Desktop Publisher

Updated February 21, 2017 | Factmonster Staff

What is this job like?

Using computer software, these workers combine printed material, numbers, pictures, and charts to prepare publications. They also write and correct text. They make graphics to go with the text. They change pictures and drawings into digital pictures and then use them. They design page layouts and develop presentations. Some things produced by desktop publishers include books, business cards, calendars, magazines, newsletters, and newspapers. They prepare some material for the Internet.

Desktop publishers often perform editing and writing tasks as well as page layout and design. For page layouts, they use scanners to capture photographs, images, or art as digital data. It can be added directly into electronic page layouts with the use of computer software. They can then correct mistakes. Most page layout work is now done with computers.

Depending on the company employing these workers, they may be called publications specialists, electronic publishers, DTP operators, or desktop-publishing editors. They may also have job titles like electronic prepress technicians, electronic-publishing specialists, image designers, typographers, compositors, layout artists, and web publications designers.

They spend many hours in front of a computer monitor. They usually work an 8-hour day, 5 days a week. Some work nights, weekends, and holidays to meet deadlines. Desktop publishers may also have to work under short deadlines.

How do you get ready?

Most workers take classes or complete certificate courses at vocational schools, colleges, or through the Internet. The average certificate program takes about 1 year. Some train on the job to learn the needed skills. The length of on-the-job training varies by company. A part-time job is another way to gain skill.

Students may obtain an associate degree in applied science or a bachelor's degree in graphic arts, graphic communications, or graphic design. Courses in these fields will give the students experience using the computer programs that desktop publishers need to know.

Although formal training is not always needed, those with certificates or degrees will have the best job opportunities. Most employers want people who have good speaking skills and basic computer skills. They should be able to deal with people because they may have to take customers' orders. It is also good to have some artistic ability.

Workers with limited training and skill may start as helpers. All workers should expect to be retrained from time to time to learn about new software and equipment.

Source: The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
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