CAREER AT A GLANCE

The world sees his colorful work every day

Name: Hassan Shareef
Age: 34
Occupation: Flexographic printing manager
Location: Delray Beach, Florida
Ever wonder who is responsible for the bright, multicolored designs on frozen food packages? It’s people like Hassan Shareef in the behind-the-scenes industry of flexographic printing.
Flexography is one of three major printing processes, which include offset lithography, used mainly in magazine and newspaper printing, and gravure, often used in packaging, which involves printing with an engraved copper cylinder. What makes flexography printing unique is its ability to print on any substance (i.e., plastic material, CDs and paper), using a rubber plate called a photopolymer.

The flexography industry is broken into three parts: design, which is the creation of concepts and packages; pre-press, which is the creation of plate-ready film or plates; and press, which is putting the final product on the press.

Training: No specific degree is required. Typically, workers will begin on-the-job training with an experienced professional and advance as they master skills at each level of instruction. The length of training required for pre-press jobs varies by occupation. Some, such as typesetting, can be learned in a few months. Others, such as film stripping, will take years to master.

Shareef began his career in flexography 13 years ago, after earning an associate’s degree in printing, publishing and advertising management from New York City Technical College. As a trainee, Shareef worked as a proofer in the Young Sisters and Brothers magazine’s trade shop, producing four-color separation proofs for the now-defunct publication. He has also handled color separations for other magazines, such as black enterprise, The Source and Vibe.

Salary: The career ladder extends from an entry-level position as a trainee to management. Salaries range from $20,000 to $100,000, depending on the state in which you live. As a manager for Imaging International Inc., a flexographic, pre-press company, Shareef earns over $50,000 a year.

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