Desktop Publisher Job Requirements and Responsibilities

Desktop publisher laying out and designing a webpage and mobile web page on a tablet with sketches next to him
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Are you wondering what a desktop publisher does? Take a look at your favorite restaurant's menu, the brochure of that city on your bucket list of places to visit and that magazine on your coffee table (or on your e-reader). Whether you saw those items in print or online, it's likely a desktop publisher played a role in their creation.

A desktop publisher uses publishing software to produce them and also creates financial reports, business proposals, books, newspapers, newsletters, packaging, tickets, and business cards.

A desktop publisher formats and combines text, numerical data, photographs, illustrations, charts, and other visual elements.

Overview of Desktop Publisher Jobs 

  • In 2016, desktop publishers earned a median salary of $41,090 a year or $19.76 an hour.
  • Almost 15,000 people worked in this occupation as of 2016.
  • Most jobs are with newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers. Many desktop publishers also work in the professional, scientific, and technical services industry.
  • 7% of desktop publishers were self-employed.
  • Hours are typically full-time and overtime is often required to meet deadlines.
  • This occupation does not have a good job outlook for the foreseeable future. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects employment of desktop publishers to decline between 2016 and 2026. Blame it on an increase in online publication rather than print, as well as employers handing over their tasks to graphic designers.

    Job Responsibilities 

    These are some typical job duties taken from online ads for desktop publisher positions found on Indeed.com:

    • "Create and format placemats, flyers and newsletters/brochures using both company templates and custom designed PowerPoint layouts and Word templates to meet requirements"
    • "Import and format copy and graphics into existing design templates"
    • "Complete all document creation and modifications accurately and within the expected timelines"
    • "Design graphics for traditional and online advertising, social media, promotions, etc."
    • "Review own work carefully before submitting to editors"
    • "Troubleshoot and problem-solve document or file issues such as fonts, artwork or other depictions, graphs, tables, etc., and determine the best course of action"
    • "Utilize a variety of software programs to produce projects"

    Job Requirements

    You don't need a ​college degree to work as a desktop publisher—you will learn many of the skills you need on-the-job—but an associate degree or certificate will allow you to take advantage of the limited number of job opportunities there will be. Develop strong computer skills particularly with publishing programs. You should be proficient with all desktop publishing software such as InDesign, PageMaker, Illustrator, and Photoshop. Some employers prefer to hire job candidates who have a bachelor's degree in graphic design or graphic arts.

    Soft Skills Required of Desktop Publishers

    In addition to technical skills, you will need certain soft skills, or personal qualities, to succeed in this occupation.

    For example, you should have an artistic aptitude. You also need strong critical thinking skills in order to weigh the pros and cons of alternative solutions to problems. Active listening and good speaking skills will let you receive information from, and convey it to, colleagues and clients. You must also be detail-oriented, well organized, and have good time management skills.

    What Employers Will Expect From You

    Employers specified the following requirements in job announcements posted on Indeed.com:

    • "Must be highly organized, proactive, and collaborative"
    • "Ability to work with business sensitive information"
    • "Ability to adapt to deadlines and changing priorities"
    • "Customer service oriented with the ability to listen, understand and respond to customer wants and needs"
    • "Strong sense of ownership and follow through"

      Decide If This Occupation Is a Good Fit for You

      When choosing a career, consider your interestspersonality type, and work-related values. Individuals with these traits may find success as a desktop publisher:

      Occupations With Related Activities and Tasks

       DescriptionAnnual Salary (2016)Educational Requirements
      Word Processors and TypistTypes letters and other printed materials using a computer$38,740High school or equivalency diploma
      Secretary or Administrative AssistantPerforms clerical functions in an office such as filing, making appointments and writing correspondence$34,820Many employers prefer to hire job candidates who have an associate degree
      ProofreaderChecks transcripts for typographical, spelling and grammatical errors $36,960Bachelor's degree
      Graphic DesignerCommunicates messages using visual elements$47,640Bachelor's degree