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How to Become a Marketing Manager

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What Is a Marketing Manager?

A marketing manager is responsible for determining how a company or brand should position and promote itself in the market within which it operates.

In this Article

Marketing is an industry with many specialties. It can be everything from crafting what a company's online presence looks like to its public relations and advertising, says Laurie Ehrlich, founder and chief strategist at Elevate Marketing Strategy.

"There are also more tactical elements, like planning, that really roll up into how are you stewarding the brand of an organization and how are you working to create brand awareness and communicate the mission of whatever the organization is—either commercial or nonprofit—and what are you doing to help the overall organization reach its goals," she says.

A marketing manager is responsible for determining how a company or brand should position and promote itself in the market within which it operates.

How to Start a Career in Marketing (6 Steps)

These steps can help you launch your marketing career and find your passion in this board field.

Choose the right program for you.

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The first step in starting a career in marketing is choosing the right school. One deciding factor could be your professional interests. For instance, if you want to become a social media maven, you may want to select a school that offers specialized courses in that specialty.

Marketing has a number of online programs you can enroll in to earn everything from an associate degree to a master's degree. You can complete some courses entirely online, while others may require trips to campus for in-person coursework or an in-person internship at a local business where you can acquire hands-on experience.

Choose your degree.

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In general, the higher the degree, the deeper the education you'll receive.

Associate Degree
An associate degree will offer a basic foundation in marketing and marketing principles.

• Time to complete: 2 years
• A good choice for people who want to get started in marketing but don't currently want to pursue a bachelor's degree

Bachelor's Degree
A bachelor's degree will offer a broader foundation in marketing and marketing principles, usually in more detail and more topics than an associate degree.

• Time to complete: 4 years
• Suitable for people who are committed to a career in marketing and have the time and finances to pursue a bachelor's degree.

Gain admissions to a program.

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Each marketing program will have its own prerequisites, but associate and bachelor's degree programs both require a high school diploma or GED. Depending on the program, a GPA of 3.0 or higher could also be required.

Complete your studies and graduate.

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Marketing courses will cover everything from how to run a social media account to ways to understand and find your audience and best practices for advertising to that audience.

Marketing majors in a business program also learn about business administration and other principles that apply to their work.

Coursework could include:

• Business-to-business (B2B) marketing
• Principles of finance
• Principles of marketing
• Marketing strategy
Product management
• Marketing Research
• Statistics
• Macroeconomics

Enter the job market. 

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Both an associate and bachelor's degree will set you up for an entry-level position in marketing. However, employers may potentially look more favorably upon graduates with a bachelor's degree because of their deeper education.

You'll commonly find roles for social media specialists, PR representatives, content writers, SEO specialists, and more. Marketing focuses a great deal on hands-on experience, so a college internship may help you boost your resume and land your job of choice following graduation.

Advance your career.

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When it comes to advancing your career as a marketing manager, experience counts for a lot, says Ehrlich, even more so than an advanced degree such as a master's in marketing or a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Marketing.

"HR professionals see between the lines," she says. "If you have that basic degree and you have the work experience and you've managed people—if that's what the job calls for—then you're just as capable as the person next door that might have an advanced degree."

That said, if you want to advance to the top of your profession as a chief marketing officer for a company or organization, or branch out into other corners of business, an MBA can provide the general business knowledge and skills you'll likely need to succeed as a top manager.

Finally, if you've carved a narrow path that you want to pursue, honing your specialty skills with certifications may help you advance. For instance, if you want to be a search engine optimization (SEO) expert, a marketing role that's in demand, marketing software and platform companies such as Moz, HubSpot, Semrush, Google, and Yoast offer SEO certifications. Many companies use one or more marketing platforms to reach potential clients.

Is Marketing Manager the Right Career for You?

In the broadest sense, marketing is promoting products and services. Success is measured by sales of your products and services, your share of the market, and a positive public perception of your brand.

With the arrival of digital marketing, the field of has exploded into many more marketing subspecialties, including social media marketing, email campaigns, and search engine optimization, just to name a few. All of these can be crucial to a company's success.

With the arrival of digital marketing, the field has exploded into many more marketing subspecialties, including social media marketing, email campaigns, and search engine optimization.

This means that as a marketing manager, you'll likely need to know a little bit of everything even if you want to specialize as an email manager or social media manager. Key qualities and skills that can help you succeed include:

  • Creativity
  • Versatility
  • Flexibility
  • Organization
  • Planning

How Long Does It Take to Become a Marketing Manager?

The time it takes to become a marketing manager will depend partly on which degree you choose. Work experience, how well you perform on the job, and your knack for managing work and staff also will play a significant role.

With a bachelor's degree, you'll enter the workforce with deeper knowledge and perhaps a better understanding of marketing and business in general. However, an associate degree can lay the groundwork necessary to get started in an entry-level position that could potentially have the same career trajectory as a bachelor's degree would provide.

In general, expect it to take anywhere from four to six years to qualify for a managerial role.

Job Outlook and Salary

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the annual median salary for marketing managers is $140,040, with the bottom 10% earning $76,790 and the top 25% earning $198,530. Salaries can vary widely based on where you work and your specialty.

But keep in mind that you'll likely start your career as a marketing specialist, an entry-level role that generally pays less. For instance, public relations specialists earn an annual median salary of $67,440, and marketing research analysts earn $68,230, according to the BLS.

Overall, the BLS expects employment of advertising, promotions, and marketing managers is projected to grow 6.6% through 2032, faster than average for all occupations.

Professional Resources

After you begin your career, professional resources can help you stay on top of your field. Ehrlich advises against signing up for everything you come across and instead suggests focusing on a few resources that pertain to your professional interests and you're able to follow closely.

Here's a sampling of marketing resources for some different interests:

emily price

Written and reported by:

Emily Price

Contributing Writer

With professional insight from:

Laurie Ehrlich

Founder of Elevate Marketing Strategy