What Does a Career in Marketing Entail?
Are you interested in pursuing a career in marketing? If you enjoy generating public interest in products, services, or ideas, then this may be the perfect field for you. Marketing professionals are often responsible for advertising and promoting a company or organization’s ideals, as well as the items or services they provide. They often work with art directors, advertising sales agents, and financial staff members to plan promotional campaigns, negotiate contracts, evaluate website design and efficiency, develop pricing strategies, and meet with clients. Marketing specialists are also frequently in charge of conducting market research, analyzing the findings, and reporting them appropriately to management.
Business Degrees & Career Paths
Components of A Successful Career In "Marketing"
There are many components that need to be considered when you are looking at pursuing a career in marketing. Marketing in its raw form is to help impact the bottom line and increase revenue, while creating an exceptional customer experience. Successful marketing people can create a remarkable user experience by telling a story that answers what someone might be looking for in a logical way. What successful marketers need to know:
- Know the target audience
- Create valuable content that is attention getting
- Have a compelling offer or call to action
- Know how to promote and distribute the offer
- Follow up on potential new customers and leads
These are a 50,000 foot view on some of the components of having a successful career in Marketing.
How to Earn a Degree in Marketing
It is not difficult to find and enroll in a marketing degree program. That said, to be successful you will need to work hard. Keep the following steps in mind as you begin pursuing a career in marketing:
Develop and hone your interest in, and skills with, marketing by participating in related high school activities (graphic design, year book, etc.)
Determine what level of education you will need to reach your career goals (associate, undergraduate, or graduate)
Research possible college and university marketing programs
Create, request, and organize any needed application materials (entrance essay, reference letters, etc.)
Submit applications to your preferred programs (often your first, second, and third choices)
Decide which institution/program meets your objectives and will offer the best opportunities for future success
Enroll in courses that align with your specific interests and, if applicable, select the associated concentration
Graduate from your chosen college or university
What Can You Do With a Degree in Marketing?
A degree in marketing can prepare you for employment in a wide variety of industries. Almost every company and organization needs public relations, communication, and marketing specialists. This means the opportunities are nearly endless. Some of the most common marketing jobs include:
- Admission Representative
- Brand or Product Manager
- Event or Meeting Planner
- Marketing Assistant
- Market Research Analyst
- Media Planner
- Public Relations Representative
- Sales Representative
- Social Media Manager
- Account Executive
- Promotion Manager
- Production Manager
- Web Marketing Manager
- Digital Optimization Analyst
Typical Marketing Degree Requirements
While it is possible to find entry-level employment as a marketing professional with an associate degree, most employers expect candidates to have, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree in marketing or a related field. This is why most people who intend to pursue a career in marketing opt to enroll in a four-year undergraduate program.
Bachelor degrees usually consist of 120 credit hours of coursework that full-time students can complete within four years. After earning a bachelor degree in marketing, graduates can either enter the workforce or begin working toward a graduate degree.
Graduate degrees in marketing usually consist of 30 to 36 credit hours of coursework that can be completed within two years. A master of marketing degree is not required to find employment, but it does often give candidates an edge over the competition. Many employers give preference to individuals with a graduate-level education; this degree demonstrates dedication to the field and an in-depth understanding of basic and advanced marketing concepts. As a result, a master of marketing degree can lead to more employment opportunities and higher pay.
Typical Marketing Certifications Needed
Once you have completed your marketing degree, there are no specific certifications required to work professionally. There are, however, certification programs that can be extremely beneficial to your career. A few options include:
- Professional Certified Marketer: Marketing Management offered by the American Marketing Association (AMA)
- Professional Certified Marketer: Sales Management offered by the American Marketing Association (AMA)
- Professional Certified Marketer: Content Marketing offered by the American Marketing Association (AMA)
- Professional Certified Marketer: Digital Marketing offered by the American Marketing Association (AMA)
- Pragmatic Marketing Certification offered by Pragmatic Marketing
- Adobe Certified Expert (ACE) offered by Adobe
Academic Standards for a Marketing Degree
Every college and university is different, but most have some basic academic standards in common. Usually, admittance requirements include:
- High School Transcripts
- Application Fee
- College Admission Tests (ACT or SAT)
- Letter(s) of Recommendation
- Application Essay
- An Interview
It is important to keep in mind that GPA requirements, application fees, and test score minimums can vary significantly from institution to institution. You will need to thoroughly research these factors before selecting and applying to a college or university.
Exam / Experience Needed for a Marketing Degree
Most four-year colleges and universities require that program candidates take a college admission test prior to admittance. United States institutions accept either ACT or SAT scores, but each has its own minimum standards.
While the ACT and SAT are similar, there are several important differences that may impact which test you prefer to take. You will need to spend some time researching both exams. Carefully consider your personal strengths and select the one that best suits your preferences and testing style. It is also a good idea to confirm the minimum score requirements for the institution and the marketing program you intend to apply for.
If you are enrolling in a graduate marketing degree program, you will likely need to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). You should take time to find the minimum score requirements for your intended program before taking either of these exams.
Important Questions to Ask
How long does it take to earn a marketing bachelor’s degree online?
In most cases, it will take four years to complete a traditional bachelor’s degree in marketing and there isn’t much difference for distance learning programs. This is assuming you are able to attend the college or university full-time. Online degrees are often preferred by those who have scheduling conflicts due to work or personal responsibilities at home. If you are unable to attend full-time, completing your online program may take between five and eight years.
How much does a marketing bachelor’s degree cost?
The average in-state tuition at a four-year public institution was reported by the College Board’s Trends in Higher Education Series as $9,970 during the 2017-18 academic year. For private colleges and universities, it was $35,260. The actual out-of-pocket cost of attaining a marketing degree may be notably higher, however, due to additional fees, room and board, and textbooks. Conversely, scholarships and grants can decrease the amount owed.
The exact cost of a bachelor degree in marketing will vary. Determining factors include institution type, location, and residency status (in-state vs. out-of-state). Each college and university sets a tuition based on its operational expenses, so you will need to research each one individually. This information is usually available on the school’s website.
What does coursework look like for a marketing bachelor’s degree?
Specific course titles will vary from institution to institution, but most programs will cover similar course material. Common marketing degree topics include:
- Business-to-Business Marketing
- Consumer Behavior
- Global Marketing Techniques
- Marketing Research
- Corporate Finance
- Marketing Strategy and Management
- Product Management
- Retail and Sales Management
- Logistical Strategies
- Marketing Research
- Corporations and Financing
Does the school have the major(s) you are considering?
Most traditional colleges and universities offer a marketing degree or, at the very least, a business degree with a marketing concentration. This is not always the case, however. As a result, it is important to review the list of programs available before enrolling. If you know you want to major in marketing, always verify that the school in question can provide the educational opportunities you desire.
How many students graduate “on time,” or within four years?
Before you enroll in a marketing degree program, online or otherwise, you should find out how long it takes for most students to graduate. While most traditional colleges and universities offer four-year programs, some degrees are known to a longer period of time. You should also research the institution’s graduation rate, as well as the rate of employment afterward.
What kind of accreditation does the program hold? How it is regarded in the field?
While colleges and universities are not required to seek accreditation, most reputable ones do. Being accredited is a sign that the institution meets important academic standards. Institutions can seek accreditation from a number of international and regional agencies. The most prominent international accreditation organizations for business and marketing programs include:
- Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
- Accreditation Council for Collegiate Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)
- Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA)
- Distance Education and Training Council (DETC)
The AACSB is the gold standard. It does not, however, accredit many distance learning programs. DETC is the best alternative for those seeking an online degree in marketing.
Some colleges and universities opt to become accredited by a regional agency. In these cases, all of the institution’s programs meet certain regionally-accepted expectations. Graduates of a regionally accredited school will be able to find work in the area, but may have trouble if they move to another location. Regional accreditation organizations include:
- Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
- New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)
- North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCACS)
- Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS COC)
- Western Association of Schools and Colleges Accrediting Commission for Schools (WASC ACS)
Because their jobs are often multi-faceted, marketing professionals must develop and hone a number of important skills. Not only are they responsible for research and data management, they must also create alluring materials and communicate effectively. To accomplish these tasks, marketing professionals must also be familiar with a wide variety of software and technology. Some examples include:
- Google Analytics
An associate degree in marketing provides a basic introduction to the field and can prepare students for some entry-level positions. These programs usually consist of 60 credit hours of coursework and take two years to complete. After graduation, students may choose to transfer their credits to a four-year undergraduate institution or seek employment. This degree will generally qualify graduates for positions in professional sales, business promotion, and customer service.
- Advertising Campaigns
- Business Communications
- Marketing Applications
- Sales Promotions
- Social Media Marketing
While an associate degree may be enough to secure some entry-level positions, most professionals in the field choose to pursue a bachelor degree in marketing. This type of program generally consists of 120 credit hours of coursework and requires four years to complete. It may, however, take less time with transfer credits or more time for students who cannot attend school full-time. After graduation, students can choose to either join the workforce or enroll in a graduate program. This degree will generally qualify professionals for jobs as market research analysts, brand managers, and account managers.
- Advertising Research
- Media Planning
- Marketing Intelligence
- Personal Selling
- General Marketing
- Marketing Communications
- Personal Selling
- Business Marketing
- Product and Brand Management
A master’s degree is not required for marketing professionals, but many choose to pursue one anyway in order to have better job prospects. Common degree options include the Master of Business Administration in Marketing, the Master of Science in Communication, and the Master of Arts in Public Relations. Other graduate options may include marketing as a concentration, as well.
Most marketing graduate programs consist of 60 credit hours and require two years to complete. It may, however, take more or less time depending on transfer credits and personal scheduling restrictions. This degree will generally qualify professionals for more advanced positions in leadership, marketing research, account management, and sales. Graduates can also expect higher salaries, faster promotions, and more job security.
- Business-to-Business Marketing
- Brand Management
- Advertising Management
- International Advertising
- Advertising Strategies
|Degree Type||Public (In-State)||Private|
Earning Potential for Marketing Degree Fields and Occupations
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for advertising, promotions, and marketing managers in 2017 was $106,130. The median hourly wage in 2017 was $62.20. When compared to the median annual wage for all other jobs ($37,690), this is significantly higher. Remember, however, that every position is different and some will offer salaries that are better or worse than others.
Marketing Median Salaries by Field of Study
|Field of Study||Entry Level Median Annual Salary||Mid-Career Median Annual Salary|
Inbound marketing jobs generally focus on the use of internet content, such as blogging, SEO, and opt-in emails to organically attract new customers, generate leads, and/or drive sales. This work is extremely beneficial to many companies and organizations because it is usually far less expensive than other marketing tactics. Inbound marking also deals heavily with research; professionals in this field often spend significant amounts of time researching customer needs and habits, designing target-appropriate packaging, establishing pricing, and maintaining awareness of the competition
Outbound marketing jobs generally focus on the use of television commercials, radio ads, print advertisements, sales calls, and emails to attract new customers, generate leads, and/or drive sales. This work is usually more difficult to accurately track, costs more money to create, and produces fewer results. Inbound marking also deals heavily with social networking and online reputation management.
Direct marketing jobs generally focus on the use of direct contact with targeted consumers to generate leads and/or drive sales. Examples of this include telemarketing, sending individualized emails, sending postal communications, and utilizing targeted social networking. Professionals in this field work to optimize a company or organization’s marketing budget, increase sales with current clients, and test marketing results.
Social marketing jobs generally focus on the use of basic marketing principles and techniques to change a behavior, often for the betterment of a certain group or population. This work is usually intended to make the world a better place.
Marketing Salaries by Occupation
Within each of the marketing fields, there are many different occupations. Keep in mind that specific job titles can vary. Additionally, the level of education achieved can play a large role in determining which positions you qualify for and how much money you can earn while employed. Some popular marketing jobs include:
|Occupation||Entry Level Median Annual Salary||Mid-Career Median Annual Salary||Late Career Median Annual Salary|
|Advertising, Promotions, and||$93,590||$106,130||$141,900|
|Public Relations Specialists||$54,690||$59,300||$63,530|
|Customer Service Representatives||$25,980||$32,890||$42,040|
|Market Research Analysts||$60,800||$63,230||$73,070|
|Advertising Sales Agents||$37,260||$49,680||$56,200|
Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers
Marketing professionals who deal with advertising and promotions are responsible for generating client interest in a company or organization’s products, services, and/or events. They often plan promotional campaigns, negotiate advertising contracts, and provide marketing advice. These professionals are also frequently in charge of social media.
Public Relations and Fundraising
Marketing professionals who work in public relations and fundraising are responsible for planning, directing, and creating materials that are meant to maintain and enhance public image. They often write press releases and assist in promotional program development. These professionals also frequently help improve communication within and outside of the company or organization.
Market Research Analysts
Marketing professionals who are involved in market research are responsible for examining the potential sales of a new product or service. They often help a company or organization understand what customers want, monitor sales trends, gather data, analyze results using statistical software, and prepare reports for management. These professionals also frequently convert complex data into more easily understood formats.
Paying for a marketing degree can be difficult. Fortunately, there are many scholarship opportunities available to individuals interested in this career path. It is important, however, to realize that very few scholarships will offer enough financial assistance to pay for your cost of attendance each year. You should strongly consider applying for multiple types of financial aid. Some of the most popular marketing scholarships include:
The LAGRANT Foundation Scholarships
The LAGRANT Foundation (TLF) offers a total of 50 scholarships yearly to ethnic minorities. These awards vary based on education level; 30 undergraduate students can receive aid totaling $2,500 and 20 graduate students can receive aid totaling $3,750. These scholarships are intended for students attending a four-year college or university that is accredited and in the United States. Candidates must be majoring in marketing, advertising, or public relations.
Marketing EDGE Scholarship
The Marketing EDGE Scholarship program is administered by Marketing EDGE. The scholarship awards can range from $1,000 to $7,000. This award is based on a combination of academic performance and a demonstrated interest in marketing. Candidates must be enrolled in an undergraduate degree program, have participated in a Marketing EDGE program, and maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA.
Andy and Julia Plata Honorary Scholarship
The Andy and Julia Plata Honorary Scholarship is sponsored by the Electronic Document Scholarship Foundation. It consists of $2,000 in aid that is awarded to a single recipient. It is intended for a student who has an interest in the management and graphic communication industry.
New York Women in Communication Inc. Foundation Scholarship
The New York Women in Communications Scholarships are sponsored by the New York Women in Communication Foundation. Possible aid amounts include $2,500, $5,000, and $10,000. The organization awards between 15 and 20 graduating high school seniors, undergraduates, and graduate students who plan to pursue a communications career.
Professional Marketing Organizations
Many professionals seek to continue their development by joining a professional association. Fortunately, the marketing field has several great organizations to choose from. While the specific member benefits vary from group to group, some of the most common reasons for joining include access to additional resources, networking opportunities, continued education, and idea-sharing. Some of the most popular marketing organizations and associations include:
American Marketing Association (AMA)
The American Marketing Association (AMA) strives to bring marketing students and professionals together to share and enhance industry techniques, technology, and innovation. The association is made up of over 30,000 members, all of whom work, teach, or study marketing. AMA member benefits include access to quality training, the latest marketing tools, and peer networking opportunities.
Sales and Marketing Executives International (SMEI)
Sales and Marketing Executives International (SMEI) is the world’s only association dedicated solely to sale and marketing professionals. Members have access to an online forum, educational webinars, and peer networking opportunities. SMEI also offers several professional certification programs that are intended to establish a standard of credibility for the field.
Social Media Club (SMC)
The Social Media Club (SMC) is the largest community of social media professionals in the world. The organization offers six different membership types: professional, small business, corporate, non-profit, education, and blogger. Members are granted many benefits, including free or discounted attendance at SMC events, networking opportunities, job listing and placement assistance, research, and access to an exclusive social network.
National Association of Sales Professionals (NASP)
The National Association of Sales Professionals (NASP) is the largest online community of sales professionals in the world. The organization is comprised of individuals at every level who are serious about their careers. Membership is free and provides access to other like-minded professionals, a large influence base, and exclusive online training and certification programs.
If you believe that a career in marketing is the right choice for you, then the time to prepare is now. Start by taking advantage of marketing-related opportunities your school or current employer offers. You should also keep the following tips in mind as you begin looking for a college or university marketing program that aligns with both your personal and career goals.
Choosing an Accredited College
Choosing a college or university that has been properly accredited should be a priority. Institutions without either international or regional accreditation are not held to the same standards as those that are. As a result, it can be difficult to transfer credits from these schools or enroll in other higher education programs. Accreditation can even impact your salary. Some employers will not acknowledge a degree granted by an unaccredited institution and others will opt to pay those employees less.
Online vs. On-Campus vs. Hybrid Degree Programs
A traditional, four-year marketing degree earned by taking courses on-campus is not the only way to attain an education. While these programs are popular, they do not work for everyone. Individuals who are already working full-time or have other personal responsibilities at home may be unable to thrive in a setting like this. These students may find distance learning to be a reasonable alternative. Online marketing programs offer significantly more scheduling flexibility and do not require a physical presence on the institution’s campus. This option does, however, have one major drawback: there is very little opportunity to network with professors and peers. To remedy this, some colleges and universities now offer a hybrid marketing degree program. The majority of coursework is still completed online, but the school requires short residencies that take place on the campus. These provide students a great opportunity to ask questions in person, interact with peers, and network within the field.
Post-Graduate Job Placement Assistance
Some colleges and universities offer job placement assistance for current students and graduates. While it is impossible for the institution to guarantee employment, these programs do provide some very useful resources. At a minimum, most offer interview preparation assistance, resume creation training, and career coaching services. If you feel you could benefit from any of these amenities, look for a college or university that provides job placement assistance.