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Career and Education Opportunities for Printing Press Machine Operators in Baltimore, Maryland

Many educational and employment opportunities exist for printing press machine operators in the Baltimore, Maryland area. There are currently 3,320 working printing press machine operators in Maryland; this should shrink 5% to 3,140 working printing press machine operators in the state by 2016. 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%. 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 earn approximately $18 per hour or $37,510 annually on average in Maryland. Nationally they average about $15 per hour or $32,170 per year. Earnings for printing press machine operators are better than earnings in the general category of Book Binding and Printing in Maryland and better than general Book Binding and Printing category earnings nationally.

The Baltimore area is home to 102 schools of higher education, including two within twenty-five miles of Baltimore where you can get a degree as a printing press machine operator. The most common level of education for printing press machine operators is a high school diploma or GED. 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 Baltimore include:

  • Bindery Worker. Set up or operate binding machines that produce books and other printed materials.
  • Decorative Painter. Paint, coat, or decorate articles, such as furniture, glass, or leather.
  • Engraver. Engrave or etch metal, wood, or other materials for identification or decorative purposes. Includes such workers as etcher-circuit processors, pantograph engravers, and silk screen etchers.
  • Medical Appliance Technician. Construct, fit, or repair medical supportive devices, such as braces, artificial limbs, and other surgical and medical appliances.
  • Prepress Technician. Set up and prepare material for printing presses.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Printing Press Machine Operator Training

The Community College of Baltimore County - Baltimore, MD

The Community College of Baltimore County, 7201 Rossville Blvd., Baltimore, MD 21237. The Community College of Baltimore County is a large college located in Baltimore, Maryland. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 20,673 students. The Community College of Baltimore County has a one to two year program in Graphic and Printing Equipment Operator, General Production.

University of the District of Columbia - Washington, DC

University of the District of Columbia, 4200 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008. University of the District of Columbia is a medium sized university located in Washington, District of Columbia. It is a public school with primarily 4-year or above programs and has 5,339 students. University of the District of Columbia has 2 areas of study related to Printing Press Machine Operator. They are:

  • Printing Press Operator, associate's degree.
  • Graphic Communications, Other Specialties, bachelor's degree which graduated 10 students in 2008.

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: Baltimore, Maryland

Baltimore, Maryland
Baltimore, Maryland photo by Nfutvol

Baltimore is located in Baltimore City County, Maryland. It has a population of over 636,919, which has shrunk by 2.2% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in Baltimore, 96, is near the national average. New single-family homes in Baltimore cost $139,700 on average, which is well below the state average. In 2008, one hundred fifty-three new homes were built in Baltimore, down from two hundred four the previous year.

The top three industries for women in Baltimore are health care, educational services, and public administration. For men, it is construction, educational services, and public administration. The average travel time to work is about 31 minutes. More than 19.1% of Baltimore residents have a bachelor's degree, which is lower than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 8.7%, is lower than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Baltimore is 10.8%, which is greater than Maryland's average of 7.2%.

A W Wilson Memorial United Methodist Church, Abbott Memorial Presbyterian Church and Rogers Avenue Synagogue are all churches located in Baltimore.

Baltimore is home to the Governors Yacht Club and the Oriole Park at Camden Yards as well as Venable Park and Eutaw-Madison Apartment House Historic District. Shopping centers in the area include Alameda Shopping Center, Village Square of Cross Keys Shopping Center and Waverly Tower Shopping Center. Visitors to Baltimore can choose from Four Seasons Complete Camper Care Center, Knights Inn and Hilton & Towers for temporary stays in the area.