The PrintED competencies were updated in 2014.


The 2010 PrintED competencies have been revised, and are now referred to as Graphic Communications Skills Competencies. These key competencies, written by industry professionals and educators, define minimum skills required for employment in the graphic communications industry. Available in six content areas, the competencies are free to all industry stakeholders.

PrintED accredited programs are requested to begin incorporating the 2014 Graphic Communications Skills Competencies into their curriculums.

Graphic Communications Skills Competencies:

Introduction to Graphic Communications *

This topic provides the student with a review of the key business and production elements of the graphic communications industry. Topic areas include the structure of the industry, the organizations that support it, the economic footprint of the industry, the types of print businesses and the markets that they serve, the various print processes that are in use and the products that they produce, the way companies are organized, occupational opportunities in the industry, and the basic production equipment used in a typical printing plant.

Armed with this knowledge, a student will be able identify and evaluate employment opportunities in the various types of graphic communications businesses. They will have an understanding of the expectations and knowledge requirements for various positions and where they fit into an organization as well as the pathway for advancement. Students will develop an appreciation of the value of print and where print fits in with regard to other forms of communication.

*All programs must be accredited in this area.

View full list of Introduction to Graphic Communications competencies

Digital File Preparation and Output

Knowing and executing the steps needed to prepare a client file, from preflighting through platemaking is essential for the production of a successful printing project. It is important to assure files are well managed and proper image resolution and color spaces are chosen. Also, careful attention to consistent color matching and an efficient layout of pages on the press sheet are vital for correct production to any output device.

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Digital Production Printing

Digital production printing is the fastest growing area of the printing industry. This growth and acceptance by customers is being fueled by the ability to produce high quality printing quickly and in a cost efficient manner. There are many examples of work that were previously printed on an offset press being transferred to a digital press. There are also many new jobs being produced that can only be printed with a digital press.

A key benefit is the ability of the digital printing process to incorporate personalized data into the printed page. This fact is a contributor to the growth of digital printing.

The competencies provided will teach the student the types of digital printing equipment technologies that are commonly used, typical workflows to receive, manage and print a project, the types of printed applications that are appropriate for digital printing and health and safety policies.

View full list of Digital Production Printing competencies

Graphic Design

Graphic design is the art of communication, stylizing, and problem-solving through the use of type, space and image. The field also requires creativity and the knowledge of ever changing technology.

Graphic designers use various methods to create and combine words and images to provide a visual representation of ideas and messages. The designer works with a variety of creation tools in order to convey a visual message from a client to a particular audience.

Content within this topic includes the principles and philosophies of design with technical construction techniques and tools.

View full list of Graphic Design competencies

Offset Press Operations / Bindery & Finishing

The use of offset lithography is the most common way of creating printed products such as newspapers, magazines, brochures, stationery, and books. There are a wide range of offset lithographic presses available, with the ability to accommodate different sizes of paper, speeds and numbers of colors. Paper can be fed from a sheet or roll of paper depending on the type of press.

After a project has been printed, press sheets may undergo further production through binding and finishing steps. Common operations include cutting press sheets into smaller sizes, folding or binding them into a book.

The competencies provided will lead the student to identify the types of offset printing machines that are commonly used, the steps and skills required to operate a press, and common binding and finishing procedures.

View full list of Offset Press Operations / Bindery & Finishing competencies

Screen Printing

The most versatile of all printing processes, screen printing can be used to print on a wide variety of substrates, including paper, plastics, glass, metal and fabrics. Some common products produced from screen printing include posters, labels, decals, signage, textiles and electronic circuit boards.

A significant characteristic of screen printing is that a greater thickness of the ink can be applied to the substrate. Because of the simplicity of the application process, a wider range of inks and dyes are available for use with screen printing than for use in any other printing process.

The competencies provided will teach the student the types of screen printing equipment technologies that are commonly used, typical workflows to print a project and maintenance procedures.

View full list of Screen Printing competencies