But one thing is for sure, being a Mac Operator is not a job that will prepare or put a person on the road to becoming a graphic designer. The simple fact is that being an operator is usually a purely technical position, while being a designer is a creative one. That does not, however, mean that this is a job or career that is not worth pursuing. An operator can earn a fine salary, and it is often one of the most sought after positions for temporary or part time workers. So the job is also not exactly a dead end road. In fact, some operators do eventually go on to become Artworkers or Finished Artists.
To become an Artworker you will need to have considerable skills and experience with basic graphic design software products like Freehand, Photoshop, QuarkXpress, Indesign, or Illustrator. Though the position pays well and carries with a quite a bit of responsibility, most Artworkers do not have much creative input. Rather, it is far more common that they simply implement a concept that is based on the graphic designer's suggestions.
One of the most sought after skills of Artworkers is that they can take a designer's layout and make sure that it's ready for print. This is a clear response to the fact that many design companies have begun to notice that many graphic design graduates leave college without the basic skills necessary to set a job up for print. This is one of the reasons why Artworkers are so highly valued.
Like any job that is not based entirely on academic credentials, real world or field experience is crucial for Mac Operators. In fact, that is how many Artworks differentiate themselves from talented graphic artists. Most of the top workers not only have incredible technical abilities, but they have also worked in the field for many years and have literally seen and done it all.
Most employers are looking for Mac Operators that have at least 3-5 years experience with a reputable firm. Potential employees must be familiar with all of the latest graphic design software, such as QuarkXPress, Adobe Creative Suite and Acrobat. It is also a huge plus if applicants can communicate with people from many different fields. Since graphic design is an industry that incorporates professionals from disparate backgrounds, it is always attractive to employers if a worker has exemplary communication skills.
In the end, however, the entire graphics industry is based upon pre-press, reproduction and later printing. In fact, this is the sector where most Artworkers and Mac Operators ultimately work. And, as we mentioned, these are jobs that require incredible skills, experience and mastery of all current graphics programs and software. Qualified applicants will also be expected to have an in-depth knowledge of all print production issues such as color reproduction, trapping and ink density.