January 11, 2019 ABCOtoGO staff

Pursuing a Career in Marketing

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.


Steps to Pursuing a Marketing Degree & Career

Diving into a marketing career can begin as early as high school. Here’s what to expect from the educational and professional journey.


Complete high school

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.


Obtain a bachelor’s degree

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.


Complete a marketing internship

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.


Gain work experience

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.


Obtain a graduate degree if needed

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.

Preparing for Marketing Careers with Marketing Degrees

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.

Find the Right Marketing Degree Program

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. X
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. X
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. X
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. X
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. X
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. X

Marketing Degree Levels

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.

Certificate in Marketing

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:

Advanced Marketing Strategies

Students will learn advanced methods for identifying consumer trends and helping businesses take advantage of those trends.

Skills Gained

  • Ability to identify consumer needs and wants.
  • Knowledge of how consumers think
  • Recognition of which marketing strategies are suited for particular business needs

Management in Marketing

Students will be taught how to make effective strategic decisions in order to profitably implement marketing plans.

Skills Gained

  • Familiarity with market-oriented strategic planning
  • Proper use of Internet and social media marketing
  • Design and implementation of sales promotions

Multicultural Marketing

How to most effectively market to consumers from various cultures.

Skills Gained

  • 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.

Associate Degree in Marketing

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:

Introduction to Marketing

The fundamental and foundational concepts and methods in marketing are presented in this class.

Skills Gained

  • Application of marketing strategies to achieve business goals
  • Familiarity with marketing research methods
  • Understanding of consumer behavior

Principles of Retailing

The overall business practices of a retail business are explained in this course.

Skills Gained

  • Use of retail management techniques
  • Understanding multichannel retailing
  • How to maintain and improve vendor relationships

Buyer Behavior

Students will learn about psychological, cultural and other factors that affect consumer buying habits.

Skills Gained

  • Ability to take advantage of buyer patterns to improve sales
  • How buyer characteristics affect purchases
  • Familiarity with the relationship between buyer habits and profitability

Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing

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:

Professional Selling

Students will learn how to sell almost anything effectively.

Skills Gained

  • Implementation of selling strategies to particular buyers
  • Knowing how to create customer relationships
  • How to effectively close the sale

Introduction to Economics

This course covers both macroeconomic and microeconomic theories to explain how the economy works.

Skills Gained

  • Interpretation of various supply-demand curves
  • Knowledge about the relationship between unemployment, tax rates and gross domestic product
  • How to measure overall economic wellbeing

Statistics in Business

This class provides an overview of various statistical methods and how they can be used in business.

Skills Gained

  • Application of inferential and descriptive statistics to particular issues
  • Knowledge about probability distributions
  • Understanding how to utilize correlation, regression and hypothesis testing

Master’s Degree in Marketing

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

Brand Management Students will learn various brand strategies ranging from brand creation to profiting more effectively from a brand.

Skills Gained

  • Assessing the effectives and value of a particular brand
  • Ability to create and take advantage of a new brand
  • Familiarity with commonly faced branding decisions

International Marketing

Analysis of marketing in international markets.

Skills Gained

  • Understanding the differences between marketing in the United States and abroad
  • Knowing how to handle cultural and ethical issues when marketing internationally
  • Identification of fundamental issues key to marketing successfully overseas

Big Data

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.

Skills Gained

  • Understanding the various big data technologies and methods
  • Knowing how to analyze information gleaned from big data
  • Create prediction models to anticipate consumer behavior

PhD Degree in Marketing

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:

Quantitative Marketing

Students will receive an overview of quantitative methods used in marketing as well as conduct their own original research.

Skills Gained

  • Familiarity with existing quantitative research theories and data
  • How to design and conduct original quantitative marketing research
  • Ability to design a study to answer a particular marketing question

Consumer Behavior Research

An overview of current and past research into consumer behavior will be provided in this course.

Skills Gained

  • Understanding of established consumer behavioral theories
  • Knowledge of consumer emotions, objectives and mindset
  • Techniques and methods for conducting consumer behavior research

Decision Making Behavior

This courses looks at the psychological basis for human choices.

Skills Gained

  • Application of psychological concepts to understanding consumer behavior
  • Knowing the underlying motivations of particular consumer choices
  • Identification of various psychological principles such as heuristics, bias and context and how they apply to judgment decisions

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