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Desktop Publishing Careers, Jobs and Employment Information

Desktop Publishing Careers, Jobs and Employment Information

Utilizing computer programs, desktop publishers must format and combine text, numerical data, photographs, charts, and other visual graphic elements in order to create publication-ready material. According to the project, desktop publishers may write and edit material, produce graphics to join the text, turn photographs and drawings into digital images and then touch up those images, create page layouts, make proposals, design presentations and advertising campaigns, typeset and do color separation, and transfer electronic info onto film or other traditional forms. Desktop publishers create a variety of materials, including books, business cards, calendars, magazines, newsletters and newspapers, packaging, slides, and tickets. Many businesses have restructured to make the production of marketing, promotional, and other kinds of materials an in-house operation, and thus they are employing more workers who can carry out such functions.

Desktop publishers utilize a keyboard input and choose formatting properties like the size and style of type, column width, and spacing, and save them in the computer, which then feeds the use a visual display of the arranged columns through a monitor. A whole newspaper, catalog, or book page, including artwork and graphics, can be replicated on screen just as it will be printed in the actual piece. Operators transfer the pages for production, by putting them on film and then onto printing plates, or by transferring them straight onto plates.

Desktop publishing is an ever evolving area that includes a variety of different jobs. Personal computers allow desktop publishers to carry out many publishing duties that in the past would necessitate the use of complex equipment and great human effort. Improvements in computer software and printing technology are constantly changing and improving desktop-publishing work. Rather than getting typed text from customers, desktop publishers often receive the text and accompanying images on a disk or via the internet. Additional advancements in technology within this industry include digital color page-makeup systems, electronic page-layout systems, and off-press color-proofing systems. Additionally, since a many of the products today must be published on the internet, workers might have to understand electronic-publishing procedures as they might be assigned the task of making the material ready for internet publishing as well.

Typesetting and page layout have also been changed by technological enhancements to desktop publishing. More and more desktop publishers are employing computers to perform typesetting and page-layout work that was performed by prepress workers in the past. This has presented new problems for the printing industry. The traditional “hot type” procedure for text composition, whereby characters are created using molten lead, is close to dead. Now most of the composition work is done on computers. Enhancements in desktop-publishing programs have also enabled more customers to perform their own typesetting work.
Desktop publishers utilize scanners to convert photographs, images, or art into digital format which can then be touched up or placed directly into the material being worked on. Then the desktop publisher is able to fix mistakes or touch up deficiencies existing in the original color print or transparency. Printing plates are then made from the digital files. Similar to photographers and multimedia artists and animators, desktop publishers have the capability of designing and producing special effects or other visual images, by utilizing film, video, computers, and other electronic media.

Desktop publishers, dependant on where they work, might also be called publications specialists, electronic publishers, DTP operators, desktop-publishing editors, electronic prepress technicians, electronic-publishing specialists, image designers, typographers, compositors, layout artists, or web publications designers.

Desktop Publishing Training and Job Qualifications

The majority of workers become qualified for desktop publishing positions by enrolling in classes or certification programs offered by vocational schools, universities, and colleges or on internet. Programs vary in time, but on average programs last about a year, although a few workers might receive their training on the job. How much training an employee receives on the job differs with each company. Others might obtain desktop publishing experience by doing an internship or working part time.

Those desirous of pursuing such a career can seek an associate’s degree in applied science or a bachelor’s degree in graphic arts, graphic communications, or graphic design. Graphic arts programs provide a great way to learn how to use desktop publishing software which is utilized in formatting pages, assigning type characteristics, and importing text and graphics into electronic page layouts in order to create printed pieces like advertisements, brochures, newsletters, and forms. Applying such understanding of graphic arts methods and computerized typesetting is typically intended for those looking to work in management positions, while those looking to become skilled employees in desktop-publishing are better suited to seek a two year associate’s degree. Additional skills such involving typography, print media, packaging, branding and identity, Web-site design, and motion graphics will be developed through such programs. The programs also help students learn print and graphic design fundamentals and as well as offer them additional instruction in imaging, prepress operations, print reproduction, and emerging media. Classes focused on various other areas of printing are also offered by vocational-technical institutes, industry-sponsored update and retraining programs, as well as private trade and technical schools.

Though formal training is necessarily a requirement, applicants with certification or college degrees have the best prospects. Typically companies seek those employees that at least are high school graduates and have good communication skills, are hard workers, and are skilled with computers. Those working in small shops should be courteous as they may be required to take orders directly form customers. Other job requirements might include adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing, and computing rations in order to make job expense estimates. Those hoping to work for companies which used sophisticated printing technology should understand the fundamentals of electronics and computers.

Desktop publishers must have good hands, pay attention to detail, and able to work alone. Good vision, especially visual acuity, depth perception, a wide field of view, color vision, and the ability to focus quickly are also very helpful. Another asset is artistic ability. Companies also look for applicants that are calm, cool, and collected as well as flexible since many projects have accompanying deadlines and employees have to learn how to run new devices.
Those with little experience might begin as assistants. An experience desktop publisher will teach them the tricks of the trade in the beginning and they will advance to higher levels as they master the required skills. Periodically workers will have to receive additional training as enhancements and changes are made to programs and equipment. As worker progress they are given more responsibilities. Some might be promoted to supervisor or manager. Still others may decide to start their own business or serve as independent consultants. Those with above average artistic skills and additional education may be hired in graphic design or commercial art capacities.

Desktop Publishing Job and Employment Opportunities

Employment of desktop publishers is projected to rise more rapidly than the overall average through 2012, as more computers and complex publishing programs will be utilized to do page layout and design within the company. A lot of the prepress work that has traditionally been done by compositors and typesetters is now being done through desktop publishing, allowing companies to minimize expenses and improve production rates. It is expected that a lot of new positions will be created for desktop publishers in commercial printing and publishing firms. With the progression of a computer’s capability, such as working with complex test and graphics, and the increasingly relatively cheap desktop publishing software being introduced, companies are relying more and more on their own employees to work as desktop publishers. Besides the growth in employment, there will a lot of jobs available as a result of employees taking managerial jobs, leaving the work force, or moving to a new occupation.

Printing and publishing expenses are representative of a large part of a company’s costs, and corporations are realizing it is cheaper to produce their own newsletters and reports rather than hire out for these jobs. An advantage of desktop publishing is that is decreases the amount of time required to finish a job and enables commercial printers to be able to move into markets that are looking for jobs to be done very quickly.

Employees favor workers who have experience as desktop publishers. As the pool of experienced desktop publishers increases, the fight to obtain these jobs will become more competitive. For those with no experience, the best prospects will be available to those who are fundamentally sound with computers and are certified or for those who have received higher education focused on desktop publishing or graphic design. Several companies favor graduates of such programs since the thorough training they obtain enable them to quickly learn page-layout processes and be more adaptable to new software and techniques.

Historical Earnings Information

Wages and salaries for desktop publishers differ depending on amount of experience, training, location, and size of the company. In 2002, the average annual earnings of desktop publishers were $31,620. The middle 50 percent made anywhere from $24,030 to $41,280. The bottom 10 percent made less than $18,670, and the top 10 percent made upwards of $52,540 a year.