How to Become a Desktop Publisher

Desktop publishing is an office job that requires the employee to create visual displays for printed materials or digital use. A desktop publisher may create calendars, business cards, signage, brochures, charts, graphs, or any number of other needed visual aids in a company. In many ways a desktop publisher is similair to a graphic design artist, but without the needed education and artistic background.



Tasks and Assignments

Associates Degree
Find Related CareersSOURCE: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

The work of a desktop publisher is broad. Office materials, like letterheads, notices, posters and other printed forms of communication, are usually produced by those who have a good grasp of Word or InDesign. Communication with the public will include work in signage, billboards, magazine or newspaper ads, newsletters, and business cards. Online work might also be done with website ads, blog posts, mass emails, social media upkeep, or other similar areas.

The main job of a desktop publisher is to use graphics (often created by others) and text and put them into layouts for the use of the company. Most desktop publishers either work for a print company or work in a company that wants to create their own materials in-house.

Requirements and Education

A desktop publisher needs to have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. Choosing a major with computer-based skills is best. A broad understanding of QuarkXpress, InDesign, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, Flash and Photoshop are needed to properly complete tasks in this field. With the growing population of smartphones and computer-based users, digital and web courses will be very useful.

Traditionally, desktop publishers did a lot of work to produce these printed materials, but with today’s technology the tasks are much simpler. The past definition of desktop publisher has also changed with the current use of digital media over print.

Salary and Job Outlook

Average salary for a desktop publisher in 2011 was $36,610 with 22,600 jobs in the industry. The US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) actually reports an expected 15 percent decrease in the jobs available for desktop publisher between now and 2020. The current software enables other employees to produce materials needed, as well as a decrease in the amount of publications being produced.

Tips for Potential Desktop Publishers:

  • Stay up-to-date on what’s popular. Don’t let your job become extinct; rather than just taking the traditional courses to become a desktop publisher, consider web-based classes and digital material.
  • Learn design. Don’t think you will be able to get away without understanding design      elements–what will set you apart from other employees who are able to use the same programs? Throwing text and images onto a page is not design and will appear amateur. There are plenty of books, websites and tutorials that can help ( you with the design aspects.
  • Become educated. You may not be able to afford a B.A. in Graphic Design, but consider taking courses and working toward your associate’s degree.
  • Find inspiration. Look at printed materials and web ads…pay attention to business cards and newsletter layouts of other companies. The more you realize what is professional and what’s not, the more you will be able to help out a company looking to hire a desktop publisher.
  • Don’t be narrow-minded. Your experience and education may be perfect for a title like “Administrative Assistant,” or something similar. Don’t just look for a job asking for a desktop publisher, but realize you may be invaluable with your skills at a company looking for data entry and other office abilities.
  • Purchase your own software. The programs you will need should be available to you at all times. While they may be pricey, purchasing them in bundles and online may make them more affordable. Becoming familiar with the programs on your own time, and being free to work from home if needed, is important.


Recent Articles

View all articles

How to Become a Web DeveloperIf you are interested in websites and creatively producing online content, then a web developer ...
How to Become a Graphic DesignerGraphic designers are responsible for creating printed materials, advertisements, website designs ...
How to Become a Marketing ManagerWhen a business needs to price a product, understand the market, decide what direction to take ...