Many organizations and industries engage in marketing efforts in some shape or form. For example, a clothing company might want to launch a new advertising campaign, a consulting company might need to research what motivates shoppers to buy a particular product, or a charitable organization might need someone to orchestrate publicity to raise awareness for a particular cause. All of these marketing needs can be fulfilled by those in various marketing careers. Learn more about those marketing careers and the educational paths to get there.
Marketing degrees teach students how to analyze consumer demand and promote products to consumers. Marketing degrees allow students to work in many different areas; in fact, the flexibility of marketing degrees is one reason that they are so popular.
Thanks to such a wide variety of professions that make use of a marketing education, these degrees can be found at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate levels. While all teach marketing concepts, each degree is tailored for particular objectives in order to most effectively prepare students for any number of marketing careers, which can range from sales worker to college professor.
Marketing degrees are not only found at multiple levels, but with varying concentrations and opportunities for specialization. Some degrees are for entry-level positions and provide a solid foundational knowledge base for any number of marketing careers. Other degrees are more specific, such as the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), which is targeted toward research and teaching, and offer specialty areas such as behavioral and quantitative marketing. Many of these unique marketing degrees found at the graduate level also prepare students for leadership and management roles upon graduation.
Diving into a marketing career can begin as early as high school. Here’s what to expect from the educational and professional journey.
Most marketing careers require a bachelor’s degree and some require or recommend a graduate degree. No matter which degree is eventually obtained, it all starts with getting a high school diploma. While most high school courses don’t relate directly to marketing, doing well in classes such as English and math is important. Additionally, if there are any clubs or organizations in your school that promote business or communications, you should dip your toe into the marketing pool by becoming involved in them. Student leadership can also teach high school students about marketing and promotions.
The bachelor’s degree is the standard minimum for many marketing professions. A marketing degree usually takes four years to complete and is commonly found as a staple major at most college and universities. Marketing is customarily part of business studies, so while some marketing degrees may be in marketing, others may be in business with a marketing emphasis.
An internship is an important step toward finding postgraduate employment. Not only does the internship give valuable real-world and hands-on experience, it also helps interns get their foot in the door of prospective employers and establish professional connections – that networking can come in handy later in their career. Internships may be during the summer of the bachelor’s program but might also be post-graduate.
The first entry-level job will provide a level of experience that can’t be matched by any internship. If a marketing professional has aspirations for a graduate degree or more advanced marketing positions with more responsibility, gaining experience will be crucial. Entry level marketing jobs may include marketing analyst, marketing associate, marketing assistant or marketing specialist. People in these jobs may help collect and analyze marketing data and perform other administrative tasks as needed, all while gaining valuable experience in marketing.
Depending on career goals and overall ambition, a graduate degree may be needed. This is especially true for those at upper level management and leadership positions, such as chief marketing officers or vice president of sales. While there are marketing graduate degrees, a graduate degree like a Master of Business Administration (MBA) is highly advisable to get to the very top of the ladder. Other graduate marketing degrees are more focused on a specific aspect of marketing, such as digital marketing and marketing management. For other positions, such as researcher or professor, a PhD could be recommended.
There are numerous degree paths available for those who want a career in marketing. Outside of the bachelor’s degree, each marketing degree will usually be tailored for a specific purpose of objective. The chart below offers an overview of each possibility, and why students might choose one path over another.
|Career Goal & Educational Needs||Associate||Bachelor’s||Certificate||Master’s||Doctorate||Online|
I’m about to graduate high school and I want to eventually work in public relations, advertising or sales. I want a degree that provides the best chances of having a career in marketing as well as having flexibility in what I can do after graduating college.
I’m already working in the marketing field, but I need extra instruction in certain concentrations. I also want to take a management role in my company.
After I finish high school, I’d like to start working as soon as possible while keeping the option of getting a bachelor’s degree open. I want something that gives me enough training so I can begin working within a few years.
I would like to pursue a marketing degree, but I can’t afford to attend school again, especially not on campus. With my full-time job and family, I can only get a marketing degree if I have flexibility to take classes on my schedule and learn at my own pace.
I need more specialized and directed instruction about marketing industries and trends, but without committing to a full degree program. I’d also like to be able to choose specific classes to meet my professional and educational needs.
I want to conduct high level marketing research to study consumer habits and understand why shoppers make the decisions they do. I also would to become a professor and teach at the college or university level.
Depending upon the profession, an aspiring marketer can seek out anything from a certificate to a PhD – and in most cases, these programs can be found not only in brick-and-mortar schools, but online as well. Here’s a rundown of what to expect from each level.
Marketing certificates can be found at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The purpose of these certificate programs is to provide tailored instruction in a compact program, usually lasting no more than a few months. Depending on the school, the credits obtained in a certificate program can later be applied toward a degree.
The coursework will vary greatly, based on the student’s individual choice and the specialized area covered by the certificate. However, some sample classes a student can find in a certificate program include:
Students will learn advanced methods for identifying consumer trends and helping businesses take advantage of those trends.
Ability to identify consumer needs and wants.
Knowledge of how consumers think
Recognition of which marketing strategies are suited for particular business needs
Students will be taught how to make effective strategic decisions in order to profitably implement marketing plans.
Familiarity with market-oriented strategic planning
Proper use of Internet and social media marketing
Design and implementation of sales promotions
How to most effectively market to consumers from various cultures.
Obtain cultural insights based on research and historical data
Recognition of connection between consumer desires and culture of the consumer
Create more targeted marketing plans specifically tailored for buyers from specific cultures.
An associate degree in marketing could be a solid choice for those who want to learn about marketing, but don’t want to commit to a full bachelor’s degree and/or would like to begin working as soon as possible. Depending on the program, an associate degree can allow graduates to begin working within two years after high school, sometimes even less. And if the students decide to get a bachelor’s degree, most if not all of the associate degree credits will count toward that degree.
Students may take a variety of basic marketing classes in an associate’s degree program, such as:
The fundamental and foundational concepts and methods in marketing are presented in this class.
Application of marketing strategies to achieve business goals
Familiarity with marketing research methods
Understanding of consumer behavior
The overall business practices of a retail business are explained in this course.
Use of retail management techniques
Understanding multichannel retailing
How to maintain and improve vendor relationships
Students will learn about psychological, cultural and other factors that affect consumer buying habits.
Ability to take advantage of buyer patterns to improve sales
How buyer characteristics affect purchases
Familiarity with the relationship between buyer habits and profitability
The bachelor’s degree is the primary degree for beginning a marketing career. The degree provides a comprehensive education in marketing and business principles; it’s no wonder a large percentage of entry-level marketing positions require it. Students can expect to take four years to complete the degree. In addition to general education and personal elective courses, students will usually find the following classes as a part of their bachelor’s degree marketing curriculum:
Students will learn how to sell almost anything effectively.
This course covers both macroeconomic and microeconomic theories to explain how the economy works.
This class provides an overview of various statistical methods and how they can be used in business.
Marketing degrees are generally focused on accomplishing two primary goals: Gaining leadership or management skills and knowledge, and obtaining education in specialized areas of marketing. There are several types of master’s degree available, such as a Master of Science (MS) in marketing or a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a marketing concentration. Either degree will help with professional advancement, though the MBA might be better suited for advancements involving management responsibility.
Most master’s level marketing programs allow significant curriculum tailoring to meet each student’s needs. Some of the core classes in a master’s level marketing degree program include:
Brand Management Students will learn various brand strategies ranging from brand creation to profiting more effectively from a brand.
Analysis of marketing in international markets.
The fundamental principles, theories and concepts of big data are taught in this class. Students will also learn how to implement big data practices to better reach out to consumers.
The Doctor of Philosophy is the highest educational training an individual can get in marketing. While it may be prestigious, it’s not for everyone. Many upper level leadership or management positions do not require a PhD degree. However, if an individual seeks to teach at the college level, or wants to focus on marketing research, a PhD makes sense.
Most PhD programs take between two and four years to complete, though some might take longer, depending upon the time necessary to complete the dissertation. Some courses found in many PhD programs include:
Students will receive an overview of quantitative methods used in marketing as well as conduct their own original research.
An overview of current and past research into consumer behavior will be provided in this course.
This courses looks at the psychological basis for human choices.
Even when the state of the economy fluctuates, the demand for marketing professionals often stays relatively steady. Companies have ongoing needs for marketing experts who can develop sales and advertising strategies, solve complex problems, and generate new ideas to promote products and services. While many marketing professionals obtain a degree in business with a marketing major, it’s not the only way into the field. For example, some larger companies and corporations offer exclusive marketing training programs for college graduates so they can gain hands-on experience in the field and grow with the company.
The many facets of marketing allow professionals to branch out into a number of different areas, developing specialized skills in areas such as publicity and public relations, market research, online marketing, advertising, and sales management. In 2014, a Forbes magazine article predicted digital marketing trends for 2015 and beyond, highlighting that traditional marketing channels will experience more overlap and that digital marketing will grow rapidly as it develops in conjunction with technology.
Public relations departments are in charge of managing communications with the media, consumers, and the public. Companies, non-profit organizations, government agencies and educational institutions must all handle public relations to some extent, with each organization’s unique needs dictating the focus and tasks of its public relations department. In general, individuals in these departments serve as spokespeople and liaisons, promote events or newsworthy developments, and generally work to ensure the company or organization maintains a positive image in the eyes of the public.
Market research analysts, managers, and directors are responsible for collecting information about the target market of a brand or product, and develop tools to analyze buyer behavior and forecast sales. They may be directly or indirectly involved in researching buyer preferences and behavior, conducting market research surveys or focus groups, and interpreting data for marketing teams and other departments.
Individuals with strong planning and communication skills can excel in a career as an advertising manager. Advertising managers are in charge of communicating with clients, mapping out advertising strategies and timelines, preparing advertising budgets, and negotiating contracts for media placement. They often travel to trade shows and conventions, and to meet with clients to negotiate contracts.
Brand managers are responsible for developing and maintaining the reputation and integrity of a brand, and for identifying new marketing opportunities that will serve to strengthen the brand. They analyze data provided by market research analysts and use such information to guide market research teams. When a company needs to develop a vision for a brand, or brainstorm ideas for a new ad campaign, they turn to a brand manager for creative input and plans.
Those who enjoy traveling, sales, and working in a fast-paced environment may thrive on the steady stream of phone calls, emails and meetings that characterize the workday of a media buyer. Media buyers are responsible for finding appropriate outlets that will provide maximum exposure to the target audience, placing ads, and negotiating advertising rates.
Individuals with strong planning, organization and communication skills can pursue a career as a meeting or event planner. These jobs encompass planning conferences, conventions and special events. Companies may hire event planners to coordinate trade shows and other company events, organize meetings, and identify and secure venues that are ideal to provide exposure for the organization or to generate sales. They may also be involved with negotiating contracts and reviewing event invoices and bills to approve payment.
Individuals interested in a leadership or executive position may excel as a chief marketing officer (CMO) of a company. These executives are in charge of coordinating all marketing, media, creative, advertising, and public relations activities, implementing a cohesive plan designed to propel the organization toward its sales objectives. They are creative and analytical in their approach and must have strong leadership skills to delegate tasks and projects to appropriate departments.
Planning events, managing store displays, and overseeing Internet advertising initiatives are just a few of the responsibilities that fall to a promotions manager. These individuals are responsible for coordinating events and activities related to generating sales and increasing revenue for the company. Promotions managers may be responsible for developing and implementing various types of marketing promotions and campaigns, hosting contests and sweepstakes, and organizing special events.
Sports marketing professionals have a solid professional background that spans economics, sports marketing strategies, and media advertising. In the high-intensity world of professional and collegiate sports, these account executives are responsible for securing ad placements and identifying and developing sponsorship opportunities. They may also work with leagues, teams, and individual players and their representatives to coordinate various marketing activities.
The field of digital marketing is growing rapidly as more companies are focusing their efforts on online advertising and e-sales. Digital marketing professionals have advanced knowledge and specialized skills in the areas of search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, content management, and web design.
Marketing professionals must have strong interpersonal and communication skills in order to negotiate contracts and work with clients, while leadership abilities are critical for those who are in charge of a marketing department or lead a creative team. Strong research and analytical skills allow them to organize market research data and provide insights about their findings. Also critical to success in this field are skills in organization, time management and persuasion, as well as creativity and imagination.
Professional credentials are also available for those who want to further their careers and be certified as specialists. The American Marketing Association recommends the Professional Certified Marketer (PCM) credential, which demonstrates that the individual stays current on best practices in the field. The Professional Researcher Certification (PRC) offered by the Marketing Research Association is designed for market research analysts. Those who wish to specialize in the area of public relations can earn a professional certification from the Public Relations Society of America.
Today’s marketers make use of a number of online tools and apps to keep track of projects, manage work flow, and streamline many sales and marketing tasks. Many use customer relationship management (CRM) tools to effectively manage leads and automate customer communications. Some of the most popular programs used in the industry today include:
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment of marketing managers is expected to grow 13 percent through 2022, about as fast as the average for all other occupations. The field of digital media marketing, especially, should take off as consumers get more comfortable with making online purchases, and use websites and social media to make buying decisions.
Jobs for those specializing in print ads or other forms of traditional advertising may be limited as consumer behavior changes with the explosion of the web-based economy. Advertising and promotions managers who once worked exclusively with print ads will need to adapt strategies that encompass digital media as consumers spend more time online. Those who can navigate the digital world and who gain an understanding of its possibilities will have the best job prospects in the upcoming decade.
Even though the field of marketing is diverse, most positions center around the core elements of communications, business strategy, and advertising. Some marketing professionals specialize in a certain area of marketing, such as content marketing or graphic design, while demand in the digital arena is expanding as consumers depend evermore on mobile devices and web-based technologies. Career paths that combine creativity, innovation, and digital technologies are emerging as some of the highest-paying jobs in the industry. Below is a look at salaries for three related occupations:
If you’re creative and driven, a career in a marketing related field may be a good option for you. Many related fields have lucrative salaries with positive outlook for job growth. The graph below demonstrates the information as well as the education and training required.
The AMA is a leading professional organization for marketing professionals. The AMA provides career, networking and educational resources to its members.
The BMA aims to assist business to business marketers to more effectively succeed at their job. The BMA provides various marketing tools and resources for its members.
The Chief Marketing Officer Council is an international professional organization designed for marketing executives.
The IMA is a leading Internet marketing group comprised of various marketing and business individuals. The IMA’s mission is to facilitate the sharing of information of marketing professionals.
SEMPO is the world’s largest nonprofit organization which focuses on helping search and digital marketing professionals maximize their potential.
The SMPS is a professional marketing organization devoted to facilitating business opportunities for the architect, engineer and contractor industries.