Becoming an Engraving Operator: Salary Info & Job Description

About this article
Engraving operators are also known as press operators, and their main duties involve operating and maintaining printing presses. Although there are some secondary school programs available for education in the field, much of the training and skills necessary for this position are learned on-the-job.
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Pros and Cons of a Career as an Engraving Operator

Engraving operators use a plate or roller to transfer images that need to be copied onto paper. Reading about the pros and cons of this career will help you decide if it is right for you.

Pros of Being an Engraving Operator
Minimal training is required to begin career*
Operators produce and create physical objects*

Cons of Being an Engraving Operator
Declining job growth predicted from 2014-2024*
Low median salary of $35,100 per year*
Work may be tedious and repetitive*
Operators may need to work weekends, holidays or overnight*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information

Job Description and Duties

The exact responsibilities for an engraving operator may vary based upon the technology utilized at any given printing company. It is the job of the engraving operator to run and maintain these machines and systems, including loading ink and paper and adjusting the equipment for exact size specifications. Engraving operators must work quickly and efficiently to meet the deadlines of printers and must avoid costly mistakes in the printing process.

Salary Info and Career Growth

Positions for this field are expected to continue to slim down from 2014-2024, due to greater reliance on outsourcing and advancements in technology that are edging out manpower, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ( The median salary of a printing press operator is $16.87 per hour as of May 2014. Those in federal executive branch industry averaged the most hourly, at $43.59.

What Are the Requirements?

Although many engraving operators are trained on the job, formal apprenticeships and educational programs are available to keep them competitive in the workplace. Some technical schools and community colleges offer programs in printing operations that provide the knowledge needed to run the printing equipment. Engraving operators are also expected to have a good deal of aptitude with machines, as well as basic knowledge of computers. Once in the field, engraving operators are encouraged to attend retraining seminars to keep up with the quickly changing technology of the printing industry.

Job Postings from Real Employers

Employers typically look for press operators who have some experience in the field. Continue reading to find real job postings that were available in November 2015.

  • An organization in North Carolina is looking for a printing press operator with at least two years of experience. This company is searching for applicants who are familiar with high speed color presses.
  • A company in Florida would like to hire press operators for the off shift. A vocational or technical degree is preferred for this position. The applicant will need to be able to prepare and operate press equipment.

How to Stand Out

Staying up to date with technological advances will give you an advantage within the job market. Individuals who take additional classes in graphic communication or prepress-related topics may find that this makes them a more sought after employee.

Other Career Paths

Desktop Publishers

A career in desktop publishing allows you to design page layouts for items that may be printed or used online. The responsibilities associated with this career can vary widely depending on the project being worked on. According to the BLS, this career is also going to decline from 2012-2022. Desktop publishers earned a median salary of $37,040 in 2012.

Metal and Plastic Machine Workers

Metal and plastic machine workers generally receive their training on-the-job, though those who work with computers may require more training. These workers will operate and monitor machines that shape metal or plastic pieces. The BLS predicts this career will decline as well. In 2012, metal and plastic machine workers earned a median salary of $32,950 a year.

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