Desktop Publishers

Quick Facts: Desktop Publishers
2017 Median Pay $42,350 per year 
$20.36 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Associate's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Short-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2016 14,600
Job Outlook, 2016-26 -14% (Decline)
Employment Change, 2016-26 -2,000

Join Nextstep Career Mentorship Programs with our desktop publisher partners:

Desktop Publishers Career, Salary, and Education Information

What Desktop Publishers Do

Desktop publishers use computer software to design page layouts for newspapers, books, brochures, and other items that are printed or published online.


Desktop Publishers

Duties of desktop publishers

Desktop publishers typically do the following:

  • Review text, graphics, or other materials created by writers and designers

  • Edit graphics, such as photographs or illustrations

  • Import text and graphics into publishing software

  • Integrate images and text to create cohesive pages

  • Adjust text properties, such as size, column width, and spacing

  • Revise layouts and make corrections as necessary

  • Submit or upload final files for printing or online publishing

Desktop publishers use publishing software to create page layouts for print or electronic publication. They may edit text by correcting its spelling, punctuation, and grammar.

Desktop publishers often work with other design, media, or marketing workers, including writerseditors, and graphic designers. For example, they work with graphic designers to come up with images that complement the text and fit the available space.

Work Environment for Desktop Publishers

Desktop publishers held about 14,600 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of desktop publishers were as follows:

Newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers: 31%

Professional, scientific, and technical services: 14%

Printing and related support activities: 9%

Self-employed workers: 7%

Administrative and support services: 6%

Work Schedules

Many desktop publishers work full time, and they may need to work additional hours to meet publication deadlines.

How to Become a Desktop Publisher

Desktop publishers usually need an associate’s degree. They also receive short-term on-the-job training, lasting about 1 month.


Desktop publishers usually need an associate’s degree, often in graphic design or graphic communications. Community colleges and technical schools offer desktop-publishing courses, which teach students how to create electronic page layouts and format text and graphics with the use of desktop-publishing software.


Desktop publishers typically receive short-term on-the-job training lasting about 1 month. They learn by working closely with more experienced workers or by taking classes that teach them how to use desktop-publishing software. Workers often need to continue training because publishing software changes over time.

Important Qualities

Artistic ability. Desktop publishers must have a good eye for how graphics and text will look, so that they can create pages that are visually appealing and legible.

Communication skills. Desktop publishers must collaborate with others, such as writerseditors, and graphic designers, and communicate ideas effectively.

Detail oriented. Desktop publishers must pay attention to details such as margins, font sizes, and the overall appearance and accuracy of their work.

Organizational skills. Desktop publishers often work under strict deadlines and must be good at scheduling and prioritizing tasks in order to have documents ready in time for publication.

Other Experience

Many employers prefer to hire workers who have experience preparing layouts and using desktop-publishing software. Students may gain experience by working on a publication for a school or other organization.

salaries for Desktop publishers

The median annual wage for desktop publishers was $42,350 in May 2017. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $23,300, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $71,280.


In May 2017, the median annual wages for desktop publishers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Professional, scientific, and technical services: $48,490

Administrative and support services: $47,100

Printing and related support activities: $38,970

Newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers: $37,120

Many desktop publishers work full time, and they may need to work additional hours to meet publication deadlines.

Job Outlook for desktop publishers

Employment of desktop publishers is projected to decline 14 percent from 2016 to 2026.

Desktop publishing is commonly used to design printed materials, such as advertisements, brochures, newsletters, and forms. Companies are expected to hire fewer desktop publishers, however, as other types of workers—such as graphic designersweb designers, and editors—increasingly perform desktop-publishing tasks.

As organizations increasingly publish their materials electronically instead of printing them, employment of desktop publishers may decline further.

Employment projections data for Desktop Publishers, 2016-26

Employment, 2016: 14,600

Projected Employment, 2026: 12,500

Change, 2016-2026: -14%, -2,100

Careers Related to desktop publishers


Editors plan, review, and revise content for publication.

Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators

Film and video editors and camera operators manipulate moving images that entertain or inform an audience.

Graphic Designers

Graphic designers create visual concepts, using computer software or by hand, to communicate ideas that inspire, inform, and captivate consumers. They develop the overall layout and production design for various applications such as advertisements, brochures, magazines, and corporate reports.

Multimedia Artists and Animators

Multimedia artists and animators create animation and visual effects for television, movies, video games, and other forms of media.

Technical Writers

Technical writers, also called technical communicators, prepare instruction manuals, how-to guides, journal articles, and other supporting documents to communicate complex and technical information more easily. They also develop, gather, and disseminate technical information through an organization’s communications channels.

EditorsBachelor's degree$58,770
Film and Video Editors and Camera OperatorsBachelor's degree$58,210
Graphic DesignersBachelor's degree$48,700
Multimedia Artists and AnimatorsBachelor's degree$70,530
Technical WritersBachelor's degree$70,930


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Desktop Publishers,
on the Internet at