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Entrance to the Bindery Occupations

( Originally Published 1930 )

Education and Training Required.—The bindery trades do not require the preparation that is demanded of the composing-room and pressroom trades. Graduation from the eighth grade is sufficiented vocational training for the work in this branch of the printing industry. There is no place in a city where training can be secured for the various binderies themselves. No higher educational qualification or outside training is demanded of the people who work in the newspaper mailing room. This is due to the fact that none of the jobs are of a highly skilled nature, and they do not demand special preparation. It is desirable, however, that all boys and girls should obtain more education than the minimum demands call for, since it will enable them to take advantage of any better opportunities that may arise.

Age of Entrance.—Young men and women of sixteen and seventeen are hired for some of the jobs which do not require the performance of complicated operations and which do not include the use of very expensive materials. Preference is given to older people, however, because employers feel that they understand the details of the work better and are steadier workers. Since this is the situation, those who have hopes of working in a bindery some day should make a special effort to spend the time profitably in school until they are old enough to secure the jobs they desire. Then they will have secured some preparation for the positions that demand more than just routine operations.

Physical and Personal Requirements.—All classes of bindery positions require that those holding them should be in good health and should have the use of both hands. Almost every operation whether it is per-formed with the aid of machines or without requires an able-bodied person; and it would be almost impossible, therefore, to hire a person who has one hand missing. Deftness is also an essential qualification in this line of work. Good health is required of all workers in industry, because healthy people can produce more, and usually are more cheerful and agreeable than unhealthy persons. Bindery workers, therefore, should try to keep themselves physically fit. The boy who wishes to work in the newspaper mailing room must be fairly strong, in order to handle the heavy bundles; and he should be able to work at a high rate of speed.

Cheerfulness and the ability to get along with others is one of the chief personal qualities desired in all bindery workers. In the newspaper mailing room the worker should be able to work in a great deal of noise and bustle, and he should be able to respond to emergency situations that call for unusual activity. In the binderies proper the desirable personal qualities are those of patience and of ability to work steadily at jobs which do not change much from day today.

Methods of Entrance.—It is only in some newspaper mailing rooms that some definite method of entering the trade has been developed. Boys are accepted in these establishments as learners for a period of five years. During this time the learner is taught all the details of work, and his wages are increased at regular periods until he receives almost as much as a full-fledged work-man. When he completes the apprenticeship training satisfactorily, he becomes a full-fledged journeyman and is entitled to the regular wages paid to the others.

The situation is entirely different in the other binderies. Work is secured by merely applying for vacant jobs when advertisements are placed in the newspapers. The elements of the work are picked up by the beginner during the first few months in the industry.


The conditions of work are not the same in all binderies. Some are located in old buildings, while others have established themselves in the newer type of industrial structures. The sanitary features and the conditions of light, heat, and ventilation are not so favorable in the old as they are in the new buildings. However, due to the supervision of the state industrial commission, certain conditions must be fulfilled by employers which make it possible for their employees to work in safety and in comfort.

Most of the binderies require a total of 48 hours of work per week. All of them, except the newspaper mailing room, close at noon on Saturday. In the newspaper plants, Saturday is just as busy as any other day; and where a Sunday newspaper is published, the workers are required to do a double shift of duty on Saturday. There is very little seasonal work in this branch of the printing industry. The binderies connected with a printing plant are usually busy when the other departments have work, while those that are independent keep their workers occupied as long as they can secure business. Usually there is very little laying-off in the course of the year.

The wages paid to bindery workers compare quite favorably with those which are received by people in most of the other industries. The men receive more pay than the women because they are required to per-form the more difficult and the heavier pieces of work. Since they stay much longer and are more apt to remain permanently in the bindery, their wages also increase as the result of long service and of thorough acquaintance with the various processes.


The Promotional Steps.—Not many bindery workers are able to secure advancement. The men are given the preference in the matter of promotion for the same reason that they receive higher wages. Many of the girls and women leave after a comparatively short time to assume home-making responsibilities. Advancement for those who start in at the minor jobs is from one position to another until they are able to do the most highly skilled work. This requires several years of steady employment. Where there is an assistant fore-man, it is possible to be promoted to this job and then to the position of foreman of the bindery. It is hardly possible for most bindery workers to open establishments of their own because the required machinery and other equipment is very expensive.

The entering position in the newspaper mailing room is that of learner or helper. When he has become thoroughly acquainted with the work after a period of years, he is entitled to the pay and the rights of the older group of workers. He can then become foreman of the mailing room; and if he shows special ability, he may secure a position in the circulation department. In this department there is a possibility of working up to the position of circulation manager.

The Value of Education.—All of us must prepare in one way or another for our life work when we are young.

Life work includes the problems of the present as well as of the future. Preparation for these problems should give consideration to at least three very definite things to be done in a life of service. We must prepare to work in order to secure an income which will pay our living and other expenses; we must prepare to perform certain citizenship and home duties, and we should make preparation for the spending of our leisure time profitably and enjoyably. Some of us prepare for these three functions by going to school to acquire the fundamentals which will enable us to do the necessary things efficiently and intelligently, while others take the chance of picking up the required information here and there as they drift around without a plan of action. In other words, the persons who make the effort to secure an education are the ones who are usually planning the paths they will follow when they are called upon to take up the larger duties of men and women.

It is true that no definite educational and technical preparation is necessary for the work of the bindery and that advancement is slow and uncertain. The ambitious person, however, will try to find a way to advance in other directions if there is very little possibility of pro-motion in this field of work. He can secure entrance to the other trades and industries by preparing for them. The first thing he must do is to secure a solid foundation, which can be gained through a general education. This should include a thorough study of arithmetic, English, spelling, civics, geography, and history. With this as a basis it is possible to go on and prepare for specific occupations. If a boy wishes to enter the commercial world, he should study bookkeeping and accounting, commercial law, commercial geography, the operation of office machines, and other special subjects which will fit him for this work. In order to enter the metal trades, a study should be made of shop mathematics, shop sketching, mechanical drawing, and elementary chemistry and physics as a basis for a technical education in the various branches of this group. Technical training can also be secured for the building trades, the printing trades, and for many other occupations, by the person who is interested. The value of any such education is due to the fact that the possessor of it will always have something which will enable him to earn a living and to advance to positions of responsibility and respect.

Girls also can prepare for a working career by completing the basic course of study as a preliminary for future work as stenographers, bookkeepers, milliners, dress-makers, beauty culturists, and so on. In order to be successful, however, young men and women must be able to combine the education they secure in school with the practical experience they obtain in industry.

Education is also of value in assisting us to perform our citizenship and home duties. Our citizenship duties include electing the public officers, obeying the laws, and taking an intelligent interest in governmental affairs in general. In order to be good citizens, we must have a knowledge of the organization of our local, state, and national governments, and the responsibilities and the duties of the different officials. We should also know something about how this country was founded and the principles upon which our form of government is based. When we study civics and American history we can secure the knowledge which will enable us to do our duty as citizens.

Home-making duties are the joint responsibility of men and women. The greater portion of these duties, however, usually are assumed by the women. All girls, therefore, should make preparation for these duties even though they plan to enter the business world for a period of time. After the basic studies, such as arithmetic, English, history, spelling, and civics, have been completed, it is necessary for the future home maker to master a variety of subjects. She should learn some-thing about home management which includes budgeting, or making the proper distribution of the weekly or monthly wages or salary, the health and the care of children and their upbringing, the organization of the household duties, and the planning of the recreation and the use of the leisure time of the family. She should also become familiar with the best methods of cooking and the buying of foods and with the proper way of making clothes and of buying clothing economically and in good taste. Another responsibility of the home maker is that of furnishing the home in good taste, and of keeping it clean and orderly so that it will be attractive to all the members of the family. It is evident that the work of this person is as detailed and technical as is that of any other worker; and, therefore, it should be prepared for in a similar manner.

Leisure time is free time when we are not compelled to work or to perform any necessary duties. It is time which is all our own to do with as we please. Most of us have some leisure time during the day. How to use our free periods is an important question. Many of us waste this time because we have little knowledge of the many things we could do. Reading good books in the fields of travel, history, science, fiction, and biography is one way to spend leisure time profitably. Attending school after working hours is another way in which we can gain something during our free time. We can use these hours also to improve our physical selves, or we can develop an appreciation of good music, of art, and of good plays. Education is the great means of bringing us in touch with new sources of enjoyment and of learning.

We must next consider where different types of education can be obtained. The fundamental courses are taught in the grade schools which every one should complete. Further full-time instruction can be secured in the general high schools and in the technical high schools for boys and girls. Those boys and girls between the ages of fourteen and eighteen who have not graduated from high school and who have gone to work may obtain instruction in the fundamentals of many trades and occupations at the part-time schools, if there are any in their communities, which they attend one day a week. They also receive practical instruction dealing with desirable health habits and with their home and community responsibilities. Advanced education and technical training can be gained in the night classes conducted by the high schools, the vocational and trade schools, and the extension divisions of the universities.

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