Computer technology has revolutionized the commercial graphics industry, creating a demand for personnel with technically relevant skills. The printing industry is rapidly moving toward complete “digital imaging,” by which customers’ material received on computer disks is converted directly into printing plates. Other innovations in prepress work are digital color page makeup systems, electronic page layout systems, and off-press color proofing systems.
A variety of career paths are available in this rapidly expanding industry, from image setter (desktop publisher) to image assembler to printing press operator. The printing industry ranks as the largest small business in the United States; in the Columbia area, there are nearly 100 printing companies of varying sizes. Additionally, many Columbia businesses employ qualified printing technicians in their in-house printing operations.