Desktop Publisher

Desktop Publisher
Elena Elisseeva/123RF

Job Description

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. He or she used publishing software to produce them and also is responsible for creating other materials like 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 graphic elements.

Employment Facts

There were about 16,000 people employed as desktop publishers in 2012. Most work in the publishing and printing industries. Others have jobs in in-house printing departments of advertising and public relations firms. Hours are typically full-time and overtime is often required to meet deadlines.

Educational Requirements

You don't need a college degree to work as a desktop publisher—you will learn many skills on-the-job—but an associate degree or certificate will allow you to take advantage of the best job opportunities. Make sure to 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 those who have a bachelor's degree in graphic design or graphic arts.

Why Do You Need to Know About Educational Requirements?

Other Requirements

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

Advancement Opportunities

Workers with limited training and experience may start as helpers receiving instruction from experienced desktop publishers. As one masters more skills, keeps up with new software and gains experience, he or she can advance to positions with greater responsibility. This can include supervisory or management positions. Some desktop publishers may start their own companies. Those who are more artistic and who have furthered their education may find opportunities in graphic design or commercial art.

Why Do You Need to Know About Advancement?

Job Outlook

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts an employment decline in this occupation through 2022. A college degree or experience will increase your chances of finding a job.

Why Do You Need to Know About Job Outlook?


Desktop publishers earned a median annual salary of $38,200 and median hourly earnings of $18.37 in 2014 (US).

Use the Salary Wizard at to find out how much desktop publishers currently earn in your city.

A Day in a Desktop Publisher's Life

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

  • 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 best course of action.
  • Utilize a variety of software programs to produce projects.

    Occupations With Related Activities and Tasks

     DescriptionAnnual Salary (2014)Educational Requirements
    Word Processors and TypistTypes letters and other printed materials using a computer$36,700High school or equivalency diploma
    Secretary or Administrative AssistantPerforms clerical functions in an office such as filing, making appointments and writing correspondence$33,240Many employers prefer to hire job candidates who have an associate degree
    ProofreaderChecks transcripts for typographical, spelling and grammatical errors $34,980Bachelor's degree

    Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Desktop Publishers
    Employment and Training Administration, US Department of Labor, O*NET Online, Desktop Publishers

    Should You Become a Desktop Publisher? Take a Quiz to Find Out.