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PrintED Competencies & Assessments

PrintED, administered by the Graphic Arts Education and Research Foundation (GAERF), is a national accreditation program based on industry standards and appropriate for secondary and post-secondary schools offering graphic communications curricula.

Benefits of Accreditation:

  • To the student, PrintED provides a career pathway to enter the workplace with verifiable credentials, or to pursue further education with college credit already in hand.
  • To the educator, PrintED ensures an instructional program that is current and relevant, consistent across the nation, and aligned with industry standards.
  • To the employer, PrintED graduates promise a knowledgeable, trained, and skilled workforce.

PrintED Standards:

PrintED has identified six standards that encompass the elements of a solid training program. For a program to be awarded accreditation, it must meet these standards in at least two accreditation areas, one of which must be Introduction to Graphic Communications.

Graphic Communications Skills Competencies (GCSC):

Developed by educators and industry professionals, GCSC provide measurable or observable knowledge, skills, abilities, and behaviors critical to successful job performance. These competencies form the basis for instruction in the six areas of PrintED accreditation listed below.

Introduction to Graphic Communications

All programs must be accredited in this area.

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.

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.

View full list of Digital File Preparation and Output competencies

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.

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.

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.

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.

View full list of Screen Printing competencies


PrintED and SkillsUSA Partner to
SkillsUSA Career Essentials: Assessments

To provide students with credentials that validate their mastery of competencies, and to help meet government education requirements, GAERF and SkillsUSA have established a partnership to offer online PrintED/SkillsUSA Career Essentials: Assessments. These examinations test technical skills and knowledge with interactive questions enriched by animations, videos, drawings and photographs.

Students who achieve a passing score on any of the SkillsUSA/PrintED Co-branded assessments will be awarded a PrintED/SkillsUSA Student Certification in that subject area and the certificate will display GAERF, PrintED, and SkillsUSA logos. The certificate will be valid for two years past the date of the certificate.

PrintED/SkillsUSA Career Essentials Assessment Certificate  

Assessments Available for Purchase

  • Introduction to Graphic Communications (replaces Graphic Communications)
  • Advertising Design (to be discontinued May 2018)
  • Graphic Design (available fall of 2017- replaces Advertising Design)
  • Digital Production Printing
  • Digital File Preparation/Digital File Output
  • Offset Press Operations/Binding & Finishing
  • Screen Printing