How Do I Become a Digital Press Operator?

Alex Newth

A digital press is a printing machine used by a computer, which means inkjet and laser printers qualify. Getting a job as a digital press operator is different from becoming an offset printer operator or any other type of printing machine operator, because computer skills are more necessary in this arena than in any other printing arena. Computer skills, along with adaptability and repair skills are required in this job. There are education programs available to those wanting to become a digital press operator, but experience is usually looked at more than a college degree.

A digital printing press can be used to print brochures or other marketing materials.
A digital printing press can be used to print brochures or other marketing materials.

Unlike a person running an offset machine, a digital press operator needs to be able to work with a computer. Traditional print machines force operators to mix inks by hand, ensure the plate pressure is optimal for printing, and to correct many other factors in the printing machine itself. Digital presses force the operator to check light or darkness settings from the computer, select finishing and double-sided printing from the computer screen, and do many other things from the computer itself. In many ways, being a digital press operator is more about working with the computer than the printer.

While most of a digital press operator's work is done from a computer, there will be times when working with the printing machine directly will be required. This is typically done with a copying job, when the digital printer’s platen glass is used instead of an image from the computer. Knowing how to work with a digital printer’s settings will be required in this job.

To become a digital press operator, certain skills are needed aside from being able to work with a computer. Even though the computer does much of the work with digital printing, adaptability is still required. Most print jobs will be different, requiring the operator to set up each job individually and give each job special attention. Repair skills, from knowing how to remove stray bits of paper to being able to replace or repair a fuser unit, also help a person to become a digital press operator because the company will be able to spend less money on repairs.

A college degree is rarely needed to become a digital press operator, because experience in this occupation is typically valued more than a degree. While that is true, getting a degree in digital printing machines will bolster your chances of getting the job and advancing, because it shows you really have an interest in the job and know to run the machines and process print orders. If obtaining a degree or certificate focused on digital printing is impossible, apprenticing is also acceptable.

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