Arts & crafts

Bookbinder

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

Annual Salary

£16,000 to £28,000

Average UK salary in 2018 was £29,588
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

41 to 43 a week

You could work: evenings / weekends; on shifts

What's it all about?

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 may need to wear protective clothing.

You could work in a factory or in a workshop.

Your working environment may be dusty and noisy.

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
  • 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, or equivalent, for a foundation degree
  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
For more information
Apprenticeship

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

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

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

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

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.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

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
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
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