How can you be find work and be successful as a pressman in the printing industry? Here are some tips to help you get started.
A pressman is a craft like any other trade, but requires specific skills make it a career. Here are five qualities that can make you successful at this trade:
A Desire To Learn
Like most other apprenticeships, being a pressman will require four or five years of training. This is because you must learn the mechanics of the press itself – units, folder, inking system to name just a few. Additionally, you will need to learn about densitometry, chemistry and crew organization. In each of those areas there is much to learn.
Eye For Detail
Just like riding in your car, you can tell if some sounds are not right, so it is with running an offset printing press. In time, you can tell what is high quality printing and what is not. You need to be able to pull a copy off the press and quickly determine any slight flaws. A pressman needs to be able to quickly identify scumming, register, hickies, ghosting, doubling and a myriad of other press problems.
A good pressman is one that can multitask. With multiple parts to an offset press performing different functions, you need to be able to not only keep track of them, but organize who will take care of them. In addition, the multiple parts of a press require that you monitor them all simultaneously as they all affect the quality of the printed product. Especially when the press starts up is this quality essential.
Steady As She Goes
Lastly, your personality must be one that works in a steady manner. Many printing jobs are long runs that require a heightened sense of awareness when all seems to be going well. Defects can appear at any time and if you are not distracted, you can spot them during a press run. You need to be a steady worker, not one that goes in spurts. This is a unique personality and as a pressman of 20 years, I can assure you that these pressmen always turn out the best.
It is also worth mentioning that unless you are going to buy a small press and work out of your basement, you will always be working for someone else. Printing equipment is very expensive and sometimes requires multiple pressmen to run it, so leaving the trade and starting up a business of your own is a rare venture.
Additionally, count on working shift work. In order to pay for this expensive equipment, most employers will try to run it around the clock to make it pay for itself. If that’s not your cup of tea, you need to find different employment.