Marketing and advertising careers offer exciting, creative, and dynamic opportunities that span nearly every industry. Though often perceived as a career path for writers, designers, and developers, marketing also 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 copywriting or design. Marketing degrees also open up job opportunities in market research, management, public relations, and inbound marketing account direction. To land one of these types of marketing jobs, students need to start career planning and job searching early. Students can visit their college’s career service office or a strike up a purposeful conversation with the manager at their internship site to discuss when and how to get started on their new careers.
Skills Gained in a Marketing Program
Successful marketers continuously improve their skills in order to advance their careers and benefit their employers. Professional associations, such as the American Marketing Association, offer extensive online and in-person resources for continuing education. Some companies provide employees with on-site professional trainings, and most professional membership organizations offer local educational events. Some marketers choose to earn certifications through professional associations or semiformal educational sites that host online courses. Most marketers, however, gain the rudiments of their professional skills in traditional academic programs.
- Interpersonal Communication
Although much of marketing builds on mass communication, face-to-face dialogue is equally important to a marketer’s success. Marketing professionals communicate with staff, executives, board members, investors, buyers, vendors, and the general public. Many marketing degrees include courses in interpersonal communication.
- Public Speaking
Marketers must be excellent public speakers themselves as well as coaches in the art of stage communication for high-level executives. 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 to be skilled public speakers.
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. Great writing is clear, precise, intentional, and arresting. It includes 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. Marketers must create offers and content that clearly demonstrate their organization’s problem-solving skills. In turn, marketers also serve as key problem solvers for their employers.
- Analytical Thinking
Today’s marketing professionals face mountains of data with more information streaming in all the time. Marketers must demonstrate the ability to sift through that data, make sense of it, and use it to forecast future scenarios. By generating insights and developing follow-up plans based on data, marketers can position their employers 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. The applications of marketing vary widely. Marketers can specialize in creative work, technology, data, or leadership, for example. And they work in many differing sectors, including higher education, cryptocurrency, household repairs, and industrial sales. Both the day-to-day work of a marketer and the industries that employ marketers can be as challenging, rewarding, and fast-paced as the individual chooses.
As the minimum requirement to becoming a successful marketer, a four-year college degree in marketing is an excellent investment. Often, additional formal education 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 build on a foundation of general business knowledge. From there, the curriculum branches out into general marketing studies. Then, most programs allow students to specialize in the area that most interests them. Online master’s degrees in marketing, professional certificates, and technical skills courses can help marketers stay up to date on best practices in the industry.
How Much Do Marketing Majors Make?
Different factors influence the amount of money you can earn as a marketing professional. Salaries vary by geography, employer, educational level, and years of experience. Some industries, such as security brokerage or oil and gas extraction, pay better than others. Senior managers with years of experience typically enjoy higher salaries than their subordinates. And those who work in cities generally earn more than those in rural areas. In general, marketers who hold a master’s degree or a doctorate can expect higher pay than those who earned only an associate or bachelor’s business marketing degree.
How to Work in the Marketing Field
Earn Your Degree
Marketing professionals are in demand in almost all the sectors of the American and global economies. But launching a successful career in marketing typically requires at least a bachelor’s degree in a related field. A master’s degree, however, can open up managerial positions that eventually lead to high-level roles, such as chief marketing officer. Those who earn 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’s also about understanding what the market needs. Simply having the personality and communication capacity to convince customers to buy a product is insufficient to build a career in this complex, varied, and data-centric field. A marketing degree broadens students’ thinking by exposing them 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 policy, credit for life experience policy, and course structure. Students with transfer credits, for instance, can significantly shorten the amount of time necessary to complete their degree.
Schools that offer individually paced programs allow students to select courses according to their own pace and timing. 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. Many colleges and universities offer credit for military experience, professional training, work experience, and standardized tests. Students who can take advantage of these options may reduce their time in school.
Concentrations Available for Marketing Majors
- Marketing Research
Marketing research combines topics in data analytics, statistics, market analysis, and marketing communications. The concentration’s mathematically sophisticated content also requires students to gain soft skills, such as critical thinking and storytelling. Courses may include data collection methods, qualitative research, applied multivariate methods, database marketing, and customer relationship management.
Median Salary: $51,482
- Innovation and Product Management
Innovation starts with strategic thinking geared toward sustainability and organizational growth. Students in this concentration learn marketing, technology, and design in an integrated curriculum. Coursework may include marketing research, new product management, marketing communications for consumer brands, and new product management. Students often conclude their programs with a capstone experience.
Median Salary: $81,169
- 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. This concentration emphasizes evaluating marketing channels and critiquing advertising campaigns.
Median Salary: $41,929
- Sales Leadership
A sales leadership concentration often combines practical experience with classroom learning to blend knowledge with applicable sales skills. This concentration’s courses can include introduction to marketing research, sales fundamentals, the science of retailing, and principles of category management. Students also take communication courses to boost their skills in oral and written communication.
Median Salary: $64,609
- 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 also complete a marketing internship, typically focused on fulfillment management.
Median Salary: $81,529
- 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.
Median Salary: $74,298
What Can You Do with a Marketing Degree?
Generally, marketing encompasses the promotion and sales of products by a business. Within that broad definition lie the traditional five pillars of marketing: price, place, people, promotion, and product. As professionals, 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 and become writers, video producers, designers, art directors, or television producers.
Still other marketing majors plan to become managers and executives who lead entire marketing teams or departments. Some of the most interesting and lucrative marketing careers include global marketing manager, creative director, chief marketing officer, and content marketing director. Earning a marketing manager salary almost always requires a bachelor’s degree, and many employers prefer applicants with master’s degrees. An associate degree, however, may be enough to gain a position that pays an entry-level marketing salary.
Associate Degree in Marketing
Students with an associate degree in marketing often work in office and store management positions rather than jobs in advertising agencies or the marketing departments of large companies. Many stores, shops, and offices seek out skilled business leaders who know how to communicate with staff, vendors, clients, and prospective customers. In a small business setting, much of the responsibility falls on the manager’s shoulders, so knowledge of marketing and sales can increase an applicant’s chances at securing a managerial post after succeeding in entry-level marketing jobs. An associate degree can also be an excellent first step on the way to a four-year bachelor’s degree.
- Office Manager
An office manager oversees employees, projects, and activities within an office. As a leader, an office manager needs to be organized, possess strong communication skills, and demonstrate financial expertise. Office managers often serve as liaisons between management and staff in an office.
- Retail Store Manager
Retail store managers maintain all the operations and personnel management of a retail establishment. Hiring, training, and scheduling staff make up a large part of a retail manager’s responsibilities, but so do reconciling income and inventorying stock. Some retail store managers must also promote their store within a target market.
- Salon Manager
Overseeing the daily operations of a beauty salon or spa, a salon manager deals with customer needs, hires staff, manages the facility, and manages the budget. These professionals need marketing know-how to bring their salon’s services to their target market’s attention. Many of these positions require a license in cosmetology.
- Customer Service Representative
A customer service representative can work in nearly any industry, providing front-line service to a company’s clients and purchasers. Most companies expect their customer service representatives to spend the majority of their time on the phone with customers, listening and simultaneously entering data into a computer system. Many customer service representatives now work from home instead of a call center or office.
- Marketing Specialist
With a role that varies significantly from company to company, a marketing specialist can expect a challenging and often-changing job. This professional’s 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 secure and retain their positions.
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, emphasizing data management, and increasing student awareness of general business principles. A bachelor’s degree in internet marketing allows students to specialize in digital marketing by offering courses such as search engine optimization (SEO), web analytics and reporting, and email marketing. Students holding this major qualify for positions in SEO and inbound marketing.
- Marketing Manager
Marketing managers take charge of one or more of a company’s marketing campaigns. They usually develop a broad general strategy for the campaign before bringing in technical specialists in each area. These professionals need to be well organized, quick on their feet, and skilled at market research. Most importantly, they need to understand leadership in a marketing environment.
- Regional Sales Manager
Regional sales managers oversee all the sales professionals within a district. They act as coaches and mentors to local sales managers, helping them meet or exceed established sales goals. Regional sales managers need to be comfortable with data-based decision making, understand the nature of marketing and sales, and have skills in business finance. These professionals typically earn a substantial business marketing salary.
- 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 as well as a background in marketing and good general business sense.
- Search Engine Optimization Specialist
Charged with developing and implementing an SEO strategy for their companies, SEO specialists help improve their company’s online visibility. Within the broader field of internet marketing, these professionals contribute to their company’s marketing team by researching keywords and distributing them throughout their company website’s text.
- Account Manager
Account managers oversee a company’s relationship with select individual clients or 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.
Master’s Degree in Marketing
Earning a master’s degree can ramp up 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 a single area of marketing. This degree can help students land jobs in up-and-coming specialties, such as marketing research. Graduate students can choose different emphases in their marketing majors. 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. Candidates with a master’s degree can expect a higher average marketing salary than someone with an associate degree.
- Marketing Executive
A marketing executive’s role differs according to the organization. He or she often attends marketing meetings, contributes to new projects, selects or manages marketing technology, and travels to meet customers. Marketing executives need a high-level degree in the field and excellent social skills to do their jobs well.
- Account Director
An account director manages existing customer accounts. Each client or customer interfaces with an account director who is responsible for making sure that the company fulfills its contract, maintains the customer’s satisfaction, and keeps invoicing current. An account director often takes a client-facing role in marketing agencies.
- Product Marketing Manager
Creative and visionary, product marketing managers acquire a deep knowledge of their company’s goods and services. They must develop a full, complex marketing strategy that generates the highest revenue possible for the company. They typically hold a degree in marketing and have many years of experience in the field.
- Senior Marketing Manager
A mid-level executive overseeing brand management, product development, and marketing planning, senior marketing managers work with multidisciplinary teams to understand data, use it to develop and implement plans, and evaluate the company’s campaigns and strategies. Senior marketing managers often oversee teams of 2-3 people and report to the marketing director.
- Search Engine Optimization Director
SEO directors aim to improve their organization’s online presence by using SEO tactics. The job forms a hybrid between information technology and marketing. SEO directors need leadership skills, technical know-how, and an intuitive understanding of internet user communication patterns. They may work for any size company, nonprofit, or educational organization.
Doctoral Degree in Marketing
A doctoral degree in marketing provides an opportunity for experienced marketers to conduct applied or academic research in the field. By expanding their base of knowledge in the field, doctoral students position themselves for careers in high-level roles, such as marketing director and chief marketing officer. Graduates of marketing doctoral programs also open up opportunities for research, publication, and conference presentations. Some doctoral students plan to teach marketing at the college or university level after completing their degrees. Doctoral programs usually emphasize quantitative and qualitative research in the field as well as precise analytic measurements beyond the master’s degree level.
- Marketing Director
Marketing directors take responsibility for all aspects of a company’s marketing activities, including planning, budgeting, team development, and vendor relationship management. They understand customer psychology, appropriate technology, and data analysis. These professionals typically hold extensive formal education in marketing and many years of practical experience in the field.
- Senior Product Manager
Charged with moving a product from conception to production, a senior product manager can assume 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.
- Postsecondary Professor
A professor of marketing may teach students at the community college, college, or university levels. Professors also do research in the field, publish their findings, and present information at marketing conferences. They may even serve as consultants to marketing teams. Almost all postsecondary professors hold a doctorate in marketing.
- Senior Vice President of Sales
The senior vice president of sales leads the sales teams and initiatives at a company-wide level. To establish their company’s products in the market, these professionals spend their days communicating directly with sales staff and doing market and sales analysis. An extensive background in sales and marketing prepares candidates for this role.
- Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
The highest-ranking staff member in an organization, the CEO typically makes all major decisions for the company. Strategic planning, team leadership, and operational oversight all can fall within a CEO’s purview. Marketing executives must accumulate extensive experience in branding and a deep knowledge of finance in order to move into the CEO role.
Unexpected Careers for Marketing Majors
Students who choose a marketing degree ultimately gain a set of transferable skills they can take into diverse industries and roles beyond becoming a standard marketing professional. In fact, job seekers with a marketing degree can pursue many different careers, including public relations, fundraising, and event planning. Many of today’s fastest growing and most lucrative professions require sharp skills in communication, mass psychology, data collection and analysis, and creative thinking, all of which students develop with a marketing major.
Professional marketers usually possess well-honed talents in writing reports, managing social media, and making data-based decisions. They may also be comfortable with digital communication and marketing technology, all of which can contribute toward success in multiple job functions. Most marketers have also developed personal attributes, such as empathy, interpersonal skills, persuasiveness, and assertiveness, that transfer well into a variety of industries and roles.
- Restaurant Manager
Restaurant managers take charge of 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, training in restaurant management, and practical education to do their jobs.
Median Salary: $43,936
- Public Relations Manager
Usually, public relations managers hold at least a bachelor’s degree in a marketing-related field. These professionals work in many fields, helping design and execute public awareness campaigns for their employers. Public relations managers often produce or oversee written copy, social media, design, and events for their organizations.
Median Salary: $63,792
- Event Planner
Working in corporate, educational, or nonprofit environments, event planners organize and facilitate both large and small events. Relying on their superior organizational skills, these professionals order refreshments, plan schedules, handle facilities issues, and liaise with special guests and speakers. Decisive and articulate, event planners must be quick on their feet and able to manage stressful situations.
Median Salary: $45,419
- 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 their organizations. Fundraising requires skills in marketing, donor psychology, administration, and sales as well as a passion for the organization’s mission.
Median Salary: $40,423
- Media Planner
Charged with helping 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 have excellent communication and computer skills and often hold experience in marketing.
Median Salary: $47,514
Where Can You Work as a Marketing Professional?
Marketing professionals work in a broad, fast-growing industry with many employment options available around the nation and beyond. Marketers can work for agencies, companies, or themselves. They can earn six-figure salaries or take part-time roles as they wish. Four primary factors can affect a marketing professional’s career: location, industry, setting, and populations. 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.
A marketing professional’s state of residence can affect their career trajectory, as marketing agencies often rely on local industries for business. Marketers who live in California, New York, and New Jersey can find 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. When considering moving to a new location, marketers need to consider not only the marketing degree salary but also the cost of living and quality of life as they select a job.
- 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: $80,000
- 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 while others offer a broad base of service.
Average Salary: $56,660
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 helping determine product pricing and placement.
Average Salary: $64,054
- 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: $66,425
- Accounting, Auditing, and Tax Services
Accounting, auditing, and tax services companies can be as small as a one-person operation or as large as a multibillion dollar firm. Marketers must understand new markets and leverage client pain points to position their company as a top service provider.
Average Salary: $60,923
How Do You Find a Job as a Marketing Professional?
While a bachelor’s degree in marketing is standard, job seekers can bolster their resumes by adding a master’s degree or industry certifications, such as a Google Ads or a Google Analytics certification. One of the hottest specializations in marketing today is marketing automation. Marketing as a whole is a growing profession, and market research analysts can expect their field to grow by 23% between 2016 and 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Marketers seeking jobs can start their search with online job boards geared toward the profession, including Adrants.com, VentureBeat.com, and Mashable.com. Of course, the best job search tool is a strong personal network. Students can get started creating their networks by joining professional marketing associations that offer local and national conferences. Industries that employ the most marketing professionals include management, scientific, and technical consulting services; finance and insurance; and wholesale trades.
Professional Resources for Marketing Majors
- Association of National Advertisers: Established in 1910, the ANA now serves more than 15,000 individual members from 1,000-plus companies and about 15,000 brands. The association provides local workshops, as well as an extensive array of 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 to members. The organization publishes ethical guidelines, an academic journal, and a membership list. DMA sponsors international awards for marketers and numerous marketing and data certification programs as well as an online career center.
- 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 at 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 serves as a knowledge-sharing platform with both free and paid membership options. The organization offers the certified internet marketer designation for those who pass the online marketing certified associate exam and who 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 can 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 also 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. The company also offers live workshops. Storybrand’s online course includes videos, a workbook, and an opportunity to collaborate with other professionals. It also sponsors 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 equips members for career advancement through certifications, such as the professional researcher certification.