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If you want to become a print production manager then you need to have a working knowledge of print and production processes, an acute attention to detail, leadership ability, the ability to prepare detailed production schedules, and to work under stressful circumstances. Exceptional interpersonal, active listening, and communication skills are also important functions for those aspiring to become a print production manager. A knowledge of print production and printing costs is also likely to be required. Some print production managers need at least a cursory knowledge of marketing and the different types of scheduling software. The educational requirements for this position are typically an associate's or bachelor's degree, although some managers have worked their way up through the ranks, learning the necessary skills along the way.
You will likely be responsible for planning and implementing the print production operations of a particular company or, if you work for a commercial printing production facility, for a number of different clients and companies. This type of work will likely require that you have some working knowledge of desktop publishing, pre-print, and printing processes. If you work at an on-site printing facility, you will likely be working with the same printing and production staff at all times, which makes communication and interpersonal relations a bit easier. If the company for which you work does not have an in-house printing facility, then the ability to work with off-site printing or production vendors is necessary. Dealing with multiple off-site vendors is where exceptional communication and interpersonal skills will serve you best.
Marketing skills may be necessary. The specific functions, capacities, and responsibilities of print production facilities vary widely from company to company. Sometimes the responsibilities of a print production manager include supervising a staff of printers or technicians. Under other circumstances, you might work on a project from concept through to completion while supervising writers, production artists, designers, photographers, and illustrators. In either case, the main function of the job is tracking a project and doing what is necessary to deliver it on time and within budget. This requires exceptional management, communication, and organizational skills.
To become a print production manager, you will probably need well developed communication skills. Active listening is going to be a big part of this job, as you will be working closely with people at the executive level as well as entry level assistants and everyone in between. Some people are not aware of how the print production process works, so the ability to articulate sometimes ambiguous client concepts and directions into a clear and concise plan of action will serve you well in this position. The ability to communicate clearly in writing is also a necessary skill for this position.
Knowing how to schedule several different projects and keep all work flowing in order to meet various deadlines is another required skill. If you will be working with off-site vendors, this position requires that you be aware of the costs of various services, like desktop publishing services, pre-press, and printing service. Estimating the sometimes complex fees and charges of vendors and services while keeping them vendors working within specified budgetary constraints and meeting deadlines may also be part of this job.
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