Digital Print Operator Job Description
Digital print operators use computers to create layouts and printed materials that are sent to printing presses for production. Their job is to listen to client specifications and adjust attributes such as size and resolution to create a high-quality finished product. People who have a strong eye for detail and who enjoy working with graphic design and technology can thrive as digital print operators. Every day, they manage multiple projects with varying timelines. Digital print operators can work full or part time and are typically employed in the commercial printing, marketing, and publishing industries.
Digital Print Operator Duties and Responsibilities
No two digital print operators are exactly alike, as specific skills vary from employer to employer. However, after analyzing online job postings, we identified several core duties and responsibilities common to the job:
Process Customer Print Orders
Digital print operators process customer files according to desired specifications. They may receive printing requests in person or through email. On a daily basis, they prioritize work assignments based on deadlines, overall company workload, machine capability, and client needs. Once orders are finished, they complete all necessary paperwork.
Provide Customer Service
It is common for digital print operators to provide customer service. They answer phones, take orders, record customer logs, and interact with clients directly. Digital print operators are also responsible for following up with customers if a desired print job needs to be adjusted.
Operate Digital Printing Equipment
It is common for digital print operators to use digital duplicating machines. They use this equipment to create high-quality print copies from a variety of source files. Digital print operators use large and small document printers, binding equipment, and copiers. They also operate digital color equipment and standard document finishing equipment.
Troubleshoot Printer Issues
Performing minor repairs and routine equipment maintenance is another task digital print operators manage. They also troubleshoot any printer issues that arise. Depending on the problem, a digital print operator may use software or hardware to complete needed repairs.
Restock Printing Supplies
When necessary, digital print operators replace ink, paper, toner, labels, and additional printing materials as they run out. They are responsible for ensuring that all needed supplies are fully stocked. Depending on the type of computer printing programs and equipment used, a print operator orders labels and other components to keep operations going efficiently. They are normally responsible for creating or implementing a supply purchase schedule to make sure all work deadlines are maintained.
Digital Print Operator Skills and Qualifications
Digital print operators should have an aptitude for visual color and print design along with strong attention to detail. Employers typically seek candidates with a high school diploma and a minimum of two years of digital printing experience. The following skills are essential to getting the job done:
- Print design – digital print operators need to make creative page layouts and process files to send them to a digital press
- Color management – it’s essential that digital print operators are well-versed in color theory and processing colors for print graphics
- Computer skills – digital print operators need to be well-versed in various computer programs focused on digital printing
- Physical fitness – digital print operators routinely lift 25 pounds or more and must occasionally move 50 pounds or more
- Troubleshooting – when equipment or printing jobs malfunction, digital print operators need to fix them
- Customer service – clearly presenting print information and interacting with customers, clients, and fellow employees is essential for digital print operators
- Time management – multitasking and fulfilling print orders in an organized, timely fashion is a critical requirement for digital print operators
Digital Print Operator Education and Training
The only direct education requirement for becoming a digital print operator is a high school diploma or GED. However, many employers prefer candidates to have some additional training or relevant hands-on experience. Employers look for applicants who have an excellent understanding of color theory. Many colleges and technical schools offer relevant diploma and certificate programs that specialize in traditional and digital print technology. These programs feature coursework in presswork, electronic publishing, and electronic imaging.
Digital Print Operator Salary and Outlook
According to PayScale, the median hourly wage for digital print operators is $15.64. The lowest 10 percent of earners make less than $11 per hour. The highest 10 percent of earners make more than $23 per hour. Some employers offer comprehensive benefits such as health, dental, and vision insurance to candidates who work full time.
We searched the web for the best industry resources to help you continue exploring a career as a digital print operator. Here are more ways to learn whether becoming one is right for you:
Printing Industries of America – one of the largest graphic arts associations, PIA offers networking and growth opportunities for digital printers
Mastering Digital Printing – read this book to learn the latest advanced printing and image editing techniques used by successful digital print operators
Color and Its Reproduction: Fundamentals for the Digital Imaging and Printing Industry – this ultimate guide explores the principles of color theory and color reproduction, essential knowledge for digital print operators
Digital Printing Start-Up Guide – pick up this book to learn the basics of printing and get expert advice on improving digital imaging and photo printing
Specialty Graphic Imaging Association – SGIA is the only professional association for specialty imaging. Member benefits include the SGIA Journal and information about new products, business practices, and market trends
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