Reprographic Assistant

The Job and What's Involved

Reprographic assistants copy printed material such as reports, flyers and other documents. They work to instructions to meet customer requirements for each order. They often have to juggle several orders to make sure each one is delivered by the required time.

Reprographic assistants mainly use photocopiers to carry out their work. They make sure the machine is filled with the correct size of paper, and that chemicals such as toner are replaced as necessary.

Assistants may also operate other equipment to copy and finish documents, including:

- Guillotines
- Staplers
- Binding machines
- Small offset litho print machines
- Perforators
- Creasing and folding machines
- Collators

Tasks may include:

  • Loading and operating the photocopying machine.
  • Monitoring the copies and correcting any problems, such as ink smudges or jammed paper.
  • Arranging and collating the copied pages.
  • Cutting, folding, gathering and binding documents.
  • Unloading and stacking the finished products.
  • Cleaning the machinery and carrying out routine maintenance.
  • Making a record of completed work.
  • Ensuring health and safety regulations are followed at all times.

Depending on the employer and role, reprographic assistants may also get involved in other activities, such as helping to prepare artwork on the computer.

Tasks are set by a supervisor, but the assistant is normally expected to complete jobs alone.

In some organisations, the duties of a reprographic assistant are combined with those of a general clerical assistant.

Reprographic assistants normally work 37.5 hours a week, Monday to Friday. Extra hours may be required to meet customer delivery deadlines. Some assistants may work shifts, and overtime may be available. It is possible to work part time.

The work may be done in an office or workshop, depending on the employer.

The work involves some bending and standing for long periods, as well as lifting heavy reams of paper.

For tasks that take them on to the print production floor, assistants may need to wear safety gear, including boots and overalls.

Salaries may start at around £8,000 a year.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

Around 20,000 people work as reprographic assistants, and there are opportunities across the UK. The main employers are:

Print companies of all sizes - from large concerns to High Street print shops.

Institutions - with their own printing departments or copying units - such as local authorities, universities and large companies.

Printing is sensitive to changes in the wider economy, seasonal fluctuations in orders, and the growing use of online resources rather than printed material. However, there are still good opportunities in the industry.

Vacancies are advertised in the local press. They may also be found in trade publications such as Print Week and The Drum (Scotland).

Education and Training

There are no set entry qualifications. However, employers may ask for some GCSE's/S grades, especially in English and ICT-related subjects.

Gaining work experience in a local organisation may provide an advantage.

Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.

Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at www.apprenticeships.org.uk.

There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For further information visit My World of Work www.myworldofwork.co.uk/modernapprenticeships, Careers Wales www.careerswales.com; and for Northern Ireland contact www.careersserviceni.com.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Training is generally on the job. In-house training may be supplemented by short courses run by equipment manufacturers, or by part-time study at a local college.

Reprographic assistants may be able to study for qualifications such as:

  • 4 City & Guilds Certificate in Printing and Graphic Communications at Levels 2 and 3.
  • NVQ/SVQ in Mechanised Print Finishing and Binding at Levels 2 and 3.

A course designed as an introduction to the print sector is run by the Institute of Paper, Printing and Publishing (IP3). The ten-day course takes place over ten weeks in London, Leicester and Huddersfield. Students are assessed continuously and are awarded the IP3 Certificate on successful completion.

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You may use life saving skills as part of your day-to-day work.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

Reprographic assistants should be able to:

  • Follow written instructions with accuracy.
  • Operate machinery safely and correctly.
  • Concentrate for long periods.
  • Spot problems with colour, design or detail.
  • Solve problems as they arise.
  • Work on their own initiative.
  • Lift and move material as required.
  • Organise their work so that deadlines are met.
  • Work flexibly.

Your Long Term Prospects

Promotion opportunities depend on the type and size of organisation.

In large organisations, it may be possible to progress to a higher clerical role, or to team leader in the copying department.

Most print companies are small, and it may be necessary to change employers to advance. Larger print operations may offer the opportunity to train as a machine printer.

Get Further Information

British Association for Print and Communication (BAPC),
Concorde House, Station Road,
London N3 2SA
Tel: 020 8349 3009
Website: www.bapc.co.uk

British Printing Industries Federation (BPIF),
Farringdon Point, 29-35 Farringdon Road,
London EC1M 3JF
Tel: 0870 240 4085
Websites: www.britishprint.com
and www.jobsinprint.com

Institute of Paper, Printing and Publishing (IP3),
83 Guildford Street, Chertsey, Surrey KT16 9AS
Tel: 0870 330 8625
Website: www.ip3.org.uk

Proskills, Centurion Court,
85B Milton Park, Abingdon,
Oxfordshire OX14 4RY
Tel: 01235 432032
Website: www.proskills.co.uk

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