Combining organizational and time-management skills with mechanical ability, bindery operators play a key role in book and magazine production. This shrinking field requires physical stamina and heightened attention to detail.
Bindery operators maintain and operate the machines that bind books, magazines and advertising publications. They need mechanical ability, an eye for detail and good organizational skills. A high school diploma or the equivalent, along with on-the-job training, is sufficient preparation for this job.
|Required Education||High school diploma or GED certificate, plus on-the-job training|
|Job Outlook Projections (2018-2028)*||-15% decline (print binding and finishing workers)|
|Median Salary (2018)*||$32,890 (print binding and finishing workers)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
Once a publication has been printed, the bindery operator takes over. The operator must be able to work with a variety of machines, first ensuring that they are in good working order. Most work is done by machine, so a bindery operator must be able to work with stamping, stitching, trimming, pressing and binding machines.
Few bindery operators work in smaller publishing houses; however, for those who do, skills such as hand stitching and repair work might be required. They also might produce specialty designs for limited editions and other singular projects.
Bindery operators must have a keen eye for quality control. If a problem occurs during printing, the operator must be able to halt production, repair and reset the equipment, and continue the project in a timely manner. A piece of equipment that is malfunctioning can raise production fees and cause other costly delays. Time management is also vital since many projects might be underway simultaneously.
These operators begin by reading work orders and setting up equipment according to project specifications. They work with other crew members to run the project and must be able to communicate effectively to coordinate efforts. Bindery operators also track work through job specific forms.
Machines must be checked before and after each project for possible defects. They must be cleaned prior to being used on new projects. Bindery operators also perform regularly scheduled maintenance checks on all equipment.
Bindery operators spend much of their day standing. They also lift heavy weights, bend, stoop and perform repetitive tasks. The work environment is loud and a bindery operator might be required to wear protective gear.
Most bindery operators begin with nothing more than a high school diploma or GED. They get experience through on-the-job training. There also are baccalaureate degree programs for bindery operators; a listing of accredited schools can be found through The Accrediting Council for Collegiate Graphic Communications, Inc. Most programs are for general graphic communications, but they do teach basic bindery and finishing.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, print binding and finishing workers earned a mean annual wage of $34,850 in May 2018. However, bindery workers employed by the federal government made considerably more, at $80,750 per year.
A bindery operator typically learns the trade through on-the-job training. This field is predicted to decline over the next several years, probably due to the rise of digital media. Salary ranges depending on the sector of work, with federal government jobs paying the most.