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Career and Education Opportunities for Printing Press Machine Operators in Elgin, Illinois

Printing press machine operators can find many career and educational opportunities in the Elgin, Illinois area. About 9,970 people are currently employed as printing press machine operators in Illinois. By 2016, this is expected to shrink by 2% to about 9,820 people employed. This is better than the nation as a whole, where employment opportunities for printing press machine operators are expected to shrink by about 5.5%. Printing press machine operators generally set up or operate various types of printing machines, such as offset, letterset, or gravure presses or screen printers to produce print on paper or other materials.

Income for printing press machine operators is about $14 per hour or $30,700 per year on average in Illinois. Nationally, their income is about $15 hourly or $32,170 annually. Incomes for printing press machine operators are not quite as good as in the overall category of Book Binding and Printing in Illinois, and better than the overall Book Binding and Printing category nationally.

There are sixty-one schools of higher education in the Elgin area, including two within twenty-five miles of Elgin where you can get a degree to start your career as a printing press machine operator. Printing press machine operators usually hold a high school diploma or GED, so you can expect to spend only a short time training to become a printing press machine operator if you already have a high school diploma.

CAREER DESCRIPTION: Printing Press Machine Operator

Printing Press Machine Operator video from the State of New Jersey Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development

In general, printing press machine operators set up or operate various types of printing machines, such as offset, letterset, or gravure presses or screen printers to produce print on paper or other materials.

Printing press machine operators push buttons, turn handles or move controls and levers to start and control printing machines. They also reposition printing plates, adjust pressure rolls, or otherwise adjust machines to further optimize print quality, using knobs, handwheels, or hand tools. Equally important, printing press machine operators have to set and adjust speed, temperature and positions and pressure tolerances of equipment. They are often called upon to clean and lubricate printing machines and components, using oil, solvents, brushes, rags, and hoses. They are expected to decide on and install printing plates and cylinders in machines according to given requirements, using hand tools. Finally, printing press machine operators pour or spread paint, ink and other materials into reservoirs or color holders of printing units, making measurements and adjustments to control color and viscosity.

Every day, printing press machine operators are expected to be able to see details at a very fine level of focus. It is also important that they listen to and understand others in meetings.

It is important for printing press machine operators to blend and test paint, inks and solvents in line with types of material being printed and work order specifications. They are often called upon to remove printed materials from presses, using handtrucks, electric lifts, or hoists, and transport them to drying, storage or finishing areas. They also inspect and examine printed products for print clarity, color accuracy, conformance to given requirements, and external defects. They are sometimes expected to monitor stocks of materials such as paper and metal to maintain supplies during equipment operation. Somewhat less frequently, printing press machine operators are also expected to monitor feeding and racking processes of presses to maintain specified operating levels and to uncover malfunctions, making adjustments as needed.

Printing press machine operators sometimes are asked to pack and label cartons, boxes, or bins of finished products. They also have to be able to ready and treat lithographic plates with various chemicals to wash and preserve plates and fix images and attach cloth to take-up rollers, placing it in feeding position and threading it through equipment as needed. And finally, they sometimes have to reposition printing plates, adjust pressure rolls, or otherwise adjust machines to further optimize print quality, using knobs, handwheels, or hand tools.

Like many other jobs, printing press machine operators must be thorough and dependable and be reliable.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Elgin include:

  • Decorative Painter. Paint, coat, or decorate articles, such as furniture, glass, or leather.
  • Photographic Processing Machine Operator. Operate photographic processing machines, such as photographic printing machines, film developing machines, and mounting presses.
  • Prepress Technician. Set up and prepare material for printing presses.
  • Tool and Die Maker. Analyze specifications, lay out metal stock, set up and operate machine tools, and fit and assemble parts to make and repair dies, cutting tools, and machinists' hand tools.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Printing Press Machine Operator Training

Harper College - Palatine, IL

Harper College, 1200 W Algonquin Rd, Palatine, IL 60067-7398. Harper College is a large college located in Palatine, Illinois. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 15,250 students. Harper College has a one to two year and an associate's degree program in Graphic and Printing Equipment Operator, General Production which graduated one and eight students respectively in 2008.

The Illinois Institute of Art-Schaumburg - Schaumburg, IL

The Illinois Institute of Art-Schaumburg, 1000 Plaza Drive Ste. 100, Schaumburg, IL 60173-4913. The Illinois Institute of Art-Schaumburg is a small school located in Schaumburg, Illinois. It is a private for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 1,257 students and an admission rate of 47%. The Illinois Institute of Art-Schaumburg has an associate's degree program in Graphic and Printing Equipment Operator, General Production.

CERTIFICATIONS

Basic Flexographer (Level 1): The "Basic Flexographer" classification (Level I) has been developed to provide recognition of those who have rudimentary knowledge of the industry or are entry level personnel.

For more information, see the Flexographic Technical Association website.

National Certification for Flexographic Press Operators: Endorsed and funded by the Foundation of Flexographic Technical Association (FFTA), the Flexographic Press Skill Standards and Flexographic Press Operator's Multi-Color Certification Examination were designed and developed by the National Council for Skill Standards in Graphic Communications (NC).

For more information, see the The National Council for Skill Standards in Graphic Communications website.

LOCATION INFORMATION: Elgin, Illinois

Elgin, Illinois
Elgin, Illinois photo by James Jordan

Elgin is located in Kane County, Illinois. It has a population of over 106,330, which has grown by 12.5% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in Elgin, 104, is above the national average. New single-family homes in Elgin cost $156,500 on average, which is far less than the state average. In 2008, three hundred thirty-two new homes were constructed in Elgin, down from seven hundred fifty-six the previous year.

The top three industries for women in Elgin are health care, educational services, and finance and insurance. For men, it is construction, metal and metal products, and administrative and support and waste management services. The average travel time to work is about 26 minutes. More than 20.5% of Elgin residents have a bachelor's degree, which is lower than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 6.0%, is lower than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Elgin is 12.4%, which is greater than Illinois's average of 10.5%.

The percentage of Elgin residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 56.0%, is more than both the national and state average. Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Seventh Day Adventist Church and Saint Thomas More Roman Catholic Church are some of the churches located in Elgin. The largest religious groups are the Catholic Church, the Lutheran Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Elgin is home to the Fox Bluff Corporate Center and the Elgin Fire Station Number 2 as well as Wing Park and College Park. Shopping malls in the area include Wing Park Manor Shopping Center, Tyler Creek Plaza Shopping Center and Town and Country Plaza Shopping Center. Visitors to Elgin can choose from Elgin-Days Inn, Colonial Lodge Motel and Crowne Plaza for temporary stays in the area.