The Printers National Environmental Assistance Center suggests that screen printing may be the most adaptable form of printing available. It can be applied to nearly any base, ranging from paper to t-shirts, caps and coffee mugs. Because of this versatility, the screen printing industry offers a variety of unique jobs
Screen printing careers are a part of the larger field of general printing, which includes areas such as book and magazine publishing, lithography, digital printing, binding and pre-press services. This branch of the printing industry deals exclusively with the preparation, printing and finishing of screen-printed items.
A professional screen printer is responsible for performing some or all of the duties involved in the screen printing process. These duties are likely to include designing screen print patterns, preparing screen printing stencils, mixing and loading ink, cleaning machines, troubleshooting technological problems, maintaining screen printing equipment, and drying and folding screen printed items. Workers in the screen printing industry may also be responsible for several administrative tasks, such as keeping records of work completed, processing payment from customers and shipping items that have been ordered.
Individuals desiring to work in the screen printing industry should have a variety of skills that make them well-suited for the job. Clear vision, correct color perception and hand-eye coordination are crucial. Employees must also be willing to handle and mix the chemicals used in screen printing ink. Since screen printing is considered a skilled trade job, it is best suited for people who enjoy practical manual work. Other important traits include self-motivation, problem solving skills, creativity, organizational skills and knowledge of the screen printing equipment.
While large companies produce the majority of screen printed products, there are a surprisingly high number of screen printing companies that have 10 or fewer employees. Screen printing is done almost entirely indoors, mostly through the use of equipment. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that most individuals working for screen printing companies worked an average of eight hours per day. However, large or rushed orders may require overtime on occasion.
Most screen printers are trained on the job. However, high levels of creativity and artistic skill make this training easier. A degree in art or graphic design is ideal.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, screen printers in 2008 earned an average of $32,057. While the industry will continue to have limited job openings, the field is expected to experience a 16 percent decrease due to expanded advertising and publishing on the Internet.