What they do
Graphic pre-press trades workers design layouts, assembling and formatting text and graphic elements, in preparation for printing. They consult with clients to develop a design brief that meets the client's requirements, and is able to be printed without losing quality or exceeding budget constraints. These workers use a range of computer hardware and software to manipulate images and text, selecting the appropriate colours, fonts, sizes and positions to meet the design brief. When the layout has been finalised and proofs have been approved by the client, they will transfer the design to thin metal printing plates. Alternatively, they will send an electronic copy straight to the printer, depending on the technology being used.
These workers usually work in offices or studios at print shops, design companies, newspapers, magazines or publishing companies. They have a high level of contact with people, working with clients, printers and graphic designers. Some may come into contact with toxic chemicals used to create printing plates, however, this is becoming less common with the increasing use of digital technologies replacing these processes. Working hours can vary, depending on the organisation, though working in the evening and on weekends is common. Overtime is also regularly required to meet tight deadlines.
Tools and technologies
Graphic pre-press operators use computers and a range of specialist design software to develop templates. They may also use digital cameras, scanners and computer drawing tablets. When the template is finished they will often use small office printers to print a copy, or proof, which the client must approve before the material is sent to printers to create the final batch. In some cases, graphic pre-press operators create metal printing plates, either through a complex process using ultraviolet light and chemical exposure, or increasingly, through simpler electronic techniques, without the need for chemicals.
How do I become one?
Education and training
To become a graphic pre-press trades worker you usually need to undertake an apprenticeship in graphic pre-press. The apprenticeship usually takes 42 months to complete.
Apprenticeships and traineeships
As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer, enabling you to complete training towards a nationally recognised qualification. You spend time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider.
You can do an apprenticeship or traineeship if you are a school-leaver, re-entering the workforce or as an adult or mature-aged person wishing to change careers. You can even begin your apprenticeship or traineeship while you're still at school.
If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.
Required registration and licensing