How Do I Become a DTP Operator?

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  • Written By: Angela Farrer
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 14 September 2019
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You can become a desktop publishing (DTP) operator by completing a college degree program in computer graphic design, electronic media, or digital art. Completing certifications in industry-standard software operation is also strongly encouraged. Proficiency in various computer applications is required to become a DTP operator because this career entails creating a range of creative electronic documents. DTP operators use images, graphics, and text to create media such as advertising banners, business cards, and slide show presentations. Due to the ever-evolving nature of technology, successful DTP operators also invest in continuing education to stay competitive in this dynamic career field.

Many entry-level desktop publishing jobs require a two-year degree for you to become a DTP operator. Most vocational schools and community colleges offer programs that will teach you the needed computer skills. A good quality degree program will include courses in typography, design elements, color theory, and the use of software to create graphics from scratch. You may also have a range of elective courses in image manipulation software, basic photography, and web design. Many recent graduates recommend taking a diverse range of relevant courses to help you become a DTP operator soon after degree completion.


Software certifications are generally big advantages in your plans to become a DTP operator. Many hiring managers filter applicants' resumes based on listed certifications, and candidates without them are often less likely to be hired for desktop publishing jobs. Successfully completing a certification exam in an illustration software program, a page creation program, and an image editing program will show potential employers that you have a good working knowledge of these types of software packages. Certification indicates that you are able to easily apply this knowledge to various projects and assignments.

Learning how to work with office software is an additional part of your training to become a DTP operator. Successful DTP operators are able to create charts and presentations that sometimes showcase large amounts of detailed data. Skilled desktop publishers can render clear and engaging graphics for this information. Courses and tutorials in the requisite presentation and data management software can often be quite helpful for your career as a DTP artist.

Some new DTP operators find their first jobs after completing a two-year degree, while others choose to earn a bachelor's degree in graphic arts or a related field. With either option, creating a strong portfolio of your work is usually recommended while you are still taking courses. This showcase of your work is often as important as a good resume for landing both jobs and internships in desktop publishing.


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