Desktop Publishers picture    Desktop Publishers image

Desktop Publishers

Desktop publishers create publications by utilizing specialized software to put together images, photos, text, charts, numerical data, graphics and other elements. They design page layouts, develop presentations and advertising campaigns. Those in desktop publishing produce newsletters, books, magazines, newspapers, calendars, business cards and other items. Some desktop publishers may write and edit as well as design and develop pages.

Some sample job titles are electronic publishers, publications specialist, desktop publishing editor, DTP operator, web publications designer, electronic publishing specialist and electronic pre-press technician.

A desktop publisher utilizes a keyboard to select and enter formatting specifics such as column width and size, and style of type and stores them in a computer. The computer will then arrange and display columns of type on a computer monitor or video display terminal. An entire publication can be produced on the screen exactly as it will appear in print.

Personal computers allow desktop publishers to perform publishing procedures that in the past required a lot of effort and complex equipment. Those in desktop publishing utilize electronic page layout systems, digital color page makeup systems and off-press color proofing systems. In addition, they create special effects and other visual images using video, film, computers and other types of electronic media.

Since a lot of materials are published on the Internet, a desktop publisher may need a strong foundation in electronic publishing technologies such as Hypertext Markup Language (HTML). They may be required to convert graphics and text to an Internet-ready format.


  • Translate electronic information onto film and other forms
  • Create graphics that accompany text
  • Determine work to be performed and sequence of operations
  • Covert drawings and photographs into digital images
  • Typeset and perform color separation
  • Utilize scanners to capture art, photographs and images as digital data
  • Work with graphic artists, writers and editors to produce master copies according to design specifications
  • Write and edit text
  • Use digital files to produce printing plates
  • Check preliminary and final proofs for errors and make appropriate changes

Job Characteristics

Desktop publishers typically work 8 hours a day, five days a week. They often have short deadlines. They should be skilled with computers and be good at typing. A desktop publisher should be detailed oriented, have good communication skills and be creative. Useful assets include good depth perception, visual acuity, and the ability to focus quickly.

Employment Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 1 percent job growth for desktop publishers from 2006 to 2016. Sophisticated desktop publishing software and increased computer processing capacity allows non-printing professionals to perform desktop publishing tasks which should slow the growth of desktop publishing jobs. However, companies that create large reports and need high quality publications may continue to use desktop publishers to layout publications for offset printing.

In 2006 the median annual earnings for desktop publishers was $34,130. The highest 10 percent earned more than $55,040.

Desktop publishers can advance in their careers by demonstrating a mastery of skills. Some desktop publishers move up to supervisor and management positions. Some desktop publishers start their own businesses or become independent consultants. Those with a high level of artistic talent and further education may find jobs in graphic design or commercial art.

Education, Certification, and Licensing

Most desktop publishers acquire their knowledge and skills by taking courses or taking a certificate program provided online or at learning centers. Some in desktop publishing learn their skills on-the-job.

Typically, there are no educational requirements for desktop publishers. However, an associate or bachelor's degree in graphic arts, graphic design or graphic communications is beneficial. Graphic arts programs provide a thorough review of desktop publishing software. Regarding job candidates with little or no experience, those that have a degree or certificates in desktop publishing, and have a computer background, should have the best employment opportunities.


Major Employers

The top employment sectors are newspapers, books, periodicals, directory publishers, printing and related support; and professional, scientific and technical services.

Schools for Desktop Publishers are listed in the Browse Schools Section.

Desktop Publishers Skills

Below are the skills needed to be desktop publishers according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

Skill NameImportanceCompetence
Critical Thinking3.883.75
Reading Comprehension3.754.12
Active Listening3.53.62
Judgment and Decision Making3.53.38

Desktop Publishers Abilities

Below are the abilities needed to be desktop publishers according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

Ability NameImportanceCompetence
Near Vision4.384.25
Information Ordering43.75
Category Flexibility3.753.62
Fluency of Ideas3.753.75

Desktop Publishers Knowledge

Below are the knowledge areas needed to be desktop publishers according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

Knowledge AreaImportanceCompetence
Computers and Electronics4.274.8
English Language3.994.2
Production and Processing3.694.59
Communications and Media3.293.72

Desktop Publishers Work activities

Below are the work activities involved in being desktop publishers according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest).

Work ActivityImportanceCompetence
Interacting With Computers4.923.89
Getting Information4.693.89
Thinking Creatively4.584.07
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates4.313.65
Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge4.314.72

Desktop Publishers Work styles

Below are the work styles involved in being desktop publishers according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest).

Work StyleImportance
Attention to Detail4.88

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for
Desktop Publishers

Listed below are the 10 largest metro areas based on the total number of people employed in Desktop Publishers jobs , as of 2017

Metro AreaTotal EmploymentAnnual Mean Salary
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim660 $54,890
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington410 $46,390
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward350 $47,940
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land340 $43,850
Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson290 $33,730
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell250 $53,190
Baltimore-Columbia-Towson190 $51,800
Lancaster130 $35,770
San Diego-Carlsbad130 $47,150
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn120 $40,600

Compare Total Employment & Salaries for Desktop Publishers

Use our handy tool to see what employment and salary numbers look like for two different metro areas

Select State
Select Metro Area 1
Select Metro Area 2
Please select State, Metro Area 1 and Metro Area 2
Select different Metro Areas

Total employment and salary for professions similar to desktop publishers

Source : 2017 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2016-26 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov; O*NET® 23.1 Database, O*NET OnLine, National Center for O*NET Development, Employment & Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, onetonline.org

Click the Visit School Site buttons to go directly to a school's website and learn more about the school and programs it has to offer. School website will open in a new tab.
Click the Request Info buttons to request more information from a representative at the school.

We have some additional detailed pages at the state level for Desktop Publishers.

Numbers in parentheses are counts of relevant campus-based schools in the state; online schools may also be available.