Are you a computer whiz who hopes to earn a living doing what you are good at? Do you enjoy pecking away at your computer for long periods of time and take great pride in seeing what you can create? Desktop publishing will allow you to use the computer, along with a variety of software, to create visual displays of information and ideas. Depending upon where you are employed, your desktop publishing documents may be used for electronic distribution, for desktop printing, or for commercial printing. You may find yourself working with email newsletters, blogs, ebooks, the internet, PDF files, designing websites, or slide shows. It is also likely that you will be working with a variety of publishing platforms to accommodate for venues such as tablets and smartphones. Your career starts with a desktop publishing course from an accredited school.
To become a desktop publisher you will need to complete your associate of applied science degree. The coursework in this degree program will teach students how to use specific computer software to design pages, create a page layout, to write and to edit; each of these aspects will be taught in reference to a print publication as well as a web publication. Depending upon the learning institution you choose to attend, you may also be required to complete an internship and a portfolio. This will allow you the opportunity to demonstrate your proficiency in developing and producing corporate documents in a real world setting. Upon completion of an associate’s degree program you will be well-versed in the use of programs such as Illustrator, FrameMaker, and InDesign. It is also possible for you to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in desktop publishing. While the coursework in this degree program is much the same as that of an associate’s degree program, you can expect the coursework to be presented at a more advanced level. In addition, students may be required to complete elective type courses related to art and design along with major classes. Take a moment and research any of the schools that you see listed on the site; they will then take a moment and send you a free information packet regarding your educational career path. With some sort of a formal degree in desktop publishing under your belt, you can also pursue a career as an electronic publisher, a desktop publishing editor, a publication specialist, an image designer, a layout artist, or a web publication designer. It is important to note that many of these popular occupations have similar job responsibilities and rates of pay. Get your questions answered by any of the design schools listed below!
Picking Desktop Publishing As A Career
If you've been thinking about what a desktop publisher really does, then you only need to take a look at the menu of your favorite restaurant or the brochure of your favorite city or even a magazine that you love to read! Regardless of the fact that you read any of these online or in print, there is a high chance that a desktop publisher was involved. By using publishing software, the desktop publisher produces the menu, brochure, magazine, etc. Apart from that, a desktop publisher is also responsible for creating items including business cards, tickets, packaging, newsletters, newspapers, books, business proposals, and financial reports. To sum it up, the desktop publisher combines and formats text, charts, photographs, numerical data, and illustrations along with other visual graphic elements. That is why what a desktop publisher does can be seen almost all around us. It can be quite a fascinating job for people who have an interest in the field. It's also a good choice for individuals who like being creative.
Facts about Employment
In 2012, a majority of desktop publishers were employed in the printing and publishing industry. Meanwhile, others are also employed in the in-house departments in public relations and advertising firms. Usually, desktop publishers are employed full-time, and they often need to work overtime to meet their designated deadlines. That is why, even though people might enjoy being a desktop publisher, it is a job that can require a lot of dedication and hard work.
Job Outlook for Desktop Publishers
The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the employment in the desktop publishing industry to decline by the year 2022. It further states that having relevant experience or a college degree can increase the chance of getting a job. It is projected that the employment opportunities from desktop publishers will decline by 21% by the year 2024. The purpose of desktop publishing is to mainly design various printed materials like forms, newsletters, brochures, and advertisements. In the years ahead, it is predicted that the companies will hire fewer people as desktop publishers. This drastic decline is mainly because of the fact that other workers like editors, web designers and graphic designers are now perfectly capable of performing all the tasks of a desktop publisher. Moreover, since organizations have started to publish all of their materials electronically instead of getting them printed, the chances of employment for desktop publishers will further decrease.
Average Salary and Earnings for Desktop Publishers
According to a survey conducted in 2014, the average annual salary of desktop publishers was around $38,000 while the average hourly earnings were almost $19. The bottom 10% of the people employed in the industry earned around $23,000 while the top 10% of people earned almost $69,000. The average salary of a desktop publisher also depends on the industry they work in. For example, in 2015, the desktop publishers that were involved in technical, professional, and scientific services earned an average of almost $45,000. Similarly, those employed in printing or other support activities earned almost $38,000 at an average. Meanwhile, others involved in directory publishing, newspaper, and periodical publishing earned around $37,000.
What does an average day in the life of a desktop publisher look like?
On a typical day, the desktop publisher has to perform the following tasks mainly:
• Create, as well as format newsletters, placemats, brochures, and flyers using a variety of tools to meet the requirements of the clients. The tools include Word templates, company templates, and customized PowerPoint layouts.
• Import, copy, and format graphics into the already existing design templates.
• Finish up the creation and modifications of document accurately and well within the defined time period.
• Design graphics for online advertising, promotions, social media, and traditional advertising as well.
• Review all the work done thoroughly before sending it on to the editors.
• Troubleshoot and solve common issues that a document might have like artwork, fonts, and other depictions like tables and graphs. He or she also needs to determine the best solution to the problems encountered.
• Use a number of software programs to complete projects.
What are the duties of a desktop publisher?
As a desktop publisher, you will be responsible for the following duties:
• Review all of the materials like graphics and text that has been created by designers and writers
• Edit the graphics like illustrations and photographs
• Import the graphics and text into the publishing software
• Integrate all of the text and the images to create excellent, cohesive pages
• Adjust the various properties of the text like the spacing, width of the column, and the size of the text
• Revise the layouts and make corrections where they are required
• Upload or submit the final files for online publishing or printing
Desktop publishers use a variety of publishing software to make layouts of pages for electronic publication or print. They may also edit the text by correcting the grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Desktop publishers also often work with other marketing, design, and media workers including graphic designers, editors, and writers. For instance, a desktop publisher might be required to work with a team of graphic designers in order to come up with relevant images that complement the text well and fill up all the available space.
In the year 2014, desktop publishers took almost around 15,000 jobs. The statistics of employment of the majority of desktop publishers in different industries were:
• Publishers of books, directories, periodicals, and newspapers employed 31% of the desktop publishers
• Printing and other related activities employed 14% of the desktop publishers
• Technical, scientific, and professional services employed 12% of the desktop publishers
Almost one-third of the desktop publishers were employed in the publishing industry while the other desktop publishers worked for such companies that create their own materials and publish them like technical, professional, and scientific services.
Qualities needed to become a desktop publisher
There are a few qualities that a desktop publisher must have to be very successful
• Artistic abilities
Desktop publishers need to have a keen eye for how the texts and graphics will look coupled together so that they can make pages that are not only legible but are also appealing visually. It's all about catching someone else's eye. A desktop publisher needs to have an idea about what kind of an audience is being targeted and how to attract their attention.
• Communication skills
A desktop publisher must have the ability to collaborate and corporate well with other people like graphic designers, writers, and editors. They should also be able to communicate and convey their ideas effectively and clearly. This has become important due to the employment predictions regarding becoming a desktop publisher. Only by being ready to work with others can most of these professionals hope to continue having a career, depending on the kind of organization they're employed by.
• Detail orientation
A desktop publisher needs to be able to pay close attention to minute details such as font sizes and margins. They should also pay attention to the accuracy and the overall appearance of the work they hand in. You can't rush the work of a desktop publisher. In a lot of cases, they're the final eyes of every project. That's why they need to do whatever possible to ensure that there are no mistakes in the project that they're handling.
• Organizational skills
Desktop publishers are often required to work under tough deadlines. Therefore, they must be efficient at prioritizing and scheduling tasks so that they have the required documents completely ready for publication before the deadline. As mentioned, time management is key in such a profession. Again, one can't be rushed due to time constraints. Evene with short deadlines, a desktop publisher needs to ensure everything is in the right order.
Typically, there is no need to have a college degree if you wish to become a desktop publisher. This is because of the fact that you learn the majority of required skills while on the job. However, if you have a certificate or an associate degree, then you will have a high chance of getting the best jobs available out there. The essential skills that are needed are basically strong computer skills, in particular with how to use different publishing programs. To become the best desktop publisher, you should be well-versed with the various desktop publishing software including Photoshop, Illustrator, PageMaker, and InDesign. There are some employees that prefer to employ those that either have a bachelor's degree in graphic arts or graphic design. Here are some of the education options you can go for if you want to get the highest paid job in the field.
Desktop Publishing Certificate
The certificate programs designed for desktop publishers provide the very basic design training. The certificate program is an ideal program for those who want to take an entry-level job in the field. The program introduces the students to various concepts including publishing software, design principles, and the concepts of desktop publishing. Other courses that the students have to take include copywriting, visual communications, computer graphics, and electronic publishing. The majority of such certificate programs are not only offered at universities but are also available at colleges. These programs can be completed in a maximum of two semesters only!
Associate Degree Programs
Those aiming to advance in the field of desktop publishing might finish up an associate degree either in graphic arts or visual communication. The associate degree in desktop publishing, just like for all other professions, also takes two years for completion. This two-year program prepares the students to develop the layout for printing, manage the flow of work, and create personalized layouts. In fact, students often combine the computer-based lab practices with the design theories taught in class to become better at desktop publishing. Graduates of the associate degree are expected to not only have a vast knowledge about desktop publishing, but they should also have a complete understanding of electronic, as well as traditional publishing. Among the courses that the students will have to take in the associate degree, some of them include the following:
• Web design
• General math
• Digital photography
• Desktop publishing
• Graphic design
Completing a bachelor's program to become a desktop publisher primarily involves completing a degree program in visual media arts, graphic arts, visual communication, or graphic design. Moreover, students also often have to complete courses in graphic arts, visual arts, marketing, communications, or advertising. Towards the completion of the program, the students possess professional writing techniques and gain advanced skills in designing. Most of the students work on their portfolios showcasing professional designs by doing local internships in advertising agencies, graphic design firms, or newspaper agencies before they graduate. Among the courses that the students will be enrolled in a bachelor’s degree, some of them include:
• Web page design and HTML
• Desktop publishing
• Applications of digital photography
• Principles of design
It is vital for desktop publishers to pay close attention to detail. They must also have the skills to turn the design expectations of the client into fruitful results. The desktop publisher acts as the middle man between publishers and the clients. Thus, they need to have good communication skills along with strong ethics for their work. Moreover, desktop publishers need to continue their professional development as technology advances to continue providing the best services to their employers or clients. An individual aspiring to become a desktop publisher should be willing to learn the latest techniques as well as the method of applying recent techniques as the industry continues to progress. There are no licensure mandates or certification requirements that bound desktop publishers. However, there's a majority of people that join a professional association like an institute of arts so that they can illustrate their professional credibility. Such associations don't really provide any certification; however, they do provide a professional forum for graphic designers and desktop publishers. The members can take part in seminars, workshops, and annual design conferences.
By working in such institutions, individuals also get access to the publications and guidelines that are specific to the industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, individuals that have very limited skills or formal skills usually work under experienced supervisors. The individuals might have the chance of advancement once they master the publishing skills and design or complete some formal training programs. Meanwhile, the individuals that are more experienced like those with an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree are often able to secure editorial or managerial positions. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also lists down many of the possible positions for desktop publishers as DTP operators, layout artists, desktop publishing editors, electronic prepress technicians, specialists of electronic publishing, and publication specialists. Individuals can also find a few positions as designers for web publications or they can also find employment with firms of graphic design, agencies for advertising, book publishers, newspapers, and magazines. When looking for employment, it is important that the desktop publisher demonstrates excellent desktop publishing and graphic designing skills. Individuals can also train while they or on the job or they can opt for completing internships. Regardless of the method adopted, the hands-on experience gained helps the individuals to build professional resumes that demonstrate their proficiency in desktop publishing well enough to stand out among others.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics also suggests that desktop publishers should be proficient in basic mathematical ratios. It will also be beneficial if such individuals to have good artistic abilities, accurate perception of depth, a keen eye sight, and good dexterity. These skills can usually be gained on the job; however, employers often do ask individuals to complete either formal certificates or degree programs in visual communication and graphic design before employment. So, to sum it up, training for desktop publishing is offered either as an associate’s degree or a certificate apart from the training received while on the job. Furthermore, the bachelor’s degree provides an in-depth study of all the things involved in desktop publishing.
To become quite successful in the industry, you don’t only need to possess excellent technical skills. In fact, you also need to have particular soft skills as well as great personal qualities. For example, you need to have an artistic aptitude. Similarly, you must also have exceptional critical thinking skills so that you can weigh the benefits and problems of alternative solutions to a certain problem. Moreover, having good speaking skills and active listening skills will also help you to receive and convey information between clients and colleagues accurately. Having efficient time management skills, detail orientation, and organization skills is also a plus. This is also the kind of job where you might have to face a lot of rejection or criticism when working on projects. Your clients won't always like what you deliver. That's why you should be open to listening to them and making the required changes in anything you're working on.
Workers that have a limited experience and little training can start out as helpers that receive guidance and instructions from the experienced publisher. However, as the individual starts to master different new skills, gains a bit of experience, and keeps he or she updated with the latest software can advance to other positions that have greater responsibilities like management positions or supervisory positions. In fact, some of them might even start up their own desktop publishing companies. Those with artistic abilities and higher education can also find job opportunities in commercial art and graphic design. The majority of employers prefer to employ those workers that have some experience in preparing layouts and have previously used desktop publishing software. Students can also gain some experience by taking part in a publication for schools or similar organizations.
Those with a certificate in desktop publishing can also go for other career options such as the following
• Word typist and processors
Such a person types letters as well as other printed materials with the help of a computer. At an average, the person earns around $37,000, and the education required just a high school diploma or a diploma equivalent to it.
• Administrative assistant or secretary
Such a person is responsible for performing clerical functions such as writing correspondence, making appointments, and filing documents. At an average, a person can earn around $33,000, and the majority of the employers prefer to hire those that have an associate degree
Such a person checks various transcripts and looks out for grammatical, typographical, and spelling errors. The median salary of such a person is around $35,000, and the minimum education required is a bachelor’s degree.
Such a person is responsible for planning, reviewing, and revising the content that is to be published.
• Camera operators, and video and film editors
The responsibility of such people is primarily to manipulate moving images that inform or entertain an audience.
• Graphic designers
A graphic designer is responsible for making visual concepts either by hand or with the help of computer software. The purpose of such visual concepts is to communicate ideas that captivate, inspire, and inform consumers. Graphic designers develop the production design and the overall layout of various applications like corporate reports, magazines, brochures, and advertisements.
• Animators and multimedia artists
Such individuals are responsible for creating visual effects and animations for various kinds of media like video games, movies, and television.
• Printing working
These people produce the material for print in three basic stages; the first is the prepress, the second is the press, and the last is the finishing and binding. Such people also review the print specifications, calibrate the color settings on the printers, identify as well as fix any issues that might occur with the printing equipment, and they assemble pages as well.
• Technical writers
These are also known as technical communicators, and their job responsibility is to come up with how-to guides, instruction manuals, journal articles, as well as supporting documents that can communicate technical and complex information more easily and efficiently. Moreover, they are also responsible for developing, gathering, and disseminating technical information by using the communication channels of an organization.