Desktop publishers use computer software to design page layouts for newspapers, books, brochures, and other items that are printed or published online.

Duties

Desktop publishers typically do the following:

  • Review text, graphics, or other materials created by writers and designers
  • Edit graphics, such as photographs or illustrations
  • Import text and graphics into publishing software
  • Integrate images and text to create cohesive pages
  • Adjust text properties, such as size, column width, and spacing
  • Revise layouts and make corrections as necessary
  • Submit or upload final files for printing or online publishing

Desktop publishers use publishing software to create page layouts for print or electronic publication. They may edit text by correcting its spelling, punctuation, and grammar.

Desktop publishers often work with other design, media, or marketing workers, including writers, editors, and graphic designers. For example, they work with graphic designers to come up with images that complement the text and fit the available space.

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Work Environment

Desktop publishers held about 12,600 jobs in 2018. The largest employers of desktop publishers were as follows:

Newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers                             32%
Professional, scientific, and technical services 13
Self-employed workers 12
Printing and related support activities 8

Work Schedules

Many desktop publishers work full time, and they may need to work additional hours to meet publication deadlines.

Education and Training

Desktop publishers usually need an associate’s degree. They also receive short-term on-the-job training, lasting about 1 month.

Education

Desktop publishers usually need an associate’s degree, often in graphic design or graphic communications. Community colleges and technical schools offer desktop-publishing courses, which teach students how to create electronic page layouts and format text and graphics with the use of desktop-publishing software.

Training

Desktop publishers typically receive short-term on-the-job training lasting about 1 month. They learn by working closely with more experienced workers or by taking classes that teach them how to use desktop-publishing software. Workers often need to continue training because publishing software changes over time.

Other Experience

Many employers prefer to hire workers who have experience preparing layouts and using desktop-publishing software. Students may gain experience by working on a publication for a school or other organization.

Personality and Interests

Desktop publishers typically have an interest in the Creating and Organizing interest areas, according to the Holland Code framework. The Creating interest area indicates a focus on being original and imaginative, and working with artistic media. The Organizing interest area indicates a focus on working with information and processes to keep things arranged in orderly systems.

If you are not sure whether you have a Creating or Organizing interest which might fit with a career as a desktop publisher, you can take a career test to measure your interests.

Desktop publishers should also possess the following specific qualities:

Artistic ability. Desktop publishers must have a good eye for how graphics and text will look to create pages that are visually appealing, legible, and easy to read.

Communication skills. Desktop publishers talk through different concepts for a page layout with writers, editors, and graphic designers. They listen to ideas and explain their own.

Computer skills. Many desktop publishers use computer software exclusively when creating page layouts and formatting text and graphics.

Detail oriented. When designing and reviewing page layouts, desktop publishers must pay careful attention to details such as margins, font sizes, and the overall appearance and accuracy of their work. 

Organizational skills. Desktop publishers often work under strict deadlines and must be good at scheduling and prioritizing tasks in order to have a document ready on time for publication.

Pay

The median annual wage for desktop publishers was $45,390 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $23,850, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $78,190.

In May 2019, the median annual wages for desktop publishers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Printing and related support activities $48,720
Professional, scientific, and technical services 46,690
Newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers                                    38,380

Many desktop publishers work full time, and they may need to work additional hours to meet publication deadlines.

Job Outlook

Employment of desktop publishers is projected to decline 16 percent from 2018 to 2028.

Desktop publishing is commonly used to design printed materials, such as advertisements, brochures, newsletters, and forms. Companies are expected to hire fewer desktop publishers, however, as other types of workers—such as graphic designers, web designers, and editors—increasingly perform desktop-publishing tasks.

As organizations increasingly publish their materials electronically instead of printing them, employment of desktop publishers may decline further.

For More Information

For more information about the printing industry, visit

Printing Industries of America

 

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The career information above is taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook. This excellent resource for occupational data is published by the U.S. Department of Labor every two years. Truity periodically updates our site with information from the BLS database.

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