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How Do I Become a Lithographer?

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  • Written By: T. Carrier
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 19 June 2014
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Lithography involves a career focus in printing images or text, and it has witnessed various transformations over the years. If one wishes to become a lithographer, an understanding of basic equipment and basic techniques is essential. This knowledge can be obtained in higher education courses that focus on lithographic subjects like photography and printing presses. A degree from a two-year technical institution or a four-year university in lithographic training might prove invaluable, as would a position as an apprentice in a lithographic business. After one has become a lithographer, employment opportunities may be found in both the government and the private sector.

Lithographers work with printing systems. Their main objective is to copy text, drawings, or symbols from a stone or metal lithograph plate onto a surface. Practitioners may also be responsible for crafting the image or text onto the plate via chemical means. Any object containing a print will likely be the work of a lithographer, including commercial packaging, books, and newspapers or magazines.

Higher education could provide interested individuals with an advantage in lithographic employment. Major universities, art schools, and vocational institutes all generally offer education and training to become a lithographer. These classes also help individuals keep up to date on technological advances in the field, as well as prepare students for maintenance-based or other problematic issues that may arise.

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For hands-on training, the potential lithographer can seek an apprenticeship with an established printer. During this training period, the individual can apply actual techniques with the guidance of an experienced professional. An apprentice will also get a glimpse of the supervisory process that he or she may need to assume at a latter stage in a lithographic career.

Individuals seeking to become lithographers must possess proficiency in various areas. For one, familiarity with operations of various manufacturing equipment is essential. Lithographers routinely handle printing presses, plate makers, and binders. They also will handle cameras, film, and other photographic equipment. Computer design proficiency may be necessary to create a lithographic image, or lithograph.

Due to the meticulous nature of the work, lithographers must also have acute vision and a strong eye for detail. Handling of the heavy equipment may necessitate an individual with better than average strength as well. Once a prospect has gained sufficient experience, he or she will likely be asked to take on a supervisory role.

Once preparatory steps have been achieved, a potential lithographer may seek employment in a number of arenas. Those with creative inclinations can take their graphic design skills and work for commercial manufacturers or other similar outlets. Some artists even specialize in using lithographic techniques in art printing. Any company that distributes written materials will also likely employ lithographers, and official job titles may range from ad compositor to photoengraving printer. Individuals who have become a lithographer may work in the private sector or in a government position, generating materials for government agencies or the military.

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