Process Engraver

Process engravers prepare all types of illustrations that cannot be typeset. They operate process cameras and produces negatives of photographs and other artwork.

These negatives are developed to make light impressions (exposures) on metal plates that are highly sensitive to light. Sections of the plates that have been exposed to light become resistant to acid. When the plate is immersed in a nitric acid bath, the acid etches away the unexposed sections of the plate and reveals the sections in full relief. As soon as a print is ready, it is ruled according to size and mounted on wood. The blocks are then mounted and composed in page form.

Process engravers usually work indoors in rooms in which the cameras are kept. They also work in specials room in which light is used to transpose the impression of the negative on to the metal plates. Another room is used for lining, mounting and finishing off the product.

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

  • Grade 10 Certificate for a learnership at a company
  • National Senior Certificate for full-time training at the South African Printing College

What to Study

Diploma: South African Printing College

There are 3 ways to qualify as a registered artisan:

1. An apprenticeship is a fixed contract between company and apprentice, ranging in duration from between 18 months and 4 years. At the end of the contract, the apprentice writes a trade test leading to professional certification.

2. A learnership is a structured learning programme ranging from about a year to 3 years. A learnership comprises theoretical and practical training. Practical training is conducted on site (on the premises of the organisation). This has the advantage that the learner gets experience whilst training.

3. TVET colleges offer theoretical training to prospective artisans via the new National Certificate Vocational (NCV). During this 3-year programme (levels 2 to 4), learners complete a school-leaving certificate (NCV) similar to the new National Senior Certificate (NSC) in schools. They are also exposed to a practical workshop component.

All learners are required to complete a practical internship under the supervision of an experienced artisan. As an alternative to doing the full qualification, a learner can apply to do a skills programme at a TVET College. Skills programmes are short practical hands-on courses.

For more information about qualifications and skills programmes, contact your nearest TVET College. TVET Colleges are accredited and funded by a SETA (Sector Education and Training Authority) such as MerSETA or ChietaSETA. They also receive bursary funding through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) for the NCV programme..


  • commercial printing plants
  • book and magazine publishers
  • newspaper plants
  • stationery and envelope manufacturers
  • government departments e.g. government printing works
  • manufacturers and other firms that do their own printing
  • self-employment, with enough experience and capital, can start own business

Further Information

Printing Industries Federation of South Africa (PIFSA)
P O Box 1396
Gallo Manor, 2052
The Braids
113 - 115 Bowling Avenue
Gallo Manor, 2191
Tel: (011) 287-1160 Fax: (011) 287-1178

Getting Started

  • try to obtain vacation work at a printing factory
  • speak to a gravure machine operator about this type of work
  • consult the Registrar of Manpower Training concerning learnership programmes in your area

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