Learn to Be a Typesetter: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn how to become a typesetter. Explore the education requirements and training experiences that can help you start and advance a career in typesetting.

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Should I Become a Typesetter?

Typesetting is the process of setting type to form text in printed materials as well as digitally formatted content. The typesetting process involves multiple steps that include working with textual content from start to finish in preparation for publication. Typesetters closely examine content, edit and proof for errors, and check for consistency in type styles, size and layout. In order to meet production demands, weekend or holiday work hours might be required.

Typesetting is often a component of traditional printing or desktop publishing in digital format. Prepress technicians and desktop publishers can earn the necessary skills and knowledge for positions in these fields through various types of training programs, ranging from postsecondary courses to a bachelor's degree.

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Career Requirements

Degree Level Certificate, associate's degree or bachelor's degree
Degree Field Desktop publishing, graphic design
Experience Apprenticeships or 1-2 years entry level work for advanced positions
Key Skills Artistic ability, visualization, attention to detail, problem solving, critical thinking, communication skills, organizational skills, and technical skill with desktop publishing software, graphics software, photo imaging software, optical character reader (OCR) or scanning software
Salary $29,500 is the annual median salary for print workers

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, O NET Online.

Step 1: Complete Educational Requirements

The advent of digital technology has changed the education and training necessary to become a typesetter. Because typesetters deal with type and text, students should pursue coursework in desktop publishing, which is the primary method of typesetting in modern print shops or publishing companies.

Certificate or associate's degree programs in digital or desktop publishing are available at community colleges as well as technical schools. The BLS notes that some desktop publishers pursue a bachelor's degree program in the area of graphic design, graphic arts or graphic communication. Coursework in such programs provides students with the training necessary to develop skills in layout and design, graphics and typesetting, using advanced digital technology and software programs.

Step 2: Complete an Internship or Apprenticeship

Most pre-press shops and publishing companies use specialized equipment and have specific systems and processes for the creation of printed material. Obtaining an internship allows typesetters to apprentice in real-world print environments, which can better prepare them for their careers and make them more marketable as job applicants.

Step 2: Apply for an Entry-Level Position

Typesetters typically work at pre-press firms, publishing houses, newspaper printing departments or specialized publishing companies that combine traditional methods and new technologies. Those who have a wider range of skills and are able to offer multiple services, such as website development, graphic design or distribution services, will be the most competitive in the field.

Success Tips:

  • Join a professional association. Membership benefits from joining an association such as the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) can provide numerous perks. Members have access to industry workshops and courses that can be beneficial in providing continuing education to keep current on advancements in the field.
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