Approximately 12,600 desktop publishing specialists are employed in the United States. They work for individuals and small business owners, such as publishing houses, advertising agencies, graphic design agencies, and printing shops. Some large companies also contract with desktop publishing services rather than hire full-time designers. Government agencies such as the U.S. Government Publishing Office hire desktop publishing specialists to help produce the large number of documents they publish.
Desktop publishing specialists deal directly with their clients, but in some cases they may be subcontracting work from printers, designers, and other desktop publishing specialists. They may also work as consultants, working with printing professionals to help solve particular design problems.
To start your own business, you must have a great deal of experience with design and page layout, and a careful understanding of the design programs you'll be using. Before striking out on your own, you may want to gain experience as a full-time staff member of a large business. Most desktop publishing specialists enter the field through the production side, or the editorial side of the industry. Those with training as a designer or artist can easily master the finer techniques of production. Printing houses and design agencies are places to check for production artist opportunities. Publishing companies often hire desktop publishing specialists to work in-house or as freelance employees. Working within the industry, you can make connections and build up a clientele.
You can also start out by investing in computer hardware and software, and volunteering your services. By designing logos, letterhead, and restaurant menus, for example, your work will gain quick recognition, and word of your services will spread.
Desktop publishing specialists in staff positions may advance as they take on bigger projects, move into management positions, or switch employers to obtain higher paying positions. Those who own their business may advance by growing it by taking on more projects or by expanding into Web design and page layout for Internet-based publications and companies.
Experiment with your computer, or a computer at school or the library, using various graphic design and page layout programs to get a sense as to whether desktop publishing is for you.
Take advantage of any free Web space available to you through your Internet service provider to design your own Web site.
Join your school's computer club or work on its newspaper and yearbook to get experience with desktop publishing.
Volunteer to produce newsletters and flyers for school or community clubs. Volunteering is an excellent way to try new software and techniques as well as gain experience troubleshooting and creating final products.
Look for part-time or summer employment with printing shops and companies that have in-house publishing or printing departments to gain experience and make valuable contacts.