Desktop publishers and digital imaging designers create interactive and static media for print and online publications. Read on for more details about their creative duties, employment prospects, salaries and education before deciding if desktop publishing and digital imaging is a good fit for you.
Digital imaging design and desktop publishing involves the manipulation of digital images and the creation of designs to produce compelling and informative media. Digital imagers use sophisticated equipment and powerful software, such as Adobe Photoshop, to capture and manipulate photographs, graphic representations or other pictures. Desktop publishers also use design principles to layout websites, magazines, brochures and other content. The fields of digital imaging design and desktop publishing can lead to a variety of careers and serve as a productive outlet for students with natural artistic instincts.
As a desktop publisher or digital imaging specialist, you may pursue a position as a graphic or publication designer. Once you've acquired some experience, you may also qualify for a job as an art director or production supervisor.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), desktop publishers earned an average annual salary of $41,130 in May 2013. Employment of desktop publishers is expected to decline by 5% between 2012 and 2022. During the same decade, opportunities for graphic designers are projected to grow by a slower-than-average rate of 7% nationwide. As of May 2013, graphic designers made an average annual salary of $49,610. As noted by the BLS, versatile graphic designers with experience in both print and website design and animation experience may enjoy the best job opportunities (www.bls.gov).
Some employers of desktop publishers may provide on-the-job training. However, a degree in graphic design, graphic arts or visual communication may provide opportunities for advancement, especially in digital imaging design. Undergraduate programs may lead to a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA). Two-year programs that culminate in an associate's degree in visual communication typically include courses in computer design, color theory and typography. Lower- and upper-level coursework might also include training in 2-D and 3-D design, art history and advertising for art directors. Design labs may be required; you might also study illustration techniques, symbols and packaging styles.
Familiarity with desktop publishing or graphic design software is essential to entering the field. Some examples of desktop publishing software include Adobe Photoshop and InDesign, Fireworks and Flash. You should also have a working knowledge of Apple and Windows-based computers. Some manufacturers offer certifications and training in the use of their software.
In addition to artistic ability and creativity, you should also be able to communicate effectively and translate customer requests into a finished product. In some positions, you may be required to write content, so the ability to produce compelling copy may be essential.