Ministry of Business and Innovation - Occupation Outlook

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Printers and Print Finishers

Job Prospects

Job Prospects... At a glance

Job prospects for printers and print finishers are poor. New technology in the industry and declining newspaper and book sales has resulted in a sharp decline in employment in this industry. This decline is expected to continue, and it could be difficult for new workers to enter this industry.

How to become a printer or print finisher

What they do

Printers and print finishers prepare, print and bind books, newspapers, magazines and other printed materials.

Their tasks may include:

  • setting up and supervising the operation of automatic binding and finishing equipment
  • binding full, half and limp-bound books, and repairing bindings
  • folding, collating and sewing signatures by machine and hand
  • operating paper guillotines for pre-press and post-press paper cutting and trimming, and programming electronically operated units
  • operating systems to insert printed material into newspapers, magazines and envelopes
  • embellishing printed products automatically and manually
  • operating photographic and electronic reproduction devices
  • preparing stencils using computer and hand-cut methods
  • selecting, mixing and matching coloured inks and loading into screen printing presses
  • loading printed items into drying racks, and unloading and stacking dry items.


There are no formal entry requirements to work as a printer or print finisher, but most employers prefer employees who have, or are working towards, a qualification. In order to get qualified, students must get a job as a print worker before starting an apprenticeship.

Competenz offer a New Zealand Certificate in Print (Levels 3 and 4), and New Zealand Certificates in Binding and Finishing (Levels 3 and 4). They also offer a National Diploma in Print Industry Management (Level 5) for more advanced workers.

Cost of study

The industry training organisation that manages apprenticeships in the printing industry is Competenz.

You cannot get an NZQA-accredited qualification in printing other than through Competenz, as no polytechnics or private training establishments offer these qualifications.

The New Zealand Apprenticeships scheme is available for anyone over the age of 16, and is subsidised by the government. More information on the scheme is available on the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) website.


Where to study

The Industry Training Organisation (ITO) that looks after training for printers and print finishers is Competenz. It arranges apprenticeships nationwide.


Income and employment prospects


The annual income for printers and print finishers is estimated to be around $53,000. Income depends on experience. With intense competition for vacancies expected in the future, incomes could drop.

Estimated Average Income

Source: MBIE estimates based on Statistics NZ Census and Labour Cost Index

Employment and skill shortages

Printers and print finishers’ employment

HistoricProjected Growth
2006 2013 2023 2028
8,067 4,794 2,880 2,840
  -7.2% -8.2% -0.2%

Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections. Percentages are compound annual growth rates.
* Growth projections are based on the wider category “Printing Trades Workers”.

The number of printers and finishers in employment fell sharply from 2006 to 2013. This fall is expected to continue, especially up to 2023. Overall numbers are projected to drop below 3,000 by 2023, a far cry from the roughly 8,000 workers who were employed in 2006. This trend is likely to make it hard for new workers to enter the printing industry.

Employment chart

Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections

Printers and print finishers are not on Immigration New Zealand's skill shortage lists.

Immigration NZ, skill shortage list:

Where to find job vacancies

Printer and print finisher vacancies are advertised through public media such as the Trade Me Jobs and Seek websites.

TradeMe Jobs: 

Career path

There is no clear career path for printers and print finishers.

Related occupations

The following occupations are related roles or alternative titles. Some of the roles may require a higher level of skill than entry-level printers and print finishers.

  • Bookbinder
  • Desktop Publishing Operator
  • Digital Printer
  • Flexographic Printing Machinist
  • Graphic Pre-Press Worker
  • Gravure Printing Machinist
  • Instant Printer Operator
  • Label Printing Machinist
  • Letterpress Printing Machinist
  • Lithographic Printing Machinist
  • Paper Guillotine Operator
  • Printer Operator
  • Printing Machinist
  • Reel Fed Printer
  • Screen Printer
  • Screen Printing Stencil Preparer
  • Sheet Fed Printer
  • Small Offset Printer
  • Textiles Printer

Other information


More information on printers and print finishers is available on the Careers New Zealand website.

Careers New Zealand:


The Australian New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) is the official classification of occupations in New Zealand.

The occupation of printers and print finishers has been coded to the following ANZSCO code for the purpose of this report:

392 – Printing Trades Workers