What level of education do you need for a successful marketing career?

Most marketers aren’t going to make it big in the field without a solid education.

graduation cap with diploma stacked on books
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Online marketing is becoming an ever-increasing chunk of business, and the specialty of marketing in particular has exploded with demand for dedicated digital marketers. This is one career that promises long-term employment, solid benefits, and exciting opportunities for personal growth.

But most marketers aren’t going to make it big in the field without a solid education. Marketing manager or a related position is a high-paying job that can offer exciting daily opportunities.

The median pay is $60,300 for market research analysis, and a salary of more than $140,000 per year for professionals in advertising, promotions and marketing management. It’s also a fast-growing field with a predicted growth rate of 32 percent by 2022.

This suggests that finding a job after school is not likely to be difficult. Though a bachelor’s degree or higher is sometimes unnecessary for a career in marketing, it can certainly be a major benefit.

Job seekers who get a degree in some facet of marketing tend to make considerably more than those who don’t. They also enter higher bracket positions more quickly and enjoy more opportunities within the company.

If you’re pursuing a dream career in marketing, a high level of education can provide a powerful foundation. Here are some considerations if you take that route.

Passing admissions tests

A great education starts with plenty of preparation. First, you’ll need to take the appropriate tests, such as the SAT, ACT, GRE, and/or GMAT. These are standardized tests designed to determine your general readiness for higher education.

The best marketing programs will require your scores to be above average for admittance. Because the exams are comprehensive and cover a wide array of topics, you’ll likely want to enroll in a study prep course so you can achieve scores that are high enough to qualify for your preferred program.

Available degree programs

Degree options vary by the level of education obtained. The most common degree options include:

Associate programs

  • Business Administration with a marketing emphasis

  • Business Administration with a sales emphasis

Bachelor programs

  • Marketing management

  • Digital marketing

  • Marketing

  • Business administration with a marketing emphasis

  • Market research analysis

Master programs

  • Master of Business Administration in marketing

  • General Master of Business Administration (MBA)

  • Master of Science in media management

The title and requirements of each will vary depending on your college’s structure, but these are the basic programs covered in formal education. As you can see, not all degrees have marketing in the title, and most include general business knowledge. That’s because if you understand business, it’s a lot easier to grasp marketing principles.

There are also a number of certification programs you may want to look into, either in place of a degree or as a supplement to it. Professionals who have only certificates make significantly less than those with a degree, however.

Highest level of education available

The highest level of formal education for a marketing career is a doctorate. If you get your Ph.D. in a marketing field, you’ll end up in a highly specialized niche, such as color psychology or real-time data analysis.

Although Ph.D. programs are available for marketers, they’re rare, and the majority of marketers finish their schooling with a master’s. That’s because you can learn a lot more on the job than in a classroom.

Professionals in the field who desire to spend the rest of their lives practicing actual marketing rather than teaching or conducting research tend to conclude it’s not worth the additional expense to obtain a Ph.D.

Internships

Education is important, but did you know that internships are equally important? This is because experience in the field gives you knowledge you could never find in the classroom. Furthermore, internships allow you to take what you’ve learned and apply the experience to your career.

Though an internship with a high profile company can lead to a permanent position, that doesn’t mean an internship with a lower level company is any less useful. In some cases, it can actually be more valuable. This kind of internship allows you to work more closely with top executives, build invaluable skills, and improve your resume.

If you accept an internship, you’ll find the most value in asking the right questions and chasing your hunger for knowledge. The more involved you become with your internship, the more you’ll learn and experience.

Interns tend to get a bad rap in their chosen field, but if you spend your time taking ownership of the experience rather than running for coffee, you’ll find that you’ll be far more prepared to take on bigger projects in the future. If you show your internship superiors that you’re intelligent, tough, and capable, they’re more likely to hire you when the internship comes to a close.

Overall, getting a formal marketing education can prove invaluable for success. Once you’ve completed your program, any necessary certifications, and perhaps an internship, you’ll be well on your way to developing a successful career.  

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