Who Makes More Money- Sheetfed or Web Pressmen?

I think the answer to this question is not surprising to most pressmen.  Web pressman make more.  The question is how much and why.  This is an article that is a spinoff of one I did talking about how much the average pressman makes in various cities in the USA.  Here are some of the latest figures from Indeed.com that reflect nation wide averages for an offset printing pressmen.  I throw flexo in there just for interests sake.

Average yearly wages for pressmen in the USA

flexo pressman $41,000

web pressman $39,000

sheetfed pressman $35,000

So the average web pressman pressman makes an average of $2,000 more than a sheetfed pressman.  This difference is even more pronounced when you specify what position on the press they work.  Notice the difference below of a web press operator versus a sheetfed operator in Los Angeles.

Average yearly wages for press operator in L.A.

sheetfed press operator$33,000

web press operator$47,000

So here's the question.  Are sheetfed printers somehow better than web press printers?  Hardly.  Feel free to comment and challenge my thinking on this if you like, but I venture to say that the quality demands on sheetfed printers are much higher than web.  The craftsmanship and knowledge required to output the quality that sheetfed demands requires a higher level of expertise.  

So why then the difference in wages?  I'll venture to say for two reasons:

1.  Price of the equipment.  The stakes are much higher in web printing.  Web presses that cost ten million versus a sheetfed that costs two million are two different animals.  The expertise required may be similar, but the pressure is much higher in such expensive equipment to make it profitable.  This demand requires high qualifications from a much smaller pool of pressman in comparison with sheetfed.

2.  More money to be made.  Let's face it, web presses are capable of much higher and faster output.  Hence the jobs that web presses run are much larger and thus more money is at stake.  This greater cash flow provides more money to share with the work force.

3.  Help me out here.  Do you see any other reasons why?

I must add that the places I have worked at, the head operator of the web press usually made the most.  Then the sheetfed operators made as much as the second pressman.  Fair?  You be the judge.

Related articles:
How Much Does An Offset Pressman Make?
How To Hire And Hold A Pressman
Motivate Your Press Operator With Incentives


  1. Anonymous8:23 PM

    If you run a sheetfed press for less than 50,000 a yr you are getting the shaft

  2. Anonymous6:52 AM

    I've ran both. I believe web printing is a lil bit more challenging then sheetfed. But here in the Philly area, I believe IMHO sheetfed op get paid more. Web operators are printing less desirable less quality material. Like direct mail , newspaper inserts etc.


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