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Careers in Desktop Publishing: Exploring Job Opportunities for Publishers

written by: Joe Taylor Jr.•edited by: Daniel P. McGoldrick•updated: 7/24/2009

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, just over one third of desktop publishing professionals work in the publishing field. Established DTP professionals in any of these three fields can earn annual salaries of $45,000 or more.

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    Many media experts hold the opinion that desktop publishing revolutionized the workflow at daily newspapers more than just about any technology besides the Internet. In print rooms across the nation, newspaper publishing used to require dozens of specialized typesetters, layout artists, and composition experts. Since the advent of desktop publishing, many of those roles have been absorbed by a smaller team of DTP professionals. In fact, many community newspapers rely on just one or two desktop publishing specialists to manage an entire issue.

    Desktop publishing allows newspapers to invest more resources in journalism or marketing, while reducing the lead time of each edition. Although circulation for many daily newspapers has decreased as more readers find news online, desktop publishing innovations allow many newspapers to remain profitable. Because salaried desktop publishing jobs at newspapers tend to be highly competitive, aspiring DTP professionals must commit to training on the latest software while building solid newspaper portfolios.

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    Although the overall number of books sold each year has dwindled, the book publishing industry has used desktop publishing tools to create more books targeted for niche audiences. In the United States alone, nearly 300,000 new books compete for attention on bookstore shelves each year. In addition, each new title may require revised layouts for overseas markets, book club distribution, or transition to alternate formats. Factoring in the number of revised editions of older books creates a strong job prospect for book layout artists and other desktop publishing specialists.

    Desktop publishers working at any of the six major book publishing houses can expect to earn $32,000 or more per year. DTP professionals can enhance their earnings by learning how to create effective book covers. A book cover can influence buyers at major booksellers, who understand how a compelling cover can generate extreme interest for retail book buyers. As a result, desktop publishing professionals with a track record of creating successful covers and layouts can command higher salaries.

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    Although many Americans hop online or dial 411 on their cell phones to look up numbers for nearby businesses, the directory business in the United States still earns over $17 billion each year. Desktop publishing revolutionized the directory industry by making it less expensive for service providers to commission large format advertisements. Instead of requiring prospective customers to submit creative material through an agency, many Yellow Pages publishers hire out their in-house design teams to develop advertising material.

    Desktop publishing has created more jobs in the specialty directory field, as well. Libraries, schools, government agencies, and corporations all subscribe to highly specialized directories of contacts, professionals, real estate transactions, and legal proceedings. DTP professionals with an extreme eye for detail and a smart approach to organizing data can find jobs in this still-growing niche of the publishing industry.

Careers in Desktop Publishing

Though desktop publishing professionals tend to use similar tools, their jobs can involve a wide range of activities in a variety of fields. This six part series explores five of the most common industries employing DTP experts, along with tips for students who want to find desktop publishing jobs.
  1. Careers in Desktop Publishing: Exploring Job Opportunities for Publishers
  2. Careers in Desktop Publishing: Printing Jobs
  3. Careers in Desktop Publishing: Sign-Making Jobs
  4. Careers in Desktop Publishing: Web Developer Jobs
  5. Careers in Desktop Publishing: Freelance DTP Jobs
  6. Careers in Desktop Publishing: Getting Training