Bookbinders turn printed paper into books and catalogues using machines, and traditional hand binding methods for specialist books.
Salary range: £16,000 to £28,000
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.
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
- equivalent entry requirements
- student finance for fees and living costs
- university courses and entry requirements
You could get into this work by doing an intermediate or advanced apprenticeship in print finishing.
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
You could start out as a print room or reprographics assistant and work your way up through experience and taking courses.
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.
You can also find out more about working in creative careers from Discover Creative Careers.
What it takes
Skills and knowledge
- 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
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
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.