Alternative titles for this job include Print finisher

Bookbinders turn printed paper into books and catalogues using machines, and traditional hand binding methods for specialist books.

Average salary (a year)

£16,000 Starter


£28,000 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

41 to 43 a week

You could work

evenings / weekends on shifts

How to become a bookbinder

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role
  • applying directly
  • specialist training courses


You could do a foundation degree or degree in:

  • design crafts
  • fine art printmaking
  • art conservation and restoration

You'll need to check that your chosen course covers methods used in bookbinding.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • at least 1 A level for a foundation degree 
  • 2 to 3 A levels for a degree

More information


You could get into this work by doing an intermediate or advanced apprenticeship in print finishing.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, for an intermediate apprenticeship
  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship

More information


You could start out as a print room or reprographics assistant and work your way up through experience and taking courses.

Direct application

You could apply directly to become a bookbinder. Employers will expect you to have some relevant experience in the printing trade.

You may find it useful to have GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) or equivalent qualifications.

Other routes

You could take short specialist courses in craft binding and finishing. These can be done through organisations like the Society of Bookbinders and Designer Bookbinders.

More information

Further information

You can find out more about working in bookbinding and printing from the British Printing Industries Federation and the Heritage Crafts Association.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to work on your own
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • the ability to work well with others
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • the ability to work well with your hands
  • business management skills
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

Your role could include:

  • setting up machinery
  • feeding paper into machinery
  • reporting machine breakdowns
  • taking away and stacking finished products

If you're a craft or hand bookbinder, you might be:

  • using hand tools to make bindings for books and to sew pages
  • using traditional materials to add decoration and clean discoloured pages
  • producing specialist books like family histories or books for libraries and museums
  • repairing antique books

Working environment

You could work in a factory or in a workshop.

Your working environment may be dusty and noisy.

You may need to wear protective clothing.

Career path and progression

With experience, you could become a supervisor, or work for a specialist print finishing company.

You could also move into other jobs like printing or sales.

As a craft bookbinder, you could improve your job prospects by joining the Society of Bookbinders or Designer Bookbinders.

Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

Apprentice Large Format Print Operator

  • Wage : £146.25 Weekly
  • Location: London W1W 8BA

Apprentice Print Production Assistant Apprentice

  • Wage : £156.00 Weekly
  • Location: Watford WD17 1RD

Courses In England

Try it out: bookbinding

  • Provider: CITY LIT
  • Start date: 28 March 2020
  • Location: London

Bookbinding Workshop - Intermediate

  • Provider: Richmond And Hillcroft Adult And Community College
  • Start date: 26 February 2020
  • Location: Richmond

JobsIn the United Kingdom

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