Bookbinder

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)

£18,000 Starter

to

£30,000 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

University

You could do a foundation degree or degree in:

  • design crafts
  • 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, or equivalent, for a foundation degree
  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree

More Information

Apprenticeship

The following apprenticeships may be relevant to this role:

  • Level 2 Bookbinder
  • Level 3 Print technician

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

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

More Information

Work

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 taken 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.

You can also find out more about working in creative careers from Discover Creative Careers.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to work well with your hands
  • observation and recording skills
  • knowledge of manufacturing production and processes
  • concentration skills
  • the ability to work on your own
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

You could:

  • set up and feed paper into machinery
  • glue and stitch using hand operated machines
  • cut paper to size using hand and machine cutting tools
  • check the quality of work and meet production deadlines
  • identify issues and report machine breakdowns
  • take away and stack finished products

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

  • use hand tools to make bindings for books and to sew pages
  • use traditional materials to add decoration and clean discoloured pages
  • produce specialist books like family histories or books for libraries and museums
  • repair 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

Print Finisher & Sign Manufacturing Apprenticeship

  • Wage: £146.25 Weekly
  • Location: Manchester

Apprentice Folder Gluer and Platen Operator

  • Wage: £215.62 Weekly
  • Location: Shipley

Courses In England

Bookbinding for all: FULL

  • Provider: DEVON COUNTY COUNCIL
  • Start date: 04 March 2021
  • Location: Exmouth

Bookbinding for all: FULL

  • Provider: DEVON COUNTY COUNCIL
  • Start date: 03 March 2021
  • Location: Exmouth

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