Marketing and advertising careers offer exciting, creative, and dynamic opportunities in nearly every industry. In addition to writers, designers, and developers, the marketing industry employs professionals with skills in data analytics, customer psychology, and business leadership. Earning a bachelor's degree lays the foundation for a job in this sector, and graduate degrees can boost a professional's upward career trajectory.

While in school, students can prepare to launch their marketing careers by studying hard skills, such as data analysis and marketing technology, as well as soft skills, like writing and design. Marketing degrees create job opportunities in market research, advertising, management, public relations, and inbound marketing account direction.

To land a marketing job, students should start career planning and job searching early. Students can visit their college's career services office or strike up a purposeful conversation with the manager at their internship site to discuss when and how to get started on their new careers. This guide covers important information about securing a marketing career, including degree options, salary potential, and job opportunities.

A bespectcled, bearded man in a business suit explains a concept to his colleagues in a large conference room.

Skills Gained in a Marketing Program

Successful marketers continuously improve their skills to advance their careers. Professional associations, such as the American Marketing Association, offer extensive online and in-person resources for continuing education. Some companies provide employees with onsite professional trainings, and many professional organizations offer local educational events. Most marketers, however, develop the basics of their professional skills in traditional academic programs.

Interpersonal Communication

Although much of marketing addresses mass communication, one-on-one interaction proves equally important to a marketer's success. Marketing professionals must successfully communicate with staff, executives, board members, investors, buyers, vendors, and the general public. Therefore, many marketing degrees include communication courses.

Public Speaking

Marketers need excellent public-speaking skills. Public speaking enhances credibility, creates emotional loyalty to the brand, and gives voice to a logical case for the company. Marketers who wish to lead professional seminars, speak at association meetings, or teach courses also need public-speaking skills.

Writing

Writing creative, compelling content is central to the marketing profession. Strong writing skills benefit marketers as they prepare blogs, product descriptions, video scripts, white papers, and other creative components of a marketing campaign. A marketer's duties may include storytelling, relaying information, and clever wordsmithing to achieve measurable results.

Problem Solving

Much of modern marketing relies on problem-solving. Marketers position their companies' services as the most effective and efficient solutions to their customers' problems. Therefore, marketers must create offers and content that clearly demonstrate their organization's problem-solving skills.

Analytical Thinking

Marketing professionals face mountains of data with more information streaming in all of the time. Marketers must sift through that data, make sense of it, and use it to forecast future scenarios. By generating data-informed insights and developing follow-up plans, marketers can position companies as leaders in their field.

Why Pursue a Career in Marketing?

Marketing professionals can build a lucrative and rewarding career in a variety of industries. They can specialize in creative work, technology, data, or leadership, for example. They work in diverse sectors, including higher education, cryptocurrency, household repairs, and industrial sales.

As the minimum requirement for a successful marketing career, a college degree in marketing is an excellent investment. An advanced degree can help entry-level marketers move into management positions or specialized roles that come with higher salaries. With the ability to work in different sectors, marketers increase their marketable skills and improve their chances of securing a high-earning position.

Marketing degrees deliver foundational business knowledge before branching out into general marketing studies. Most online master's degrees in marketing allow students to pursue a specialization. Professional certificates and courses help marketers stay up to date on best practices in the industry.

How Much Do Marketing Majors Make?

Marketing salaries vary by location, employer, education, and experience. Some industries, such as security brokerage and oil and gas extraction, pay better than others. Senior managers with years of experience typically enjoy higher salaries than their subordinates. Additionally, marketers who work in cities generally earn more than those in rural areas. In general, marketers with a master's degree or doctorate can expect higher pay than those with only an associate or bachelor's degree.

Interview with a Professional

Scott Beckman

Scott Beckman

Digital Marketing Director, Devetry

Scott Beckman is the digital marketing director for Devetry, a custom software development company in Denver. He holds a master's degree in marketing from the University of Colorado at Denver and, as an avid growth hacker and lead generation specialist, he has experience with SEO, web design, email, social, advertising, and marketing automation.

What attracted you to the marketing field?

I got my undergraduate degree in international studies with minors in political science and economics; so clearly, marketing was not on my radar. However, my first job out of college was doing sales and marketing for an international language education company, which is where I discovered that digital marketing was perfect for someone like me who was both analytical and creative.

Since delving directly into marketing, I have found that it remains interesting because there is always more to learn. I have worked in SEO, SEM, digital advertising, web design, landing page optimization, email marketing, marketing automation, social media, and content. And that is not even a full list of all the various digital marketing channels where you could find yourself.

What certifications do you have? How important are these and which ones should marketing professionals be aware of?

I was certified in some various Google products, like Google Analytics and Google Ads, at some point, but those have probably lapsed. In my experience, certifications have not been particularly important when looking for a job in marketing; they tend to present themselves as opportunities to dig deeper into the technology you are already using once you are in a role.

What informed your decision to further your education by pursuing your master's in marketing?

Because my undergrad was not in marketing, I thought a master's degree would provide me with a lot more theoretical understanding to go along with the practical applications I was learning on the job. I also thought that it would help my resume shine when applying to director or CMO-level roles. The former is definitely true; my master's program provided a lot of foundational theories of marketing that are applicable across any channel or industry. The latter is also probably true, though it is hard to say just how much the master's degree on my resume weighed into the latest hiring decision that earned me my current director-level role.

How do you stay updated on ever-changing marketing trends?

It can be tough because I spend so much of my time either in the weeds working on campaigns or strategizing for the future. I used to sign up for a bunch of industry newsletters but found that I was always deleting them without reading them. I think I usually hear about new trends or tactics from colleagues -- once you have built up a network of like-minded professionals, those kinds of conversations come up often. Have you tried XYZ? We did, and you will not believe the results!

What final advice can you share with current and future marketing professionals?

It is hard to be original here because so many content marketers are putting out so much great content for other marketers that most things have already been said. I will just say that I think one thing that has helped me throughout my career is an ability to bounce back from failure. A lot of your marketing campaigns will not produce the results you hope they will, but rather than let it affect you personally or spend all your time trying to squeeze blood from that stone, it is really important to be able to chalk it up as a learning experience and move on.

How to Work in the Marketing Field

Earn Your Degree

Marketing professionals are in demand in almost all sectors of the global economy. Launching a successful career in marketing typically requires at least an associate or bachelor's degree in a related field. A master's degree can lead to high-level roles, such as chief marketing officer. Graduates with a doctorate in a marketing-related field may conduct research, teach at a postsecondary institution, and consult with corporations about marketing strategy and direction.

Marketing is not just about selling products; it is also about understanding what the market needs. A marketing degree exposes students to data analytics, customer psychology, qualitative research methods, marketing technology, and the creative side of marketing.

Earning an online degree can kickstart a career in marketing. Online students can focus their studies on research, data, management, copywriting, design, or public relations, leading to a specific and well-paid career in a fast-changing industry.

How Many Years of College Does It Take to Become a Marketing Professional?

Traditionally, students take two years to complete an associate degree in marketing and four years to finish a bachelor's degree. However, many factors affect the length of an online degree, including the school's transfer policies and course structures. Many colleges and universities offer credit for military experience, professional training, education, work experience, and standardized tests. Students who can take advantage of these options may reduce their time in school

Schools that offer individually paced programs allow students to study at their own pace. Cohort models, however, put all students through the same sequence of courses together. Transfer students may prefer the first option, while those just beginning their degrees may prefer the cohort format.

Concentrations Available to Marketing Majors

  • Marketing Research: Marketing research combines topics in data analytics, statistics, market analysis, and marketing communications. Students in this concentration develop critical-thinking and storytelling skills. Courses may cover data collection methods, qualitative research, applied multivariate methods, database marketing, and customer relationship management.
  • Innovation and Product Management: Innovation starts with strategic thinking geared toward sustainability and organizational growth. Students in this concentration study marketing, technology, and design. Coursework may include marketing research, marketing communications for consumer brands, and new product management. Students often conclude the program with a capstone experience.
  • Marketing Promotions and Communications: Students pursuing a marketing promotions and communications concentration take classes covering brand management, digital and social media marketing, and advertising and sales promotions. Students also learn about strategic planning for marketing. Students may evaluate marketing channels and critique advertising campaigns.
  • Sales Leadership: A sales leadership concentration often combines practical experience with classroom learning to blend knowledge with applicable sales skills. Courses may include sales fundamentals, the science of retailing, and principles of category management. Students also take communications courses to boost their skills in oral and written communication.
  • Supply Chain Sales: This interdisciplinary concentration exists at the nexus of marketing and sales studies. Students studying supply chain sales learn about personal selling, sales force management, and logistics. Courses may include sales management, retail management, and logistics management. Students may also complete a marketing internship, typically focused on fulfillment management.
  • Consumer Marketing Management: This concentration prepares students for managerial roles, such as chief marketing officer. Courses can include consumer behavior, international marketing, services marketing, retail marketing, and an internship. Students build skills in internet marketing, mass communications, consumer relations, and marketing leadership.
Average Salary by Concentration
Marketing Research $51,526
Marketing Promotions and Communications $65,021
Sales Leadership $57,246
Supply Chain Sales $111,310
Consumer Marketing Management $76,455

Source: PayScale

What Can You Do With a Marketing Degree?

Generally, marketing encompasses the promotion and sales of products and services. Within that broad definition lie the traditional five pillars of marketing: price, place, people, promotion, and product. Marketers can choose one or more of these pillars on which to ground their careers. Some marketing students become experts in consumer research, data analytics, or information acquisition. Others focus their studies on the creative side of marketing, becoming writers, video producers, designers, art directors, or television producers.

Additionally, marketing graduates can become managers and executives who lead marketing teams or departments. Some of the most lucrative marketing careers include global marketing manager, creative director, chief marketing officer, and content marketing director.

Associate Degree in Marketing

Students with an associate degree in marketing often work in office and store management positions rather than in advertising agencies or marketing departments of large companies. Many stores, shops, and offices seek managers who can effectively communicate with staff, vendors, clients, and customers. In addition to opening the door to some entry-level marketing positions, an associate degree is an excellent first step to earning a bachelor's degree.

Office Manager

An office manager oversees employees, projects, and activities within an office. As a leader, an office manager must possess strong organizational, communication, and financial skills. Office managers often serve as liaisons between management and staff in an office.

Average Salary: $46,040

Retail Store Manager

Retail store managers maintain the operations and personnel of a retail establishment. Hiring, training, and scheduling staff make up a large part of a retail manager's responsibilities. They also reconcile income and oversee inventory. Some retail store managers promote their store to a target market.

Average Salary: $46,515

Salon Manager

A salon manager oversees daily operations, addresses customer needs, hires staff, and manages the facility and budget. Many of these positions require a license in cosmetology.

Average Salary: $37,384

Customer Service Representative

A customer service representative can work in nearly any industry, providing front-line service to a company's clients and purchasers. They typically spend their time on the phone with customers, listening and entering data into a computer system. Many customer service representatives work from home.

Average Salary: $40,662

Marketing Specialist

Marketing specialist duties vary by company, but their primary goal is to advertise a company's products. A marketing specialist may take responsibility for a product line, brand, or campaign. Knowledge of demographics, content development, and budgeting helps marketing specialists succeed.

Average Salary: $49,944

Source: PayScale

Bachelor's Degree in Marketing

Earning a bachelor's degree in marketing equips students with skills in communications, digital marketing, product design, and marketing research. This four-year degree can lead to management positions, creative jobs, and client-facing opportunities. A bachelor's degree in marketing takes students a step further than an associate degree by offering individual concentrations.

A bachelor's degree in internet marketing, for example, allows students to specialize in digital marketing by offering courses such as search engine optimization (SEO), web analytics and reporting, and email marketing. Students in this major qualify for SEO and inbound marketing positions.

Marketing Manager

Marketing managers oversee one or more of a company's marketing campaigns. They usually develop a strategy for the campaign and enlist specialists to execute each component of the strategy. These professionals must be organized, quick on their feet, and skilled at market research. They also need to understand leadership in a marketing environment.

Average Salary: $63,785

Regional Sales Manager

Regional sales managers oversee sales professionals within a district. They act as coaches and mentors to local sales managers, helping them meet sales goals. Regional sales managers must be comfortable with data-based decision-making, understand the nature of marketing and sales, and possess skills in business finance. These professionals typically earn a substantial salary.

Average Salary: $80,350

Digital Marketing Manager

Digital marketing managers develop and execute a company's online marketing strategies. They use digital media to increase sales, enhance emotional loyalty to the brand, and promote product visibility. Digital marketing managers need technical knowledge about SEO and social media.

Average Salary: $64,756

Search Engine Optimization Specialist

Tasked with developing and implementing an SEO strategy for their companies, SEO specialists help improve their company's online visibility. These professionals research keywords and distribute them throughout the company's website to promote online visibility.

Average Salary: $44,233

Account Manager

Account managers oversee a company's relationship with clients and customers. Because of their client-facing role, account managers need top-notch communication skills and a background in business, sales, and marketing. They also need to stay up to date on products and industry trends, develop sales and marketing strategies at the local level, and train junior staff.

Average Salary: $52,729

Source: PayScale

Master's Degree in Marketing

A master's degree advances a marketing professional's career by equipping them with new skills and knowledge, improving their perceived value to employers, and enabling them to specialize in an area of marketing. Graduate students can pursue various specializations. An MBA in marketing, for instance, emphasizes the business and financial core of marketing, while a master's degree in digital marketing emphasizes topics such as social media marketing, digital marketing analytics, and SEO.

Marketing Executive

A marketing executive's role differs by organization. They often attend marketing meetings, contribute to new projects, manage marketing technology, and travel to meet customers. Marketing executives typically need an advanced degree and excellent social skills.

Average Salary: $62,143

Account Director

An account director manages customer accounts. They make sure that the company fulfills its contract, maintains the customer's satisfaction, and keeps invoicing current. They often take client-facing roles in marketing agencies.

Average Salary: $96,326

Product Marketing Manager

Product marketing managers need deep knowledge of their company's goods and services. They must develop complex marketing strategies that generate revenue and build brand awareness. They typically hold a degree in marketing and many years of experience in the field.

Average Salary: $86,724

Senior Marketing Manager

Senior marketing managers work with multidisciplinary teams to analyze data, develop marketing plans, and evaluate a company's campaigns and strategies. Senior marketing managers often oversee teams of employees and report to the marketing director.

Average Salary: $97,835

Search Engine Optimization Director

SEO directors improve an organization's online presence through SEO tactics. The job combines information technology with marketing. SEO directors need leadership skills, technical expertise, and an understanding of internet user communication patterns.

Average Salary: $89,539

Source: PayScale

Doctoral Degree in Marketing

A doctoral degree in marketing prepares experienced marketers to conduct research in the field. Doctoral students position themselves for careers in high-level roles, such as marketing director and chief marketing officer. Doctoral graduates may also teach marketing at the college or university level. Doctoral programs usually emphasize quantitative and qualitative research, as well as analytic measurements.

Marketing Director

Marketing directors take responsibility for all aspects of a company's marketing activities, including planning, budgeting, team development, and vendor management. They must understand customer psychology, technology, and data analysis. These professionals typically boast extensive formal education in marketing and many years of experience in the field.

Average Salary: $84,948

Senior Product Manager

Tasked with moving a product from conception to production, a senior product manager assumes many responsibilities. They must forecast market demands, understand product development, and oversee marketing planning and implementation. Extensive knowledge of their industry and its consumers helps these professionals succeed.

Average Salary: $121,652

Postsecondary Professor

A professor of marketing may teach students at the community college, college, or university levels. Professors also conduct research, publish their findings, and present information at marketing conferences. They may also serve as consultants to marketing teams. Most postsecondary professors hold a doctorate.

Average Salary: $86,667

Senior Vice President of Sales

The senior vice president of sales leads the sales teams and initiatives of a company. To establish their company's products in the market, these professionals communicate with sales staff and perform market and sales analysis. An extensive background in sales and marketing prepares candidates for this role.

Average Salary: $138,772

Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

The highest-ranking person in an organization, the CEO typically oversees all major decisions for a company. CEOs need strong strategic planning, team leadership, and operational skills. Marketing executives typically need extensive experience in branding and finance to move into CEO roles.

Average Salary: $159,391

Source: PayScale

Unexpected Careers for Marketing Majors

Marketing students gain transferable skills that they can use in diverse industries and roles. Graduates can pursue careers in industries such as public relations, fundraising, and event planning. Many fast-growing and lucrative professions require the skills in communication, mass psychology, data collection and analysis, and creative thinking that marketing students develop.

Professional marketers may write reports, manage social media, and make data-based decisions. They typically need proficiency with digital communication and marketing technology. Marketers with empathy, interpersonal skills, persuasiveness, and assertiveness excel in their positions.

Restaurant Manager

Restaurant managers oversee all aspects of an eatery. They hire, train, and fire staff; purchase goods from vendors; reconcile sales; and make deposits. Managers often take a lead role in marketing their restaurant through advertising, pricing, and customer service. They rely on leadership skills and education to do their jobs.

Average Salary: $44,675

Public Relations Manager

Usually, public relations managers hold at least a bachelor's degree in a marketing-related field. These professionals work in many industries, helping to design and execute public awareness campaigns for companies and individuals. Public relations managers often produce or oversee written copy, social media, design, and events.

Average Salary: $64,746

Event Planner

Working in corporate, educational, and nonprofit environments, event planners organize and facilitate events. Relying on their superior organizational skills, these professionals plan schedules, handle facilities issues, and liaise with special guests and speakers. Event planners must be quick on their feet and able to manage stressful situations.

Average Salary: $46,431

Fundraising Coordinator

Fundraising coordinators work in nonprofit organizations and educational settings. Their job may entail calling on donors, managing fundraising events, or developing marketing and fundraising materials for organizations. Fundraising requires skills in marketing, donor psychology, administration, and sales.

Average Salary: $40,689

Media Planner

Tasked with helping to coordinate and publicize messages to interested parties, media planners work within a marketing and advertising team. These professionals promote new and upgraded goods and services as well as play a key role in corporate messaging during a crisis. Successful media planners possess excellent communication and computer skills and often boast experience in marketing.

Average Salary: $48,830

Source: PayScale

Licensure and Certification

While most careers for marketing majors do not require licensure, you may seek certifications to further your knowledge and advance in your marketing career. These certifications may focus on general marketing or niche subjects, like pay-per-click advertising, search marketing, social media marketing, and digital selling. Securing one or more of these certifications can give you a notable advantage when competing for jobs in the field.

  • Google Academy for Ads
    This free online training platform allows marketing professionals to learn about Google's advertising products, including AdWords and DoubleClick. Individuals can also seek the Google analytics individual qualification, which covers data collection, conversion, planning, and key metrics.
  • Bing Ads Academy
    The academy offers courses on Bing tools, features, and strategies to allow marketing professionals to maximize the platform's use. The Bing Ads Accredited Professional certification can also help boost a professional's marketing career.
  • HootSuite Academy
    HootSuite offers social media marketing and advertising certifications. Professionals can learn about the HootSuite platform, social media ROI, social selling, advanced strategy, and other important topics.
  • HubSpot Academy
    Marketing professionals can obtain certifications focused on HubSpot sales software, inbound marketing, content marketing, and social media.

Where Can You Work as a Marketing Professional?

Marketing professionals work in diverse industries with many employment opportunities. Marketers can work for agencies, companies, or themselves. They can earn six-figure salaries or take part-time roles. Salaries and opportunities are typically greater in well-populated urban areas with high concentrations of cutting-edge industries than in rural settings or places with low population density.

Locations

Location plays a vital role in marketing career opportunities. Marketers in California, New York, and New Jersey enjoy many opportunities thanks to the major international companies located in these states. With large populations of senior citizens, Arizona and Florida may offer more openings for healthcare marketers than other states. Marketers should consider potential salaries along with the cost of living and quality of life when deciding whether to move to a new location.

Industries

Software as a Service (SaaS) Development

SaaS companies typically offer subscription-based services, such as email marketing or financial technology. Marketers in this industry focus on SEO, content marketing, Google Ads, and product placement.

Average Salary: $70,150

Marketing, Advertising, and Media Management

Many marketers work for advertising, marketing, and media management agencies that contract their services to a variety of companies. Some of these agencies specialize in one service, while others offer a broad base of services.

Average Salary: $56,463

Manufacturing

Marketers help manufacturing companies succeed by positioning their company as a thought leader in the industry, publishing high-quality content, creating video tours of their facilities, and determining product pricing and placement.

Average Salary: $87,002

Financial Services

The financial services industry includes banks, credit unions, online loan providers, financial technology companies, and regulatory agencies. Marketers in this industry often focus on data management, research, and content creation.

Average Salary: $77,295

Public Relations, Marketing, and Special Events

PR and marketing professionals help businesses and organizations communicate with target audiences. They may write content, create design pieces, develop strategies, and plan special events on behalf of clients.

Average Salary: $60,000

Source: PayScale

How Do You Find a Job as a Marketing Professional?

While a bachelor's degree in marketing opens the door to entry-level marketing jobs, a master's degree and industry certifications lead to higher-level and specialized roles. Marketing as a whole is a growing profession. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects market research analyst positions to grow by 23% through 2026.

Marketing graduates can start their job search with online job boards geared toward the profession, including Adrants.com, VentureBeat.com, and Mashable.com. Professional networks also provide job opportunities. Students can build their network by joining professional marketing associations.

Professional Resources for Marketing Majors

Association of National Advertisers

Established in 1910, the ANA serves more than 15,000 members from over 1,000 companies. The association provides local workshops and extensive online content, webinars, and conferences. The ANA also conducts advocacy and government relations initiatives.


Data & Marketing Association

A division of the Association of National Advertisers, DMA provides advocacy, information, coursework, and networking opportunities for members. The organization publishes ethical guidelines, an academic journal, and a membership list. DMA also provides international awards for marketers and numerous marketing and data certification programs.


Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization

Serving the digital marketing and search industries, SEMPO is a nonprofit trade organization with an educational mission. Members can take advantage of webinars, discounts on industry training events, and hangout chats with industry experts. SEMPO provides networking events at industry conferences around the world and publishes annual industry reports.


Internet Marketing Association

One of the largest associations of internet marketing professionals, IMA is a knowledge-sharing platform with free and paid membership options. The organization offers the certified internet marketer designation for professionals who pass the Online Marketing Certified Associate Exam and attend at least one networking event. Members can also participate in local IMA groups.


American Marketing Association

A network of 445,000 marketing professionals, the AMA publishes eight professional journals and newsletters, maintains an extensive collection of academic resources, provides multiple job boards, and offers career training. College students, doctoral students, and young professionals can qualify for special membership packages and receive AMA industry awards.


Hubspot Academy

Focused on inbound marketing and sales, Hubspot Academy offers courses and certificates in subjects such as social media, sales enablement, content marketing, email marketing, and contextual marketing. HubSpot Academy's learning tools are free, and students can take advantage of discussion groups and video-based training. More than 130,000 people have earned a Hubspot certificate.


Content Marketing Association

The CMA provides members with learning opportunities such as digital breakfasts, training courses, and an annual summit. The organization also publishes case studies and sponsors the International Content Marketing Awards. Job searchers can take advantage of an online job bank, though most positions listed are located in the United Kingdom.


Lynda

The educational arm of LinkedIn, Lynda offers hundreds of online professional development courses in a variety of fields. Marketers can take advantage of classes, including email and newsletter marketing foundations, learning web analytics, and online video content strategy. Students pay a monthly fee to enjoy as many of Lynda's courses as they like.


Storybrand

Founded by bestselling author Donald Miller, Storybrand provides corporate training, private workshops, and online courses for marketers. Storybrand's online course includes videos, a workbook, and an opportunity to collaborate with other professionals. Storybrand also hosts a library of resources called Storybrand Experts Academy.


Insights Association

Composed of 12 chapters throughout the U.S., Insights Association provides networking opportunities, resources, advocacy, and education in data analytics and market research. Members can attend events, participate in webinars, access on-demand educational options, and read the association's journals. The organization also prepares members for career advancement through certifications, such as the professional researcher certification.