Desktop Publishers

Career, Salary and Education Information

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What Desktop Publishers Do[About this section] [To Top]

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

Duties of Desktop Publishers

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.

Work Environment for Desktop Publishers[About this section] [To Top]

Desktop publishers hold about 14,800 jobs. The industries that employ the most desktop publishers are as follows:

Newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers 31%
Printing and related support activities 14
Professional, scientific, and technical services 12

About one-third of desktop publishers worked in publishing industries. Others worked for companies in industries that produce their own published materials, such as in professional, scientific, and technical services.

Desktop Publisher Work Schedules

Many desktop publishers work full time, and they may need to work additional hours to meet publication deadlines. Some may work various shifts, such as morning, evening, or night.

How to Become a Desktop Publisher[About this section] [To Top]

Get the education you need: Find schools for Desktop Publishers near you!

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

Desktop Publisher Education

Desktop publishers usually need an associate’s degree, often in graphic design, graphic arts, 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.

Desktop Publisher 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.

Important Qualities for Desktop Publishers

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

Communication skills. Desktop publishers must be able to collaborate with others, such as writers, editors, and graphic designers, and communicate ideas effectively.

Detail oriented. Desktop publishers must pay 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 documents ready in time for publication.

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.

Desktop Publisher Salaries[About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]

The median annual wage for desktop publishers is $39,840. 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 $23,150, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $68,670.

The median annual wages for desktop publishers in the top industries in which they work are as follows:

Professional, scientific, and technical services $45,310
Printing and related support activities 37,670
Newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers 37,160

Many desktop publishers work full time, and they may need to work additional hours to meet publication deadlines. Some may work various shifts, such as morning, evening, or night.

Job Outlook for Desktop Publishers[About this section] [To Top]

Employment of desktop publishers is projected to decline 21 percent through 2024.

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.

Employment projections data for Desktop Publishers, 2014-24
Occupational Title Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24
Percent Numeric
Desktop publishers 14,800 11,700 -21 -3,100

*Some content used by permission of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor.

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