Skills Photographic And Film Processing Supervisor near Edmonton (AB)

Find out what skills you typically need to work as a photographic and film processing supervisor in Canada. These skills are applicable to all Supervisors, printing and related occupations (NOC 7303).


People working in this occupation usually apply the following skill set.

  • Supervise workers and projects
  • Train or arrange for training
  • Oversee the operation of company
  • Review and approve all job proofs or samples
  • Manage own company
  • Recommend personnel actions
  • Co-ordinate and schedule activities
  • Ensure health and safety regulations are followed
  • Recommend measures to improve productivity and product quality
  • Resolve work related problems
  • Requisition materials and supplies
  • Provide technical and professional advice
  • Requisition or order materials, equipment and supplies
  • Establish methods to meet work schedules

Skills and knowledge

The following skills and knowledge are usually required in this occupation.

Essential skills

See how the 9 essential skills apply to this occupation.

  • Read notes from crew members, supervisors on previous shifts and from staff in other departments to learn about the status of various jobs, equipment faults, complaints from dissatisfied clients and specification changes. (2)
  • Read short letters from suppliers and clients. For example, they read letters from equipment suppliers which outline lease and purchase options. They read letters from clients describing printing jobs and requesting quotes for the work. (2)
  • Read memos and e-mail from their managers. For example, they may read memos describing new workflows and equipment set-up changes for particular jobs, and memos providing guidelines on how to encourage clients to make certain paper selections. (2)
  • Read instructions on job dockets and work order forms. For example, a photographic lab supervisor reads instructions on how to make prints for an art installation that requires negatives to be printed normally and backwards, cropped according to specifications and burned and dodged in various sections. (2)
  • Read suppliers' catalogues for information about computers, scanners, printers and other equipment. For example, a prepress supervisor reads catalogue entries about new scanners and printers to understand their capabilities, maintenance and repair details and how they would interface with existing equipment. (3)
  • Read procedure and design specification manuals to plan work and to ensure jobs have been carried out correctly. For example, a plateroom supervisor checks platemaking procedures in a manual against docket information to ensure required steps have been followed. (3)
  • Read articles in national and international trade publications to learn about new equipment, printing processes, marketing trends, cost-cutting methods, and quality control systems. They analyze the content to adapt and apply the information in their own settings. (4)
  • Read lengthy technical manuals for new equipment and software. For example, press supervisors study manuals for new presses to become familiar with all aspects of the machinery's construction and to be able to instruct staff so that they can get the most out of the machinery. Prepress supervisors read software manuals to learn how to use new applications and to refine their understanding when using familiar applications in new situations. (4)
Document use
  • Scan lists and labels. For example, they look up names, phone numbers and e-mail addresses in directories of printers and suppliers. They locate product names, sizes and quantities on the labels of ink, paper and film products. (1)
  • Scan daily production reports completed by press operators and other crew members to locate data such as start and finish times, operational levels, material wastage rates and downtime minutes. (2)
  • May obtain details about production processes from labels attached to products. For example, a prepress supervisor reads the printer bug, production label located on each item that identifies all aspects of the item's production history including the file name, date produced, software, server and colour palette used. (2)
  • Interpret graphs of job and process statistics. For example, they examine dot curve graphs to determine what size dots would produce colours, shadings and edges to match plate mock-ups. They review graphs of monthly waste levels when planning waste reduction strategies. They locate data on work volume graphs to compare the number of work orders handled by the traditional and digital sections of plants. (3)
  • Locate original specifications and updates on job dockets as the jobs move through production stages. They check to ensure that specifications and instructions are consistent across different sections of the dockets and data from work order change forms have been incorporated. (3)
  • Consult long-term and complex production schedules. For example, a press supervisor monitors a central production board that presents, in table format, all jobs on order for three months and their current respective statuses. A supervisor in a daily newspaper printing plant refers to a complex daily production schedule to analyze the planned and actual completion times of each prepress, plateroom, and press function to the nearest minute. (3)
  • Complete daily production reports by gathering data from various sources. For example, to complete a daily production report, a press supervisor collates data from reports completed by operators, other supervisors and job management software. The supervisor tallies and enters data such as net yield and impressions, waste, number of set ups, downtime and reasons for downtime. (3)
  • Write comments on a variety of forms. For example, they write descriptions of and explanations for changes on production schedules. They write comments about problems with artwork, plates and clients on quality control checklists. (1)
  • Write memos and e-mail to co-workers on a variety of subjects. For example, they may write memos to co-workers about holiday planning and safety problems and e-mail to co-workers to critique proposed processes and explain anticipated problems. (2)
  • Write e-mail and fax messages to clients to update them on the status of work orders. They may describe problems that require extending timelines, explain why they can't produce the printing as requested and offer alternatives. (2)
  • Write staff performance appraisals and disciplinary letters. In appraisals they comment on employees' performances in areas such as knowledge of duties, quality of work and initiative. In letters of discipline, they describe behaviours that are not acceptable, corrective actions required and potential consequences of a repeat offence. (3)
  • May write copy for job postings and promotional materials using terms understood by intended audiences. For example, a prepress supervisor limits the use of technical vocabulary and occupation-specific jargons in writing promotional materials aimed at a wide range of prospective clients. (3)
  • May write reports to management about budgeting and production problems. For example, a prepress supervisor prepares a report justifying variances between budgeted and actual monthly expenditures. A plateroom supervisor writes a plate analysis report that describes steps taken to investigate a customer's complaint about quality of a print job, presents findings and conclusions, and makes recommendations. (4)
NumeracyMoney Math
  • Verify invoices prepared by accounting departments. For example, a prepress supervisor verifies calculations in invoices by checking that labour amounts are in keeping with internal billing rates and that outside services such as making plates have been marked up. (3)
Scheduling, Budgeting & Accounting Math
  • Calculate costs for different supplies and equipment purchase options. For example, a press supervisor compares the costs of purchasing precut sheets of paper against the cost of purchasing large sheets and cutting them down to meet job needs. A plateroom supervisor calculates the reduction in overtime hours that can be realized from using new proofing equipment that produces proofs more quickly. (3)
  • Create daily and weekly schedules for the deployment of crew and equipment. They consider the volume, complexity and due dates of jobs on order, the number of workers needed to cover up to three shifts per day, the estimated running time required for each piece of equipment, and possible downtime due to mechanical faults and production problems. They adjust the schedules according to changes in work progress. (3)
Measurement and Calculation Math
  • Measure products to check their quality. For example, a prepress supervisor measures type width using a ruler on hard copies and page layout dimensions feature in graphics software. A bindery supervisor measures the length and width of a pamphlet to ensure it has been folded and cut according to specifications. (1)
  • Calculate quantities of ink, paper and other consumable supplies. For example, a plateroom supervisor calculates the amount of plate material left over from jobs by measuring and calculating the area. (2)
Data Analysis Math
  • Use specialized instruments to take precise measurements. For example, a pressroom supervisors use spectral-densitometers to measure percentage of dot gain in various segments of printed images, and dot-reading protractors to measure colour screen angles. (3)
  • Compare process data such as press speeds and print densities to specifications and norms. They look for inconsistencies that may indicate equipment faults and production problems. (1)
  • Manage inventories of stock materials such as papers, toners and inks. They consider existing inventory quantities, the requirements for upcoming jobs on order, and usage rates in past years to order materials and supplies that will meet job demands without incurring long hold times in stock rooms. (2)
  • Generate production statistics and compare them with goals and targets in business plans. For example, they calculate wastage rates to check if these are within acceptable levels. They may graph variables such as estimated and actual use of time and resources to identify and analyze inconsistencies. They may calculate average error rates by crews on different shifts. (3)
Numerical Estimation
  • Estimate the quantities of stock and supplies needed to complete scheduled jobs. For example, a photographic printing supervisor estimates how much stock of the same emulsion will be needed to print an order of one thousand large prints, factoring in stock needed for tests and rejected prints. It has to be a close estimate because changing stock in the middle of an order would require extra time to rebalance colours and may produce inconsistent results. (2)
  • Estimate the time required to complete jobs. For example, a press supervisor estimates how long it will take to run a job given standard set-up times for each deck of colour required plus the time for plate mounting, press run, operator breaks and other downtime. These times are subject to variation depending on the skill levels of full-time, experienced versus part-time, temporary operators and the idiosyncrasies of equipment involved. If it is not close, the supervisor's estimate could compromise the accuracy of job quotes and disrupt production schedules. (3)
  • May prepare job quotes for clients by estimating costs. They analyze job steps to estimate costs for labour including possible overtime, materials including spoilage and waste, and outside services if needed. (3)
Oral communication
  • Discuss routine details of ongoing and upcoming work with co-workers and crew members. For example, they may request that maintenance staff check equipment that is not fully operational and alert crew members to the arrival of jobs with special printing requirements. (1)
  • Coordinate workflow with supervisors in other departments. For example, they negotiate the sharing of crew members and adjustment of production schedules to meet tight deadlines. (2)
  • Discuss the technical details of jobs with customers and respond to their complaints. For example, they review proofs with customers and discuss adjustments to colour and type if required. They may act as mediators between customers and staff by listening to and passing on their demands for quality, while explaining to them the constraints under which press operators work given the design and time available. (2)
  • Discuss work performance with crew members. They commend workers on skills mastered and job tasks accomplished well. They censure and discipline crew members for poor workmanship and conflicts with co-workers, They try to communicate honestly, firmly and in a friendly manner to improve production without damaging worker morale. (3)
  • Respond to staff members' technical questions and give instructions for special order requirements. For example, they may explain to press operators how to adjust colour mixes to compensate for different textures and weights of paper stock, and instruct bindery staff on the sequence and method for executing complicated finishing steps. They try to communicate clearly and thoroughly to prevent errors and delays. (3)
  • Train workers on the operational, maintenance and safety procedures for new presses and other equipment. They present explicit verbal instructions, demonstrate procedures, provide running commentaries and refer trainees to sections of manuals. They also observe trainees while they practice procedures and provide constructive feedback on their work. (3)
  • Interact with managers, sales staff and other department supervisors at production meetings to discuss production status, changing priorities and operational constraints. They may also present proposals for equipment purchases and marketing strategies, and persuade others on the proposals' merits. (3)
ThinkingProblem Solving
  • Receive faulty stock that can't be used for jobs as planned. For example, press supervisors may find that parts of paper shipments are water damaged and can't be used for scheduled print runs. They notify suppliers, place rush orders and may use existing stock to cover the gap until new stock arrives. (1)
  • Experience staff shortages at periods of high demand. They provide incentives to encourage remaining staff to work overtime, perform more of the work themselves and negotiate reassignment of staff from other departments. They may also put more time and resources into hiring and training new staff. (2)
  • Encounter a variety of defects in plates, proofs and printed images during production. They work with their crews to check the materials and equipment for faults and to review operating procedures to detect probable causes. They may also consult suppliers and their own companies' technical staff for advice. They identify likely solutions and have crews run tests until the defects have been corrected. They adjust production schedules to accommodate the downtime. (3)
  • Discover that conflicts among staff are lowering morale and decreasing production. They try to curtail the conflicts before they escalate, so they talk with staff to find out the nature and details of the conflicts. For example, they may find that some workers believe that other workers are not doing a fair share of the work. The supervisors encourage cooperation, speak in private with the unproductive workers and perhaps pair them with supportive, experienced workers. (3)
  • Detect major errors in finished products. For example, a prepress supervisor discovers that a reflow error has caused a key message from the chairman of the board to be deleted from an annual report. The supervisor develops action plans for meeting the needs of the client, such as offering to reprint and rebind the report, insert labels or give the client a price adjustment. (3)
Decision Making
  • Choose suppliers for papers, inks, equipment and services such as paper recycling by considering the price, quality and availability offered by each supplier. (2)
  • Allocate duties and job tasks to workers. They consider the type of work to be performed and the workers' skill sets and personalities. For example, press supervisors decide to assign workers to particular shifts to ensure crews have adequate skills for jobs scheduled. They may decide not to assign press operators with conflicting work styles to work in pairs. They may also decide to work on jobs themselves when timelines are tight and their expertise is required. (2)
  • Choose materials and methods for printing and binding jobs. For example, a prepress supervisor makes numerous operational decisions when using graphics software to create printing proof files. A press supervisor may choose printing stock, ink types, roller settings and press speeds to run print jobs. A bindery supervisor may adjust cutting, folding and stitching equipment to ensure that products are square at start and finish of bindery processes. (3)
  • Select equipment to use for jobs and determine the order in which jobs should be completed. For example, a press supervisor decides to run a small print job on a stacker instead of a print roll press, estimating that time lost using smaller capacity equipment is made up by the cost savings realized through using fewer operators. A plate room supervisor decides to run two jobs through the plate making process at once to create time and cost efficiencies. A bindery supervisor decides to fit in several small jobs before beginning a large job to maximize the company's daily deliverables and revenue. (3)
Critical Thinking
  • Judge the suitability of work produced by other departments. For example, a press supervisor judges the accuracy and efficiency with which designs from the art department can be printed. The supervisor draws on past experience with presses and designs to judge if line screen counts and the sequences of colours required by the designs are the most efficient. The press supervisor's good judgment can save time and costs on jobs by leading to design changes before the plate making stage. (2)
  • Assess the business risks of investing in new equipment and make recommendations to management. They study manufacturers' materials to determine the capabilities and qualities of new equipment, and consider initial and operational costs as well as repair rates and maintenance requirements to determine whether the equipment can be run at a profit. They must weigh potential increased production capacity and quality against the costs for equipment that can run into millions of dollars but may quickly become obsolete. (3)
  • Evaluate the suitability of candidates when participating in hiring processes. They review resumes and participate in interviews to judge candidates' experience, technical skills and stamina. They also consider candidates' personalities to judge how well they will fit in with the personalities of existing crew members. (3)
  • Evaluate the quality of finished products. They measure and visually examine products to check criteria such as image registration and alignment, colour quality and density, and straightness of folds and stitching. They consult work dockets and industry standards to determine if products meet specifications. Some criteria for quality, however, are subjective. For example, photographic printing supervisors assess the colour and saturation of prints by comparing them with customer samples and interpreting clients' instructions. They must note that instructions such as 'warm,' 'a bit colder' and 'on the light side' are individual preferences and subject to interpretation. Their evaluations are especially critical when making fine art reproductions for customers with exacting standards and when printing large volume orders which would be very expensive to repeat. (3)
Job Task Planning and Organizing

Own Job Planning and Organizing

Supervisors in printing and related occupations organize their own tasks to ensure that their departments complete work orders received from sales departments and plant managers. They plan their own tasks to review job orders, prepare work and equipment schedules, monitor the work of crew, check product quality and inventory, and attend production meetings. Their schedules are largely determined by the volume and type of work on order. They must, however, frequently adjust their schedules to accommodate changes in work volume such as influxes of rush jobs and delays caused by machinery breakdowns, faulty materials, customer complaints and order changes. (3)

Planning and Organizing for Others

Supervisors in printing and related occupations organize the work of crews in their own departments and ensure that their departments' tasks are coordinated with the schedules of other departments. They may also contribute to strategic planning decisions such as plant renovations and new equipment purchases. (3)

Significant Use of Memory
  • Remember characteristics of repeat customers such as their colour preferences and whether they tend to return proofs within specified times.
  • Remember the amount of time required for various production stages to predict job completion times.
  • Remember the characteristics of frequently-used materials such as print stock, inks and plates.
Finding Information
  • Find information about new printing and binding jobs. They locate quantities, dimensions and instructions on work orders and clarify instructions by talking to designers, customers and managers. They also review production data from past jobs. (2)
  • Find specifications in industry standards documents. For example, newspaper prepress supervisors refer to SNAP test forms and colour reference guides to look up targets for accurate colour reproduction. They look up dot percentages for hundreds of progressive tints and density levels for a range of highlights and shadows and navigate multiple-page documents to locate information presented in the form of lists, colour scales and codes. Supervisors in this occupation use considerable specialized knowledge to interpret and apply content correctly. (2)
  • Find information about supplies and equipment by speaking with product suppliers and colleagues who have used the products, arranging demonstrations by sales representatives and trying out products and equipment They may also carry out research at web sites of manufacturers and professional associations and participate in on-line discussion forums. (3)
  • Investigate customer complaints. For example, a plateroom supervisor gathers all documents pertaining to a print job to ascertain whether a customer's complaint of poor quality can be traced to plate production. The supervisor examines photos of plates, proofs, and printed samples to identify any problems, and reviews production checklists to determine if any steps were overlooked. They organize and present evidence in reports submitted to clients and management. (3)
Digital technology
  • Use word processing software. For example, they write letters to suppliers, performance appraisals for staff and promotional materials using basic text editing and limited character and page formatting. (2)
  • Use databases. For example, they may use Blueprint to access electronic docket information. They may use FilemakerPro to enter and adjust client order information and to print work orders for operators and E-Ticket to manage production files, schedule jobs and print job tickets. (2)
  • May use spreadsheets. For example, they may use Excel to create work schedules, monitor spoilage and consumption rates, and summarize staff appraisal results. (2)
  • May use bookkeeping, billing and accounting software. For example, they may enter operating and financial data into Quicken to track operating income and expenses. (2)
  • May use computer-assisted design, manufacturing and machining. For example, they may use press process control systems to monitor and adjust a variety of press functions and CREO prepress server to manage files. (2)
  • Use communications software. For example, they exchange e-mail with attachments with clients and co-workers. (2)
  • Use the Internet. For example, they may carry out research at industry web sites, place on-line orders with suppliers and retrieve files sent by customers from their companies' web sites. (2)
  • May use other computer and software applications. For example, they may use press maintenance management systems to access preventive maintenance schedules, verify equipment repairs and create work orders, and Covalent press output tracking software to display equipment operation data. (2)
  • May use graphics software. For example, they may use Illustrator to create illustrations and digital dies. They may use Photoshop to create pre-press files and check colours and text placement. They may use Acrobat to convert files submitted in Publisher to portable document format, ArtPro to take designs from Illustrator, Freehand and InDesign and to make print production files. They may use QuarkXpress to create process diagrams to explain computer to plate procedures. (3)
Additional informationOther Essential Skills:

Working with Others

The efficiency of work in printing and related occupations depends on the integration of tasks performed by various departments such as sales, pre-press, plate production, printing, bindery, conversion and shipping. Each stage of production affects the schedule and quality of other stages.

Supervisors in printing and related occupations generally work as part of a team to maximize the efficiency and quality of their plants' production. They coordinate and integrate their own tasks with those carried out by their crews to complete work assignments on time and according to specifications.

They also integrate the schedules of their own departments with the work of others. For example, they participate in production meetings with managers and other supervisors, and may communicate with clients and outside service providers, to discuss the integration of production schedules and processes. (3)

Continuous Learning

Supervisors in printing and related occupations engage in continuous learning to stay abreast of new developments in technology, business, marketing and human resources management. They generally determine their own learning goals and processes in response to changing demands of their own work. They take training to improve supervisory skills, courses provided by suppliers to learn about the operation and maintenance of new machinery and software and read manuals to get the most out of equipment and software applications. They may also read national and international trade publications, attend professional association conferences, request training from in-house staff in other departments and take college and university courses. (3)

Labour Market Information Survey
Date modified: