Press Operator Job Descriptions, Average Salary, Interview Questions

What Does a Press Operator Do?

Press operators operate machines used to produce newspapers, magazines, books, and other printed materials. They use printing presses to print on paper or other materials using ink, toner, or other materials. These professionals work in various industries, including publishing, advertising, and manufacturing. As part of their responsibilities, they monitor the printing process, make adjustments to ensure quality, and ensure the machines run safely and efficiently.

Physical stamina is essential for press operators who stand for long periods of time, operate heavy machinery, and lift large rolls of paper. For quality production, they must have technical skills and knowledge in operating and maintaining printing equipment, including troubleshooting and making necessary adjustments. Individuals must have a high school diploma or equivalent in order to become a press operator. They must be mechanically skilled and have the ability to read blueprints and technical specifications. Additionally, they should be able to work well in a team environment and have good communication skills.

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National Average Salary

Press operator salaries vary by experience, industry, organization size, and geography. To explore salary ranges by local market, please visit our sister site

The average U.S. salary for a Press Operator is:


Press Operator Job Descriptions

The first step when hiring a great press operator is a well-crafted job description. Below are real-world examples to help give you the best chance of success on your recruiting journey.

Example 1

Are you interested in running and managing a printing press? [Your Company Name] is looking for a full-time press operator to manage and oversee the operation and use of the printing press. If you’re committed to quality, able to easily manage large projects on time, and are a perfectionist, this job is for you. You will be in charge of managing the ink distribution and printing aspects, like temperature and speed. Cleaning the press as well as keeping the ink and paper full is required as well, so you will need to be able to multitask successfully while ensuring that the quality of the results remains top-notch. You will need relevant technical certificates as well as a relevant degree. If you think you can handle this position and have the qualifications required, please apply.

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Prepare and calibrate machinery for printing and other tasks 
  • Operate machinery and maintain press to meet product specifications
  • Check printed material for proper color and other aesthetics
  • Examine and interpret blueprints and sketches for product specifications
  • Calibrate and conduct repairs and modifications on machinery 
  • Follow all safety protocols
  • Ensure proper maintenance, safety, and functioning of all equipment

Education and experience

This position requires a high school diploma or equivalent. Employers typically prefer job candidates with an associate degree or certification from a technical program. 

Required skills and qualifications

  • Ability to perform tasks and utilize machinery
  • Knowledge of technical and mechanical processes and terminology 
  • Proficiency in operating heavy machinery
  • Ability to interpret and understand complex documents
  • Keen attention to detail
  • Manual dexterity 
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills 
  • Physical stamina and strength 

Preferred qualifications

  • 2-4 years of related experience running, troubleshooting and performing quality control on a press of similar size and complexity
  • Ability to read and interpret documents such as safety rules, operating and maintenance instructions and procedure manuals
  • Basic computer skills to perform data entry

Example 2

In this role, you will…

Be responsible to safely operate, set up, and care for the printing press machines and direct the press assistants to ensure continuous improvements in customer satisfaction.


  • Read and follow daily press schedule to meet daily production needs
  • Legibly and accurately record activities on required documentation and in the daily activities log books
  • Set up and record run condition reports for each job completed
  • Properly and safely use all tools necessary to set up each job as efficiently and with as little waste as possible
  • Read and understand customer order and artwork
  • Track all setup, downtime, and run time on the production report and by using Axapta or shop floor
  • Accurately scan and process all materials going on and coming off of the machine
  • Run the order as quickly and efficiently as quality allow
  • Mark or flag all press stops, splices, and misprints during the run and keep an accurate Flag report for each roll
  • Remove and properly dispose of all flying splices and defects on rewind position or master roll
  • Monitor print quality during the run using the auto defect detection system. (AVT SYSTEM)
  • Responsible for the cleanliness of the press and the area around the press
  • Report any and all mechanical issue he encounters during the shift
  • Regular attendance is required
  • Prepare and direct press assistant in the staging of the next job
  • Help train and teach in any or all of his responsibilities
  • Monitor and hold assistant accountable for their responsibilities

Minimal job requirements:

  • High school diploma or equivalent (GED) required
  • At least 5+ years of wide web flexographic printing experience required


  • Ability to grasp and understand product layout sheets and how to read artwork
  • Operator must understand the difference between good and bad print based off of all provided materials: Artwork, PLS, Wo, Separations, and Color master folder
  • Must have a clear understanding of how to use the quality checklist and of its importance
  • Must understand the Spectro densitometer
  • Must have a clear understanding of the company’s digital work flow
  • Understand with ability to perform, teach, and direct the essential functions of all press positions

Physical requirements:

  • Ability to propel self across multiple surfaces, including concrete, carpeting, and linoleum
  • Standing 10 to 12 hours on solid surface, walking on uneven surfaces 10 to 12 hours; bending, kneeling, squatting 8 to 10 hours
  • Reaching with arms up and down, side to side; use hands to finger, feel, or handle objects 12 hours
  • Close vision, peripheral vision and depth perception with ability to discern color and texture; 10 to 12 hour
  • Ability to hear warning bells and forklift engine; 12 hour

Cognitive requirements:

  • General: Must have good safety awareness and judgment. Effective time management skills with ability to multitask, self-organize, and prioritize tasks; high attention to detail with ability to meet deadlines; ability to work independently to reach goals and successfully partner with others to meet customer requirements; ability to obtain and maintain proficient knowledge of and capability with all tools, machines and software required to perform essential functions.
  • Computer Skills: Average ability to accurately type using a computer monitor and/or keyboard.
  • Language Ability: Spanish bilingual helpful, but not required. Ability to be understood when speaking English, listen to and understand spoken English; read and interpret customer specifications written in English. Ability to write daily logs in English. Ability to speak effectively to communicate quality concerns or production issues.
  • Math Ability: Ability to add, subtract, multiply, and divide units of measure using whole numbers, common fractions and decimals to ensure proper measurements before/after production.
  • Reasoning Ability: Able to apply common sense understanding to carry out multiple instructions furnished in written, oral, or diagram form. Able to deal with problems involving several variables.
  • Work Environment: The noise level in the work environment is moderately noisy. Must have the ability to wear required Personal Protective Equipment when required to be in production areas, including hair/beard net, cutting gloves, and safety glasses, as appropriate. Must be able to stand or walk 75% or more of workday. Must have ability to work in a hot or cold environment around ink or chemicals with protection.

Example 3

Position summary

This role is responsible to safely and efficiently retrieve, clean, trim, and pack parts.

Key duties and responsibilities

  • Understand quality specifications of all parts/products through product guidelines
  • Perform required secondary work on all parts/products (e.g., hot stamp, snaps)
  • Collect data
  • Complete first piece inspection on secondary orders
  • Read and understand quality control instructions
  • Read and understand work packet/order
  • Ability to recognize and react accordingly to shorts, flash, splay, contaminants, etc. and complete process variance
  • Safe and efficient operation of hand tools, scales, and other relative equipment

Education required

  • None

Education desired

  • High School Diploma or Equivalent

Knowledge, skills, or abilities desired

  • Must be able to read, write, and speak English fluently
  • Product knowledge, including material and identification knowledge
  • Must be able to successfully complete all respective work instructions
  • Math: addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division

Example 4

Position overview

  • Produce a consistently high quality product within acceptable standard waste and time rates
  • Understand schedules and how to complete necessary paperwork
  • Install cylinder and dies, and ensure proper anilox, tensions, die cut, and stripping on each job
  • Follow standard operating procedures and work instructions for each jo
  • Maintain quality, productivity, and waste according to set standards.
  • Perform routine press maintenance

Position requirements

  • Requires education equivalent to two (2) years of high school
  • Knowledge of and the ability to effectively utilize the English language
  • Math skills including the ability to add, subtract, multiply and divide whole numbers, decimals, and fractions
  • Regular attendance is required. May be required to work some overtime

Candidate Certifications to Look For

  • FIRST Press Operator Certification. The FIRST Press Operator Certification is designed as a quality certification for multiple positions, including advanced machine assistants and press operators. This certification is an industry-leading validation process and will take roughly thirty weeks to complete from start to finish, being broken down into three categories. This certification will help candidates with leadership, press troubleshooting, and press operation.
  • Printing Management. Printing management is a common program that is taken by press operators and managers, as it teaches the fundamentals of managing a printing press as well as multiple aspects of the job that are required to be successful in the position.
  • CompTIA. The CompTIA certification is a general certification in IT fields and thus will be a very useful certification for any press operator. It will assist with troubleshooting, management, and networking.

Sample Interview Questions

  • Have you worked with any specific types of machines?
  • In order to maintain quality output, what steps do you take to ensure that the printing process runs smoothly?
  • To troubleshoot printing machine problems, what steps do you follow?
  • What safety protocols do you follow to ensure the printing machines operate safely?
  • In order to meet printing deadlines, how do you prioritize tasks and manage your time effectively?
  • How do you handle stress and pressure in a fast-paced production environment?
  • When was the last time you had to adjust your printing process to ensure quality output, and how did you handle it?
  • What is your experience reading technical specifications and blueprints and setting up printing machines correctly?
  • What communication strategies do you use to ensure the printing process runs smoothly?
  • How do you maintain printing equipment and ensure that it is in good working order?

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