written by: Joe Taylor Jr.•edited by: Daniel P. McGoldrick•updated: 11/12/2010
Over the past five articles, we’ve profiled careers in desktop publishing that include everything from corporate jobs to freelance practices. All five of these career paths require the same core training.
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Beyond Basic Training
Training for careers in desktop publishing requires much more than just learning a set of software tools. Prospective DTP professionals must understand how to translate key principles of design into successful projects for clients and customers. The right core training can help newcomers to desktop publishing land their first gigs. And a dedication to ongoing professional development can mean the difference between a growing career and a dead end job.
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A rule of thumb in the desktop publishing field holds that most DTP workstations get an overhaul every three to five years. With Adobe’s acquisition of Macromedia bringing many of the most popular desktop publishing applications under one roof, the update cycle may even be speeding up. The releases of Adobe’s Creative Suite 3 and Creative Suite 4 marked the shortest update cycle in the company’s history.
While not every employer boasts a copy of the very latest DTP software, prospective employees should know how to operate common tools like Illustrator, QuarkXPress, and Corel Ventura. Broader familiarity with software can make job hunting easier, especially for professionals who understand how to operate advanced features.
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Some employers may want to hire a desktop publishing professional based on their ability to quickly ramp up projects. However, most hiring officers want to make sure that applicants also understand how to be versatile when responding to client requests. Therefore, a current portfolio should accompany any job application. Desktop publishing training programs offer students the ability to complete portfolio pieces in the context of credit-earning assignments. Although most employers prefer to see a published body of work, a solid portfolio of spec projects that displays strong skills can open doors to full time employment.
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Training for careers in desktop publishing involves more than just classroom learning. Top design schools and training centers offer career networks and alumni associations that can facilitate the personal connections necessary to kick-start a career. Many hiring officers prefer to hire alumni of specific schools that produce graduates with a consistent baseline skill level. Other hiring officers show preference toward their own schools, making internships and entry level jobs available to currently enrolled students. Selecting a school or a training center shows a commitment to learning, and it also offers entry into a tight-knit professional community.
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.