Prepress Job & Career Information
The printing process has three stages, prepress, press, and binding (or postpress.) Prepress is the first stage, and prepress workers are responsible for preparing the material for printing presses. Prepress involves a variety of tasks including checking proofs for errors and print clarity and correcting any mistakes, transforming text and pictures into finished pages, and making printing plates of the pages.
The job of prepress has been greatly affected by technological advances in the past few years. The older methods of phototypesetting have been replaced by computerized digital imaging technology such as “desktop publishing.” The printing industry is doing more prepress work using complete “digital imaging.” This technology allows prepress technicians to take material received via a computer file, check it for completeness, and format it into pages using electronic page layout systems. Then, prepress technicians use digital systems to electronically produce an image of the printed pages and print a copy, or “proof,” of the pages as they will appear when printed.
The job of a prepress technician requires some formal graphic communications training in the various types of computer software used in prepress digital imaging. There are a variety of programs available in this field including 2-year associate degree programs offered by community and junior colleges and technical schools, and 4-year bachelor degree programs offered by universities. These programs will teach you the latest in prepress technology and allow you to develop prepress skills by practicing and applying them. You will also gain an understanding of how printing plants operate, and become familiar with the basic prepress functions.
Prepress Job and Career Prospects
Job prospects in prepress area available in several industries such as traditional printing and publishing, advertising, public relations, graphic design, and business. Most prepress jobs are found in the printing and publishing industry, or with newspapers, and as both of these industries are very geographically dispersed, prepress jobs are available throughout the country.
New jobs in prepress are emerging as well as new equipment is developed that allows commercial printers to make inroad into new markets that require fast turnaround. Most employers in these new fields view individuals with a combination of experience in the printing industry and formal training in the new digital technology as the best candidates for prepress jobs.