Typesetter Jobs: Career and Salary Facts

Learn about the activities of modern-day typesetters, such as those who work in desktop publishing and graphic design. Find information about education programs, earnings and the future of the industry. Schools offering Visual Communication degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is a Typesetter?

When printed materials were first released, typesetters were responsible for cutting blocks of type out of wood or metal and arranging them onto plates to create printed broadsheets or books. Very few artisan booksellers today still work in this manner; most modern typesetters create type using digital technology. If you're interested in choosing and arranging type for a publication, you'll most likely assume the title of desktop publisher or graphic designer.

As a desktop publisher, your job will be to combine all text, materials, photographs and charts that go into a particular publication. You'll typically be responsible for choosing which fonts to use with each project. You'll design page layouts using digital technology which are then sent to pre-press operators at printing companies. Sometimes, you may need to adjust page layouts to meet the needs of clients.

As a graphic designer, you would also plan layouts for publications and may choose color schemes, fonts and positioning of images. You may also be hired to create original logos and illustrations used to help communicate messages. You would work with clients by sending proofs, reading critiques and making changes based on those critiques. You can learn some additional details about these careers below:

Desktop Publishers Graphic Designers
Degree Required Certificate Associate's or Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Desktop publishing Graphic Design, Graphic Arts
Key Responsibilities Edit graphics, import text, integrate images, revise layouts Work with clients to discuss designs, create logos and illustrations, use editing software, design layouts
Job Growth (2014-2024)* -21% 1%
Median Salary (2015)* $39,840 $46,900

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Educational Programs Are Available?

There are several educational pathways that may lead to a career as a desktop publisher. You might complete a certificate program in desktop publishing at a vocational school or community college. While enrolled in such a program, you'll typically study the basic components of the vocation, such as digital imaging, software applications, typography, color management and publication design.

You might consider completing an associate's or bachelor's degree in graphic arts, graphic design or graphic communication. Such programs will provide you with the technical skills necessary to use desktop publishing software for design and layout of a publication. Unlike certificate programs, most degree programs require completion of general education courses.

What Salary Can I Expect to Earn?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), desktop publishers held 13,240 jobs in 2015 (www.bls.gov). These professionals worked for periodical and newspaper publishing companies, printing companies and business support companies. The median annual salary for desktop publishers was $39,840 in 2015, as reported by the BLS. In that same year the BLS reported 204,850 graphic designers were employed and made a median salary of $46,900.

What Does the Future of the Career Look Like?

Typesetting is one career path that has been greatly altered by changes in modern technology. According to the BLS, the employment of desktop publishers is predicted to decrease by 21% between 2014 and 2024. As the software and technology used for desktop publishing and layout design improves, there will be a decrease in the need for professionals who specialize in the field. Graphic designers have a little better job outlook, though the BLS still predicts there to be little to no growth at one percent between 2014 and 2024.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Working with graphic designers, art directors make sure sure that layouts for publication are aesthetically pleasing. Often these professionals create the artwork used in both print and electronic publications, and sometimes they create the layouts of these publications themselves. Editors may also play a part in setting up the layouts for printed and electronic publications. However, editors' primary responsibility is to read over the content of the text, correct errors and rewrite sections to be easy to read. Art directors and editors typically must have a bachelor's degree in art and design or English and communications, respectively.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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