Desktop publishers format and manipulate text, drawings, photos, clip art and other information into pages and other documents and prepare them for publication. These materials are often printed on a professional, high-resolution printer or sent to a commercial printer. Desktop publishers most commonly prepare and print books, magazines, newspapers, newsletters, brochures, calendars and forms.
Desktop Publishing Job Responsibilities
Desktop publishers work with text and images to create visually appealing and informative products. They often are involved in creating the visual effects, such as charts, logos or illustrations. They may also find and edit photos and other images. Depending on the company’s size, desktop publishers may also research, write and edit the accompanying text. They may work in marketing departments and use software to develop presentations and create flyers, advertising and other types of marketing materials.
Desktop publishers work extensively with text to make it attractive and fit in with the other elements on the page. For example, size, typeface, spacing, color and style of type can be formatted and manipulated to match the desired result. Desktop publishing software allows new information and graphics to be added to the page quickly. Once the publication is compiled, it is then saved in a ready-to-print digital file format and printed.
Desktop publishers can expect to work long hours to complete projects by deadline. Because creation of printed materials can easily be done from home with the right software, more and more desktop publishers are considering work as freelancers. Freelancers are often involved in all aspects of document creation and work on a variety of projects for clients.
Desktop Publishing Training and Education Requirements
There is generally no education or degree requirement for desktop publishers. On-the-job experience can be the best training. Although there are classes and degrees available that offer education in the latest software, many desktop publishers learn by experimenting with the different features the software offers and learning its different tools and functions.
Although no formal education is generally required, those interested in a desktop publishing career are encouraged to obtain an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in a graphic arts-related program. Those with a degree will have better oportunities for employment and advancement. Courses are available at most colleges and technical schools.
Besides education, most employers prefer to hire people with good communication and computer skills. Desktop publishers need to have good interpersonal skills for communicating with co-workers and clients. They also need to be able to handle stress and pressure and work well under tight deadlines. In addition, they may need basic math skills to estimate job costs. A solid knowledge of computers, printers and scanners, and how they all interact with each other, is also needed to work as a desktop publisher.
Desktop publishers need excellent eyesight, including depth perception, color vision and focus. They must be very detail-oriented and be able to spot even the smallest inconsistencies in the text, colors or alignment. Creativity and artistic abilities are a plus. Knowledge of HTML and online publishing, or eagerness to learn, are also skills desirable by most employers.
Desktop Publishing Salary and Wages
Wages for desktop publishers vary according to company size, industry, location and education. Earnings range from $28,140 to 47,180, with the average salary at $45,340. The highest wages are in the government and motion picture/video industries, with salaries reaching the $60,000s. New York and California have the highest wages. The lowest salaries are in the printing and publishing industries.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Job outlook is not particularly promising. Jobs in the desktop publishing industry are expected to decline rapidly. Due to the curent economic environment, more workers are forced to learn desktop publishing as part of their regular job duties. Plus, with advances in technology, printed publications are fading away in favor of Web content.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Desktop Publishing Certifications
Desktop publishing certifications show employers that you have the skills to take on projects involving graphic design and page layout. Adobe offers a certification that is divided into three parts: Acrobat, Frame Maker and PageMaker. Acrobat allows you to professionally present information in PDF format to send via e-mail for review and editing. Frame Maker not only allows you to insert and format text into a certain area, but also to add graphics and other objects. PageMaker offers the same capabilites as the two aforementioned software applications, but also presents it into a publication-ready format. It can also be converted into HTML for Web publication.
Desktop Publishing Professional Associations
There are many associations available for desktop publishers to join. The American Institute of Graphic Arts focuses on excellence in graphic arts and allows members to exchange ideas and information. The Society for Technical Communication includes a diverse group of professionals, including desktop publishers, writers, editors, printers, illustrators, students and teachers. The Graphic Artists Guild is dedicated to raising standards for the graphic arts industry. The IEEE Professional Communication Society uses conferences, publications and education to advance the theory of technology.