A career in print and publishing

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Next time you pick up a book, magazine or newspaper, think about the number of people who have helped produce it. Even a simple business letter or greetings card will probably have involved the skills of writers, designers and printers. This book aims to give you a picture of what life is like for thousands of people who work in print and publishing.

What jobs are available?

The case studies in this book describe just a small number of jobs in this field. Print and publishing companies, also need a range of support staff in areas like sales, marketing and publicity, human resources, IT, accountancy, administration and clerical work.

Where could I work?

There are printing companies and local and regional newspapers in towns and cities all over the UK. However most national newspapers, magazines, and many book publishing houses are based in London, so you may have to relocate to find work or seek promotion.

What skills will I need?

If you enjoy creative writing, art and design, IT or practical work with your hands, you may find a job in this sector that interests you. This industry is all about communication and for many jobs communications skills are vital, whether you are writing a story for a national newspaper which will be read by thousands of people, or working on a one-to-one basis in customer service.

What about qualifications?

There are opportunities in the printing industry for entrants at every level, from people with no formal qualifications to graduates. Apprenticeships and vocational training such as NVQs/SVQs are available. Although there are no set minimum qualifications for many jobs in publishing and journalism, the profession is extremely competitive, and in practice the majority of entrants have degrees or postgraduate qualifications.

How important is work experience?

Work experience is very important as it demonstrates your enthusiasm and commitment to potential employers. It is particularly important for jobs in publishing and journalism, and many companies will only employ candidates with a good track record of work experience. Many of the people featured in this book found that work experience helped them to build up a network of useful contacts and often led to paid employment. In such a competitive field it is difficult to find opportunities even for unpaid work, so you must be prepared to be persistent.

Can I receive training?

The sector has a good training record, with many companies funding training for employees. Technology in this sector changes quickly, so it is important that skills are kept up to date. Training opportunities range from vocational qualifications like NVQS/SVQs in printing to short courses on subjects like editing, proofreading and the use of software packages.

Are there opportunities for self-employment?

Self-employment, or 'freelancing', is common in many publishing jobs. There are opportunities for freelance authors, journalists, editors, illustrators and designers. For some jobs, including authors and proofreaders, freelancing is the norm.

Print and publishing factfile

  • Printing is one of the UKs biggest industries, employing over 170,000.
  • There are more than 2,000 book publishers in the UK, producing around 125,000 different titles each year.
  • About 8,500 different magazine titles are produced and almost 1,400 newspapers published each year.
  • Commercial publishing employs about 185,000 people.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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