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Bookbinder Print finisher

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

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £16,000 to £28,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 35 to 40 per week

1. Entry requirements

You could get into this work as a trainee or through an apprenticeship.

The British Printing Industries Federation (BPIF) have information on apprenticeships in the printing industry.

Employers will usually expect you to have some relevant experience. Any practical role where you’ve worked to exact measurements will be useful.

You may also find it useful to have GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) or equivalent, in English and maths.

To bind books by hand as a craft bookbinder, you'll need a qualification in bookbinding.

The Society of Bookbinders (SoB) and Designer Bookbinders (DB) have information about courses.

2. Skills required

You'll need:

  • practical skills to work machinery
  • attention to detail and the ability to concentrate for long periods
  • the ability to carry out repetitive tasks accurately
  • maths skills
  • business skills
  • IT skills

3. What you'll do

You could work in a print shop on the high street or in the print department of a local council or university. You might also work at a specialist company that does finishing and binding.

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

4. Salary

Starter: £16,000 to £17,000

Experienced: £18,000 to £28,000

If you're self-employed, your income will depend on the amount of work you do.

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You'll work 35 to 40 hours a week. You may work shifts.

You'll work in a factory or workshop. Machinery can be noisy so you'll use ear protectors. You’ll need a reasonable level of fitness in case you need to lift heavy boxes.

If you're self-employed, you'll work from home. You may travel to meet clients.

6. 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.

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Last updated: 11 September 2018