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Pre-press operator

Alternative titles for this job include Pre-press technician

Pre-press operators work in the printing industry, getting artwork from a client and supplying the printing plates used on a press.

Average salary (a year)

£16,000 Starter


£30,000 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

38 to 40 a week

You could work

9am to 5pm

How to become

Explore the different ways to get into this role.

How to become Pre-press operator

You can get into this job through:

  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • applying directly
  • specialist courses run by industry bodies


You could do a college course, which would teach you some of the skills and knowledge you need in this job. Relevant courses include:

  • Level 2 Certificate in Pre Press for Print
  • Level 3 Certificate in Understanding the Print Environment

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course

More Information


You can do a press operative intermediate or a print technician advanced apprenticeship.

These usually take between 24 and 36 months to complete as a mix of learning on the job and study.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship
  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship

More Information

Direct Application

You'll need a good general standard of education to apply directly for pre-press operator jobs. GCSEs in maths, English, art and IT may give you an advantage when looking for work. Some employers may ask for A levels or equivalent qualifications.

Other Routes

You can do specialist printing, packaging and graphic communications courses through the British Printing Industries Federation.

More Information

Career tips

Some knowledge of desktop publishing software will be useful.

Further information

You can find out more about careers in print from the British Printing Industries Federation.

What it takes

Find out what skills you’ll use in this role.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

  • design skills and knowledge
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • knowledge of computer operating systems, hardware and software
  • knowledge of manufacturing production and processes
  • the ability to work well with others
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • persistence and determination
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

What you’ll do

Discover the day to day tasks you’ll do in this role.

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

In your day-to-day tasks you could:

  • use desktop publishing and graphics software to create artwork
  • scan and retouch images
  • check a whole document for accuracy
  • prepare artwork for transfer to film
  • transfer the final image from film onto printing plates

Working environment

You could work in a creative studio or in an office.

You may need to wear protective clothing.

Career path and progression

Look at progression in this role and similar opportunities.

Career path and progression

You could become a pre-press manager or move into print administration jobs like estimator or production controller.

Most employers in the pre-press industry will offer training, either through a local college or short courses offered by the British Printing Industries Federation.

Current opportunities

Find apprenticeships, courses and jobs available near you.

Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

Apprentice Digital Printer

  • Wage: £15,392 a year Annually
  • Location: Hampton Lovett Industrial Estate, Lovett Road, Droitwich Spa

Print Operative Apprentice

  • Wage: £16,993.60 a year Annually
  • Location: 2 Chester Road, Colmworth Business Park, Eaton Socon, St. Neots

Courses In England

Graphic Communication

  • Start date: 01 September 2024
  • Location: BEDFORD

Graphic Communication

  • Start date: 05 September 2024
  • Location: Lyme Regis

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