Career outlook for pre-press operator

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary


Currently employed in Scotland


Average UK salary


Currently employed in Scotland


"LMI for All" supplies our salary and employment status information. "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures.

Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

You would carry out a range of tasks involved in producing printed items like newspapers, books and packaging.

You would:

  • Scan digital images to put into documents
  • Retouch images and create example proofs
  • Plan how a finished page will appear
  • Use a computer to set out the artwork, images and text to match design plans
  • Proofread and check the whole document for accuracy and visual impact
  • Prepare the item for copying
  • Transfer the final image from film onto printing plates

You would do most of your work using computers and machinery. You’d therefore need to have or develop knowledge of desktop publishing software. It would also be important to have an eye for design and a high standard of spelling and grammar. 

Working conditions


You would normally work 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, but you would need to be flexible to meet urgent deadlines. You may have opportunities for overtime and shiftwork, including night shifts.


Most of your work would be in an office or studio. You may have to wear protective clothing, for example when handling inks or cleaning and maintaining the machinery.

UK employment status





Self employed


Here are some of the skills needed for this job. Sign in to see how your skills match up.

  • Time management
  • Developing a plan
  • Attention to detail
  • Reading
  • Working with technology
  • Cooperating
  • Observation
  • Problem solving

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.


There are no set entry routes. Along with a good general education, employers look for: 

  • An HNC/HND (SCQF Level 7/8) in a related subject such as digital media 
  • Relevant work-based experience
  • On the job qualifications such as an SVQ in Digital Print Production (SCQF Level 6)

To enter a Digital Media HND course usually requires National 5 qualifications and at least one Higher or equivalent qualifications.  

Useful subjects

  • Maths
  • English 
  • Art and design
  • Graphic communication
  • Practical technologies
  • ICT-related subjects

You will also need

Normal colour vision and good eyesight.

Helpful to have

Some knowledge of desktop publishing software could also be useful, for example Illustrator, InDesign or QuarkXPress.