How to Begin a Career in Marketing
While the number of jobs in the marketing field will continue to increase over time, today’s marketing landscape does not guarantee that a recent marketing graduate will obtain an entry-level job in marketing. To say that there is a “conventional career path” to become a marketing executive would be a stretch, but there is a rough outline of what one could expect when climbing the career ladder.
The Marketing Career Path - Step 1 - Entry-level Job Titles for Marketing
Experience required: 0-2 years
Average Salary: 35-45K
Entry-level marketing job titles:
- Account Coordinator
- Social media coordinator
- Project coordinator
- Marketing coordinator
- Event marketing coordinator
- Event marketing specialist
- Marketing Specialist
For recent college graduates or those who do not have previous marketing experience, an entry-level marketing job is the best way to break into the industry. The tasks that entry-level marketing jobs require vary, but typically involve assisting with research, customer service, administrative tasks, and reporting to account executives, media planners, and/or client services managers.
Related: Can Anyone be a Marketer?
Once an entry-level employee demonstrates competence to perform basic tasks, more opportunities to expand the role usually happen. A possible next step could be assisting with the creative process, presenting reports and forecasts to company leadership/potential clients, or be put in charge of coordinating a special event or project.
Related: #JobSeeker Series
Entry-level marketing jobs may not be glamorous, but they lend a basic understanding of the inner workings of the business, while laying the groundwork for the soft skills that will be crucial for long-term career development
The Marketing Career Path - Step 2 - Marketing Manager
Experience required: 3-4 years
Average Salary: 50-65K
Other job titles:
- Advertising manager
- Public relations manager
- Promotions manager
- Brand manager
- Sales manager
- Social media manager
- Community manager
- Product marketing manager
The next logical step in the career path is marketing management. Marketing managers establish, maintain, and evaluate marketing strategies. This role requires an additional character trait of leadership, as marketing managers have to orchestrate the execution of the marketing strategy and establish processes, while nurturing entry-level employee growth.
The Marketing Career Path - Step 3 - Director of Marketing
Experience Required: 6-7 years
Average Salary: 75-85K
Other Job Titles:
- Director of Marketing Research
- Director of Advertising sales
- Director of Media
- Director of Public Relations
- Director of Marketing Analytics
The director of marketing focuses on the marketing strategy itself. After receiving research and reports from marketing managers that detail market conditions, customer data, and the competitor activities, marketing directors adjust the overall strategy with the aim of fulfilling business goals. Their goal is to increase purchase intention and excitement of the brand’s prospective customers.
The Marketing Career Path - Step 4 - VP of Marketing
Experience Required: 12-14 years
Average Salary: 90-110K
Other Job Titles:
- VP of Brand Development
- VP of Digital Marketing
The Vice President of Marketing role requires a mixture of leadership, technical, and business skills. Frequently acting as a spokesperson for the company, the VP of marketing is also required to work across departments within the company with the goal of bridging any gaps and strengthening the company’s products and/or services. In addition to promotional and team-oriented activities, the VP of marketing’s role might also include interviewing and hiring for major positions within the company.
The Marketing Career Path - Step 5 - Chief Marketing Officer
Experience required: 20+ years
Average Salary: 110-160K
The Chief Marketing Officer, or CMO, is the most senior marketing position. The modern-day CMO does not have a generic, one-size-fits-all background. They are responsible for heading all areas of marketing, including developing, planning, and overseeing the execution of all marketing initiatives. The CMO reports to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and is ultimately responsible for the ROI of marketing initiatives in the company.
While this is a useful outline of a conventional marketing career path, it is not comprehensive. There are many different kinds of marketers: brand marketers, cultural anthropologists, marketing technologists, agency marketers, marketing consultants, and many different job roles and responsibilities that fall under each category.
Unfortunately, understanding how to break into the marketing industry, the skills needed to be successful in marketing, and the entire marketing landscape can be difficult. One reason AgencySparks co-hosts SPARKsouth, an all-day digital conference, is to help aspiring marketers by answering questions and managing expectations. Conference attendees gain insight into what it takes to become a successful marketing professional.
Read about the latest SPARKSouth conference and watch the speaker videos here.