How to Become a Marketing Manager

Wondering what it takes to be a marketing manager? Read on to learn about the average marketing manager salary and how to become a marketing manager.

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by Staff Writers

Published August 29, 2022

Edited by Amelia Buckley
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How to Become a Marketing Manager
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Becoming a marketing manager requires candidates to hold at least a bachelor's degree in marketing, as well as experience working in marketing roles. Because these professionals oversee staff and budgets, they must understand many facets of their companies to find success.

Marketing managers tend to be creative, focused individuals who enjoy learning about new marketing tools and finding innovative ways of harnessing digital and print media to accomplish campaign goals. They also enjoy working with many different people, including staff and vendors.

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Ready to start your journey?

What Does a Marketing Manager Do?

Marketing Manager Responsibilities

  • Manage marketing assistants, marketing coordinators, and other departmental staff.
  • Negotiate with vendors to stay within costs and manage departmental budgets.
  • Design marketing and promotional campaigns to raise company awareness and increase sales.

Marketing manager positions are rarely available to recent graduates, but those with a few years of experience can move into these roles. While an advanced degree is not always required, a master's degree or specialized skills can help enhance applications.

Whether a first-time student or an experienced professional considering a career change, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that marketing management positions offer above-average salaries and projected growth of 10% between 2020 and 2030. As of 2021, marketing managers earn median yearly wages of $133,380.

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What Are the Steps to Become a Marketing Manager?

Individuals aspiring to the role of marketing manager need postsecondary training and years of experience. In this section, we take a look at the steps prospective marketing managers can take to achieve their goals.

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree in Marketing

For the vast majority of future marketing managers, earning a bachelor's degree in marketing acts as the first step. When choosing a major, a bachelor's in marketing often makes the most sense, but students can also study topics such as advertising, marketing management, communication, or business.

Most of these programs require four years of full-time study, including a semester-long internship. In addition to general marketing studies, some schools also provide specializations. These vary from program to program, but common options include product marketing, e-commerce, lifecycle marketing, and growth marketing. Students can reach out to their academic advisors to map out a degree plan that matches their professional goals.

Step 2: Get an Entry-Level Marketing Job

Marketing manager positions require candidates with a few years of experience, so recent graduates looking to land a job after college likely do not qualify for these positions. When looking for jobs, some positions to search for include marketing coordinator, advertising sales agent, or public relations assistant.

As of July 2022, Payscale reports that marketing coordinators earned average base salaries of $46,240. Most recent graduates stay in their entry-level roles for approximately two years before moving on to something more challenging. Students struggling to find work may consider completing additional internships, finding a marketing mentor, or completing a career bridge program.

Step 3: Earn Your Master's of Marketing

Some marketing professionals decide to return to school either for a master's in marketing or an MBA with a concentration in marketing. Some schools even provide online master's in digital marketing programs.

Expenses for these programs can vary substantially, and some students question whether they want to go into debt to earn this extra credential. While not always necessary, it can help job seekers stand out from other candidates. Most programs require between 18-24 months of study. For those who are unsure whether they want to go to graduate school, alternatives like continuing education opportunities can provide additional training without the expense of a full degree.

Step 4: Get a Job as a Marketing Manager

Jobs for marketing managers exist in a wide variety of industries and offer plenty of opportunities to focus on specific specialty areas based on experience and interests. Whether pursuing work in product, digital, social media, or brand management, these roles offer plenty of opportunities for experience and growth.

BLS data reports that, as of 2021, marketing managers earned median annual salaries $133,380. Those in the top 10% of earners took home salaries above $208,000, making this a lucrative career.

Step 5: Consider Continuing Education or Specialization

Marketing managers commonly participate in continuing education to keep up with evolving marketing trends, emerging technologies, and new social media platforms. Students can choose from a variety of online marketing graduate certificates as well as online business certificate programs.

Some professional associations, such as the Data and Marketing Association, provide opportunities for continuing education as well. Some learners may also complete a doctorate in marketing if they hope to work in academia and/or research.

What to Know Before Becoming an Marketing Manager

Accreditation

Ensuring any school holds proper institutional accreditation — particularly when looking at online programs — is an important step when choosing a marketing program. While programmatic marketing accreditation does not currently exist, those who decide to complete an MBA in marketing can look for AACSB-accredited offerings.

Cost

Data from the CollegeBoard shows that the true cost of tuition and fees for bachelor's degree programs reached an average of $10,740 and $28,070 per year in 2021 for public and private universities, respectively. Meanwhile, a master's degree tuition and fees cost an average of $9,000 for public and $28,900 for private universities. When making financial decisions regarding college, students should compare costs between online and campus-based programs, look for hidden college costs like technology fees, and apply for scholarships and financial aid. Marketing students may qualify for exclusive business student scholarships.

Salary

While marketing managers earned median salaries of $133,380 per year in 2021, earning a master's in marketing may increase earning potential. An advanced degree can help professionals join the top 10% of earners and take home more than $208,000 per year. Location also matters. BLS data shows that marketing managers in New York earn the highest annual mean wage, at $190,760.

Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Marketing Manager

What qualifications do you need to become a marketing manager?

Becoming a marketing manager typically includes completing a bachelor's in marketing or a similar degree and gaining experience in entry-level roles. In addition to academic qualifications, candidates for marketing manager roles are expected to sharpen their communication, leadership, and technical skills in their earlier jobs.Hiring managers look for candidates with an understanding and mastery of the full marketing cycle, an ability to work seamlessly with other departments in the business, a strong understanding of finances, and the ability to manage others in the marketing department.

What is the fastest way to become a marketing manager?

The path toward becoming a marketing manager looks different for every professional. That said, nearly every one of these professionals holds a bachelor's degree. These programs typically require four years of full-time study, but some online programs offer an accelerated path lasting only three years.Additionally, working for a smaller company or startup with fewer overall employees may also provide the opportunity for professionals to move up the career ladder more quickly. From there, they can transfer their title to larger, more robust organizations.

What entry-level positions should I pursue to become a marketing manager?

Plenty of entry-level marketing, sales, advertising, branding, and social media positions exist for recent graduates looking to get their feet in the door. Whether working as a sales associate, advertising assistant, or marketing coordinator, each of these roles helps recent graduates begin implementing skills gained during college. The type of role a recent graduate pursues will also depend on their intended career trajectory. Someone looking to focus on social media typically would not take a position at a marketing agency focused on print marketing.

Can I become a marketing manager with an online degree?

Yes. Earning an online bachelor's in marketing carries the same cache as a degree earned in-person — so long as both hold proper accreditation. In fact, your diploma won't even note whether you earned your degree online or on campus.Online bachelor's in marketing degrees typically provide more flexibility for busy students looking to balance professional and personal responsibilities with academics. Some of these programs may also be cheaper, as they help learners avoid some of the costs and fees associated with campus-based learning.

How much do marketing managers make?

Marketing managers earned median annual salaries of $133,380 in 2021 — far above the annual mean wage for all occupations of $58,260 reported by the BLS. Marketing managers working in information services earned the highest median pay at $163,360 annually, while those in wholesale trade earned the least with a median pay of $103,030.Marketing managers in the lowest 10% of earners — typically those working at small companies or with less work experience — took home less than $61,250 in 2021. Meanwhile, those in the top 10% of earners commanded salaries over $208,000 during the same year.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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