How to Become a Desktop Publisher

Desktop Publisher Key Stats
Avg. Salary / year $27,880
Avg. Pay / hour $13.40
Education 2-4 Years
Job Outlook -14.4%

Desktop Publishers use their creativity and skills in order to design and develop a variety of print materials and publications.

They help make it possible to people to read their favorite magazines, newspapers and books.

If you are considering a career as a Desktop Publisher, read the following information to learn about the education requirements, a general job description, salary wage and salary information and the future job outlook for this field.

Education Requirements to Become a Desktop Publisher

There are no set education requirements in order to become a Desktop Publisher .

The majority of these professionals learn their desktop publishing skills on the job.

Some Desktop Publishers began their career by testing out publishing software and creating designs and layouts this way.

Job opportunities are better for candidates with formal education or certification.

However, students can learn how to become a Desktop Publisher by seeking a formal education.

These students can major in graphic design, graphic arts or graphics communications.

These degrees can be offered at the Associate’s or Bachelor’s level.

Students can earn these types of degrees at colleges, vocational or technical schools.

In addition, some local learning centers offer this type of software training.

Graphic arts, design or communication programs teach some valuable skills candidates need in order to become a Desktop Publisher.

During this type of program, students can learn how to design a page layout, layout print, format the pages and upload graphic images onto the layout.

Candidates who go into this career without an educational background may have to assist more experienced professionals while they learn the ropes to this career.

During this time, candidates should learn how to use basic software and desktop publishing techniques.

Desktop Publisher Job Description

Desktop Publishers are responsible for designing and creating a variety of print material and publications.

The following is a list of publications and print materials Desktop Publishers are responsible for designing and creating:

  • Books
  • Magazines
  • Newspapers
  • Newsletters
  • Books
  • Calendars
  • Brochures
  • Forms

Desktop Publishers may also design and create publications for advertisement campaigns and presentations.

A Desktop Publisher will begin their task by using a variety of computer software to design and create page layouts for publications.

They will use the software to combine text, images, drawings, headlines, titles and pictures in a presentable way.

Desktop Publishers will use software applications to design and format charts, pictures, text, data, artwork and illustrations onto pages that will then be printed.

Desktop Publishers will use their formatting skills to move around images and text until the page layout is readable and catches a reader’s attention.

Desktop Publishers will use formatting techniques to make sure the text size, column width and spacing are appropriate.

In addition, a Desktop Publisher can use multimedia to create special effects or visual images by using photographs, film or video.

These professionals will save all this information on a file which will then be used to create printing plates.

Because of advancements in technology, some Desktop Publishers may also be required to have an extensive knowledge regarding HTML coding, publishing software and adapting visuals and texts for uploading on the internet.

Desktop Publisher Salary and Career Path

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median wage for Desktop Publishers in 2008 was approximately $36,600 per year.

The salary range for these professionals during the same year was approximately $21,860 to $59,200 per year.

The job outlook for this profession looks bleak.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this profession is expected to lose approximately 23% of job openings through the year 2018.

The reason behind this rapid decline is due to the fact that desktop publishing has become easily accessible, more affordable and easy to use.

This accessibility has made it easier for professionals not experienced with printing to learn it as an additional trait.

Employers will look for candidates who have experience as a Desktop Publisher.

Experienced professionals have the necessary skills and have had many years working to become good at this profession.

Applicants who don’t have experience can rely on their computer background, a desktop publishing certification or a degree in Graphic Design, Desktop Publishing or Web Design.

BLSThe below information is based on the 2021 BLS national averages.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary


Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
District of Columbia$82,360
New Jersey- NA -
New York$67,780
North Carolina$28,930
South Carolina- NA -
West Virginia$32,850

The top earning state in the field is District of Columbia, where the average salary is $82,360.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

District of Columbia - $82,360
Tennessee - $69,340
New York - $67,780
Massachusetts - $65,950
Illinois - $62,830
* Salary information based on the May 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Desktop Publishers, OCC Code 43-9031, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a desktop publisher do?

In a nutshell, desktop publishers use publishing software to design and create page layouts; those can be for books, newspapers, brochures…anything that is electronically published or physically printed.

The typical responsibilities of a desktop publisher include positioning text and artwork on the layout; gathering all the material to create the layouts; editing graphics; working with designers and writers; importing text and graphics; turning the materials into digital images; converting files; selecting text size, column width, and so on.

The chances are high that in case you decide to become a desktop publisher, you will be working in one of the four main industries – periodical, newspaper, book, and directory publishers; administrative and support services; professional, technical, and scientific services; printing and related support activities.

How much do desktop publishers make?

On average, desktop publishers earn a little less than $43.000 per year in the United States.

The bottom 20% makes nearly $23.000, while the top 20% earn over $75.000.

In case you are just getting started, you can expect to earn around $11 per hour; top-level professionals with plenty of experience can make $36 and more per hour.

The salary would certainly depend on your experience, the employer, and on your level of education.

The average salary in Connecticut, California, and Massachusetts is generally higher than in the other states.

How much does it cost to become a desktop publisher?

Generally, a desktop publisher has to have either an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree in graphic design, graphic communications, graphic arts or anything related to the industry.

An online associate’s degree in graphic design, for example, will cost you around $5.000-$16.000 in total; a bachelor’s degree program can cost you anywhere between $11.000 and $60.000 per year.

Desktop publishers should certainly have an impeccable knowledge of desktop publishing software.

There are plenty of courses available online and offline and for any budget.

What is the demand for desktop publishers?

Between 2016 and 2026, the desktop publisher job market is expected to shrink by 14.4% in the United States.

The whole process of creating various layouts is becoming easier and easier; in the near future, people will be able to do that without a special degree and without having to hire professionals.

Bear in mind that the desktop publisher job market, at the moment, is concentrated in Texas, Pennsylvania, and California.

How long does it take to become a desktop publisher?

In case you decide to go for an associate’s degree, you would need 2 years to earn one.

A bachelor’s degree will take you 4 years to obtain.

You can certainly become a desktop publisher without a degree; however, a specific education will help you find a better job.

Experience in the field is extremely important; you might want to seek an internship during your last years in university.

You can acquire knowledge of desktop publishing software through various courses; some last for a few weeks, while others will take you a couple of months or semesters to complete.

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

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