Career Paths 101: Marketing


Introduction: Careers in the Marketing Industry

The marketing industry is huge and diverse.


Successful marketing campaigns require a dizzying combination of skill sets that few if any individual professionals possess to a high degree. These include: market analytics, data science, communications, public relations, social media, art, design, writing and editing, creative direction and production, strategy, branding, and partnerships, among others.



Breaking Into the Marketing Industry: Career Paths & Qualifications

Simply put, there is no one career path in the marketing industry. This diverse industry includes boutique agencies with no more than 10 employees, mid-size firms with marketing teams of two to three people, corporations with marketing departments of 30+ people, and huge, well-established firms that manage the biggest brands in the world and employ hundreds of people around the globe.


And within marketing every professional speciality, from data analytics and strategy to creative direction and social media, has a different career path.


Not sure what role is right for you? Consider scheduling a free 30 minute consultation and one of our career advisors.


Here are just four positions in the marketing industry, each requiring a very different set of skills — marketing data analyst, social media manager, marketing account manager, and creative director:



Marketing Data Analyst — Position Overview


These days, marketing is as much about spreadsheets as it is about creativity. (Not that you can’t be creative with spreadsheets, but you get the idea!)All of the best advertising agencies and marketing departments employ marketing data analysts to break down the data about their market, products, customers, and competitors in order to drive more effective campaigns.


Marketing data analysts are experts in quantitative and qualitative analysis. They are able to identify the most important statistics surrounding a firm’s customers and products. And most importantly, they are able to explain the meaning of those statistics to the marketing managers and creative directors who will use the data and insights to inform their marketing strategies.


Market data analysts generally work full time with regular 9am-5pm hours on weekdays.Marketing data analysts earn between $45,000 and $65,000 per year. The most successful and experienced analysts can make more than $75,000 per year.


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Marketing Data Analyst — Qualifications

For those interested in the data analytics side of marketing, a combination of degrees in data science and mathematics are a must. Securing an early internship at a marketing firm (or at a larger firm with a marketing department) will help new professionals demonstrate interest and experience in marketing-specific data analytics to potential employers.

And hiring managers are particularly impressed when applicants can show how their analytical insights directly resulted in a measurable increase in sales.



Social Media Manager — Position Overview

Larger firms or firms specializing in media or in markets that are heavily influenced by social media platforms employ dedicated managers to define their social media strategy and manage their company’s accounts across multiple platforms.

Specific responsibilities may include: posting content that is synchronized across platforms, curating and creating new content tuned to specific platforms, providing customer service through direct messaging and comments, gathering and analyzing usage data from multiple platforms, and defining the firm’s overall social media strategy through content.

In smaller firms, this role may be tied to a more general marketing and communication roles. At marketing firms, social media managers may function as account managers, handling social media responsibilities for one or more client companies.

Social media managers generally work full time. But they may work odd hours, since peak social media use often doesn’t correspond sync with the typical 9am-5pm work day. And they may be asked to work additional hours ahead of or as part of a major campaign.

Social media managers can earn anywhere from $20,000 per year for entry level roles, to between $30,000 and $40,000 per year for mid-level roles. The most experience managers at the largest firms may make up to $60,000 or more per year.

Career Paths 101

Social Media Manager — Qualifications

Social media managers should have a degree in marketing or communications and should be extremely active on a variety of social media platforms in their own lives.

Probably the best thing a would-be social media manager can do to secure a full-time job is to build accounts on one or more social media platforms that have a high number of highly engaged followers.

Even if they are personal or hobby accounts, this demonstrates the applicant’s ability to build a ‘brand’ from scratch and to consistently produce quality content that others are interested in.



Marketing Account Manager — Position Overview

Marketing firms work with many clients simultaneously. Each client — or potential client — is assigned an account manager who is often the first point of contact and will remain the primary point of contact between the client and the marketing firm. Account managers are the marketing firm’s closers.

Their job is to meet potential clients, offer a personal touch, and demonstrate a high level of customer service and marketing knowledge in order to close the deal and sign a new client, who they will continue to work with as the contract moves forward.

Account managers communicate with clients to better understand each client’s unique needs and to help craft a preliminary marketing strategy that appeals to the client both in terms of effectiveness and affordability. Account managers must also work closely with their firm’s creative, analytics, and strategy teams to build the client’s campaign.

Account managers work full time, often more than 40 hours a week.

Experienced account managers can earn as much as $70,000 to over $100,000 each year, depending on their firm’s location and prestige.


Marketing Account Manager — Qualifications

Marketing account managers should have degrees in business, communications, marketing, or a related field. The most important qualification is professional experience and a demonstrated ability to maintain strong relationships with high-value clients and stakeholders.

Marketing account managers, especially in large and prestigious firms with AAA clients, are high profile professionals. Mistakes can risk accounts worth millions of dollars to the firm, so in large firms only the most experienced professionals become account managers.

In smaller firms the less experience may be required, but the idea is the same. In firms with only a few clients, managing any one account is a significant responsibility.


Image Credit: What Is an Account Manager?


Creative Director — Position Overview

Creative direction is where creative professionals and business professionals meet. A creative director defines the look, feel, and attitude of their client or company’s marketing campaign. This includes art, design, writing, sound, etc. — any content that the firm will use to draw consumer attention to their products and brand.

Creative directors manage designers, artists, copywriters, and other creative professionals in order to create marketing materials that meet the requirements of the campaign’s overall strategy and that are ready for use by the firm’s marketers and sales teams.

Thus, creative directors need a good eye for art, design, and writing, as well as a head for business. They are responsible for making sure that content is delivered on time and that it is unique and striking, while aligning with the overall campaign vision.

Creative directors work full time, often more than 40 hours a week.

Experienced creative directors can earn more than $100,000 per year.


Creative Director — Qualifications

Creative directors are highly experienced professionals. It can take years or even decades to reach the highest levels in this role. Many creative directors will have started their careers as creative professionals (artists, designers, copywriters, etc.) and over time developed their business and communication skills as a complement to their artistic ability.

Conversely, management professionals who have a passion for art and design on the side, and who are able to demonstrate their credibility as an artist to creative professionals, can also find themselves moving from other management roles into creative direction.


What These Roles Have in Common

Regardless of speciality and of the size of the firm, many successful professionals working today in one of the above four roles started their careers as interns. Large firms have well-established internship programs with sophisticated application processes and deadlines.

Smaller firms often take on interns as well, and may offer more flexible timelines and application processes. Though internship opportunities are everywhere, these days, even these positions are competitive, particularly at the big-name agencies.

Consider signing up and receiving access to Shoo-In Career’s exclusive database of internship opportunities at a number of outstanding agencies.


Marketing: Industry Outlook


Career prospects throughout the marketing industry vary greatly. And even when the marketing industry is in a slump, many professionals — particularly those with creative and media backgrounds — can easily put their skills to use in other sectors.


Additionally, marketing firms work with firms in every industry, and even during an economic downturn, those industries that are doing well will continue to market their products.An excellent way to improve you own marketing career outlook is to identify what is hot and find a way to connect that to your own skills and experiences.
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Here are just three trends that aspiring professionals may want to look into. (Of course, since marketing is all about communication and tapping into the hottest new trends, many of these may seem obvious. And that’s the point! If it’s something new that everyone’s getting into, it’s probably a great place for marketers to look for new opportunities!)


People want things now — younger consumers even more so. Digital media platforms that allow for fast downloads and streaming services are growing rapidly. Social media platforms that deliver bite (or perhaps byte) -size content are eagerly looking for ways to monetize their huge user bases through advertising and marketing.


Niche Influencers.
The popularity of user-generated content platforms such as YouTube, Tumblr, and Twitch has created overnight celebrities with huge and loyal fanbases. Many of these influencers create content around niche subjects such as specific video games, hobbies, art forms, or categories of social commentary. Marketers who can identify the influencers who are interested in the same niche as their firm’s products can build relationships and reach exactly the audiences they are looking for.


Real-World Experiences.
Whether it’s augmented reality experiences like Pokemon Go or interactive physical platforms like escape rooms and thematic pop-up shops, consumers are increasingly looking for experiences that get them out of the house and interacting with each other in-person and on-the-go. A few companies have started to experiment with these new ‘platforms’. Young marketing professionals who want to be on the cutting edge should pay close attention to these experiments, since their success will inspire more firms to follow suit.


Marketing Firms

Marketing firms come in all shapes and sizes, from 100+ year old behemoths like BBDO, to boutique digital agencies who look and act more like tech startups than marketers. Here are just a few of the hottest agencies in the greater New York City area.


Big Spaceship


“Ambitious brands break the rules & test the limits. To help them do it, we seek opportunities at the cross-section where stories, systems, and communities overlap. This rich creative territory is where our teams and clients create the best work.” 



“Bowen is a web design company + strategic digital agency. We’re part of the digitally-fluent force that’s improving economies, shifting industries, and elevating businesses just like yours.”MKG

“Brands are people too. Or, at least they should strive to be more like us.”



“Digital advertising done well is more meaningful and more effective. We help some of the world’s top brands earn relevant connections with their customers.”


Blue Fountain Media

“Website Design. Digital Marketing & Mobile Apps with Stunning Results. We’re a digital agency focused on creative and results-driven solutions.”




The Halo Group


“Brands are like people. When someone truly loves their work, they shine. They radiate purpose and people are drawn toward that energy. Halo is a full-service branding and marketing communications agency that helps clients discover their true voice and purpose to inspire audiences around the world.”


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