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 14,600 jobs. The largest employers of desktop publishers are as follows:

Newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers 31%
Professional, scientific, and technical services 14
Printing and related support activities 9
Self-employed workers 7
Administrative and support services 6

Desktop Publisher Work Schedules

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

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. They also receive short-term on-the-job training, lasting about 1 month.

Education for Desktop Publishers

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.

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 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 for Desktop Publishers

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 $41,090. 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 $23,230, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $70,290.

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

Professional, scientific, and technical services $47,850
Administrative and support services 44,330
Printing and related support activities 39,960
Newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers 37,080

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

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

Employment of desktop publishers is projected to decline 14 percent over the next ten years.

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, 2016-26
Occupational Title Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26
Percent Numeric
Desktop publishers 14,600 12,600 -14 -2,000


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

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