 Mar 31, 2020
  • Certification Not Regulated

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.

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 7381: Printing press operators occupational group, 86.8% 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 7381: Printing press operators occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 2% from 2021 to 2025. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 21 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: 2021-2025 Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

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

Related Alberta Job Postings
Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2020

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.

Printing press operators

2016 NOC: 7381
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 7381 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.

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.

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 $16.00 $27.30 $20.90 $21.00
Overall $21.00 $35.38 $28.12 $29.00
Top $24.00 $47.44 $36.13 $37.00

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.

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

Public Administration

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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