Desktop Publishing Salary

Desktop publishers use computer software to create appealing hard copy materials by combining a variety of elements, such as text, graphics and photos. Desktop publishers create a variety of materials, including books, magazines, newspapers, newsletters, forms and marketing materials.

Salary Overview

Salaries for desktop publishers vary, depending on experience, company size and location. Those with the most training and experience earn more, as do those who work in larger cities or for major companies. The average salary is $36,660, with the highest earners making nearly $60,000 per year. Most desktop publishers work in the newspaper and publishing industries, and they also have the lowest average salaries, at $35,730 annually. Those in the electronic markets and legal fields earn the most, averaging between $57,000 and $58,000 per year.*

*According to the BLS,

Job Description and Outlook

Desktop publishers format text, photos, illustrations, graphs, charts and other graphics into electronic pages to be printed. Using desktop publishing software, an entire book page, newspaper or catalog can be created and shown on the computer screen. Software is used to create logos and graphics and edit digital images. Text size, color, font and spacing is created. Graphics can be enlarged or cropped. Once all the components are created, they manipulate them to create eye-catching, colorful materials. Then, once the document is complete, it is prepared for print. The document is then printed, either in-house on a high-resolution printer or at a commercial printer.

Some graphic designers develop advertising campaigns and presentation. Depending on the company size, some may even write or edit copy or create headlines for newsletters or brochures. In larger companies, there may be several desktop publishers who each work on a specific type of publication.

Desktop publishers are mostly found in the printing industry. However, many types of companies hire desktop publishers, including medical, legal, securities, electronics, business support and information services. Others may have their own business and do freelance work for local businesses, such as schools, restaurants and real estate companies.

Jobs for desktop publishers are expected to decrease, as many workers are now learning desktop publishing functions as part of their job to cut costs. Also, many companies are turning to the Internet and creating web content instead of hard copy materials. Some jobs will be available to replace experienced professionals leaving the work force. There will be a lot of competition for these jobs, so the more training and experience one has, the better.*

*According to the BLS,

Training and Education Requirements

Many employers do not require college education for desktop publishers. Many learn from taking classes online or on-the-job training. Some are self-taught and learned desktop publishing just by using the software and learning the different functions. However, for those looking at desktop publishing for a career, a degree in graphic communications, art or design will be valuable. Many colleges have graphic arts courses or programs, which are good ways to learn how to create and format pages, format and manipulate text and add text and graphics into page layouts.

Besides training and education, most employers look for specific personal qualities, such as good computer, communication and math skills. Desktop publishers may need to interact with staff and clients. They may also need to perform math operations, such as calculating job estimates and ratios. They need to be detail-oriented and have good eyesight, including color vision and depth perception. They should be able to prioritize, work well under pressure and be willing to learn new things. It is also preferred that desktop publishers are knowledgeable of the printing process and can operate printers, computers and scanners effectively. Creativity and artistic ability are a plus. Due to advances in technology, many documents are now published online, so it is beneficial for desktop publishers to learn HTML and be familiar with web processes.


Adobe offers the Adobe Certified Expert (ACE) certification for desktop publishers who want to demonstrate their expertise in a single Adobe product or a variety of them. Certification is available for Acrobat, Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign, PageMaker, FrameMaker, LiveMotion, GoLive, After Effects and Premiere. There is also a Desktop Publishing Awareness Certification that tests important skills, terminology and concepts related to desktop publishing. Both certifications are taken online and consist of multiple-choice questions.

Professional Associations

Desktop publishers who work for newspapers can join the Newspaper Industry of America (NAA), which represents almost 2,000 newspapers in the United States and Canada. The NAA, founded in 1992, strives to increase industry awareness and growth and seek ways to share ideas and information with other members.

The Society of Publication Designers (SPD), formed in 1965, strives to promote excellence in the editorial design field. The SPD is the sole organization that addresses the visual concerns of editorial professionals, both print and online. Members are offered educational and scholarship opportunities, along with events, competitions and publications. Members also receive discounts on events and Adobe software and training.

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