What Does a Scanner Operator Do?

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  • Written By: A. Leverkuhn
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 17 November 2019
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A scanner operator uses new technology to produce color print materials for employers. The most specialized kinds of scanner operators are involved in using an electronic scanner to produce positive or negative films for lithographic printing. Other kinds of scanner operators may simply be involved in using a conventional scanner machine to change a traditional paper visual image into a digital visual file that may be printed again later, or transmitted electronically.

Most often, scanner operators are engaged in analyzing the quality of scanned materials. This includes evaluating color density and looking carefully at tones, shadows, and other visual information. Scanner operators generally evaluate both light and color to provide a holistic result for visuals, whether these are films or digital images. They look at elements of a photograph, like exposure, to manage contrast for the eventual printed result. In other kinds of visuals, scanner operators may consider physical fading or other attributes as part of overall analysis.

The job may entail a lot of physical use of technology. A scanner operator often loads film into a film holder or chamber. He or she may also use a mouse, keyboard or other controls to set scanner operation precisely. This professional may also be involved in the physical storage of film archives, which may be an intensely physical operation requiring certain amounts of physical strength.


In addition to using an electronic scanner, the scanner operator may also be in charge of manipulating physical printing equipment. In large scanning setups, high quality printers may be sized to produce large items like banners or broadsheets. Scanner operators may need to know how to use these larger printers and other kinds of physical equipment well.

Generally, the scanner operator will be involved in the finer elements of visual production as described above. Scanner operators will be responsible for assessing minute visual details of images. They will often be involved in what’s called “digital archiving,” where documents are scanned and processed, then later stored for eventual use. In both quality assurance and effective archiving, the scanner operator will provide valuable services to an employer in terms of the overall management and distribution of digital or print materials; although these usually consist of photos, they may also include diagrams, or simple text.


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