Where the DTP Jobs Are In 2009

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Publishing House Changes Underscore Challenging Year

For veterans of the publishing industry, December 2008 will go down in history as one of the worst months in the book business. Venerable imprints vanished overnight as conglomerates consolidated their holdings. Respected editors found pink slips on their desks instead of manuscripts. Reorganization at many of the largest employers of DTP professionals means fewer projects to work on in 2009.

Desktop publishing professionals face other kinds of challenges, in light of new government statistics. New software packages that allow users to create sophisticated layouts have reduced the overall number of DTP jobs and projects in the United States. Online job boards send many desktop publishing projects to low-cost, overseas providers. And dwindling demand for printed material at many businesses has curtailed the need for as many catalog and advertising layouts.

With this bleak scenario, does it make sense to pursue desktop publishing jobs in 2009? For many professionals, the answer remains, “yes.”

Three Success Factors for Finding DTP Jobs

First, desktop publishing tools are only as good as their operators. Desktop publishing professionals who can show off sophisticated portfolios can illustrate the value they add, especially to corporate purchasers. Prospective professionals must up the ante by committing to professional training and ongoing development. Only by elevating the craft of desktop publishing can DTP professionals hope to justify existing jobs while creating demand for new DTP jobs.

Second, desktop publishing careers reward professionals who can market themselves effectively while maintaining strong personal relationships. Most job referrals happen within a personal network long before a want ad hits the papers or the web. Building a combination of professional and personal connections to community business leaders can lead to early alerts of upcoming jobs and bids. Small business owners that have previously handled desktop publishing tasks in-house will increasingly look for help from highly skilled professionals as they focus their resources on running their companies. Even during recessions, doctors, attorneys, real estate companies, and insurance providers all continue to thrive with help from desktop publishing professionals.

Finally, desktop publishing professionals thrive when they understand the mobile and global nature of the business. The latest versions of Adobe Creative Suite, QuarkXPress, and other DTP tools run effectively on affordable notebook computers. Although many successful DTP professionals scour their hometowns for referral work, many projects now come from online connections. Living in a town with a low cost of living can help beginning desktop publishing professionals compete more effectively for entry-level jobs by offering quality service at lower rates than big city dwellers.

According to government data, many desktop publishers working full-time can expect to earn between $26,000 and $44,000 in 2009. By banking on personal relationships, outstanding results, and strong negotiation skills, desktop publishing professionals can prepare to ride out the current recession.