How do I Become a Prepress Technician?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 14 November 2018
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The most widely accepted way to become a prepress technician today is to attend a trade or technical school to learn the mechanics of the work. However, there are other options available for people who do not want to pursue this particular method to become a prepress technician. It is important to be aware that advances in graphics technology are reducing the demand for prepress technicians, and that as a result, competition in this market can be fierce.

A prepress technician works in a print shop to prepare pieces for printing. She or he starts with the materials from the client and uses them to prepare plates which will be used in the press. Historically, this was all done by hand. Today, prepress technicians work primarily with imaging software to get work ready for the press, and this has streamlined the process considerably. A prepress technician needs a family of skills. Comfort with computers is important, as is knowledge of offset printing processes and how printing works.

At a trade or technical school, someone can complete a two year training program to become a prepress technician. Such schools often offer opportunities to practice in a press room, and students can also get part time jobs with print shops to get familiar with the work environment. Such jobs can also be useful for establishing references which may be helpful after graduation.


Other prepress technicians opt to complete a four year degree. There are programs available in printing technology, or a degree in a field such as graphic design can be pursued. Having a four year degree can help someone enter a senior management position. Someone who wants to become a prepress technician may also find that having a four year degree is more competitive, which can be important in the tight job market for prepress technicians.

It is also possible to train as a job printer. Job printers handle jobs from start to finish. Even if one intends to be a prepress technician, knowing about all the stages of the printing process can be beneficial and will be helpful when setting up work for the press. In addition, having printing skills can make it possible to apply for other jobs in the printing industry if getting a job as a prepress technician is too difficult.

Some people continue to become a prepress technician the old fashioned way, through apprenticeship. In this case, the would-be technician works full time in a print shop to acquire the necessary skills.



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