Career outlook for bookbinder or print finisher

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary


Currently employed in Scotland


Average UK salary


Currently employed in Scotland


"LMI for All" supplies our salary and employment status information. "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures.

Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

You would make books for people to read and love. You’d either use a machine or make a book by hand crafting beautiful and unique bindings and decoration.

You would turn printed paper into finished products, such as books, booklets and catalogues.

As a print finisher or machine bookbinder you would use machines that automatically cut paper to the correct size, fold the sheets, and glue or staple the sections together.

You would:

  • Set up machinery
  • Feed the machinery with paper
  • Report machine breakdowns
  • Take away and stack the finished products

As a craft or hand bookbinder, you would work on a much smaller scale and work by hand. You’d use traditional materials like cloth or leather to cover the books.

You would:

  • Hand bind small numbers of books, such as family histories or books for libraries, museums and special collections
  • Use specialist hand tools to make bindings for books and to sew pages together
  • Decorate the cover, for example, with gold lettering and edging or marbled end-papers

You could also restore and repair antique books, cleaning discoloured pages or using leathers and papers to match those originally used.

You might also run courses for people who would like to learn some of the skills and try making their own book.

As a craft bookbinder, you’d need the ability to run yoru own business and be willing to work alone for much of the time.

Working conditions


As a print finisher or machine bookbinder, your working week would usually be around 37 hours. Some companies operate a shift system. At busy times you may be asked to do overtime, involving evening or weekend work. As a self-employed craft bookbinder, you would set your own hours according to your workload.


As a print finisher or machine bookbinder, you would work in a factory or workshop. Some machines are noisy, so you may need to use ear protectors. As a self-employed craft bookbinder, you would usually work from home.


As a self-employed craft bookbinder, you may need to travel to meet clients.

UK employment status





Self employed


Here are some of the skills needed for this job. Sign in to see how your skills match up.

  • Creative
  • Problem solving
  • Attention to detail
  • Concentrating
  • Managing resources
  • Taking initiative

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.


There are no formal qualifications required to enter this role but it is helpful to have a good general education.

Relevant qualifications are Creative Print Making Higher National Certificate (SCQF level 7) or Higher National Diploma (SCQF level 8); entry requires National 4/5 qualifications and one to two Highers. 

Useful subjects

  • English
  • Maths
  • A science subject
  • Technologies subjects