If someone were to ask you, “Do you know what marketing is?” you’d probably say yes, right?
But when asked to define marketing, you might struggle. That’s okay — I would, too.
Marketing is a seemingly simple concept on the surface, but it becomes more complex as you break it down. What do marketers do every day? How has technology expanded the marketing field? How do you land a marketing role, and how do you excel within one? Can you switch between marketing fields?
Let me be the first to tell you that marketing is fun. Marketing a company is essentially grabbing a bullhorn and saying, “Hey! We love this company, and here’s why you should, too!” Marketing is also an incredibly dynamic, diverse field that offers positions for people of all strengths. Whether you’re equipped with creative ability or analytical prowess, marketing’s got a spot for you.
In this article, we’ll break down what marketers do, how you can get into the marketing field, and the different marketing jobs that are available in today’s economy. By the end, you’ll be able to map out your budding marketing career and pinpoint your goals. Let’s get started!
What does a marketer do?
Marketers are responsible for promoting a company and the product and services it sells. People who work in marketing typically organize and implement both inbound and outbound promotional campaigns that raise awareness of a brand and use marketing tactics to convince consumers to make a purchase from a company.
According to Merriam-Webster, marketing is “the process or technique of promoting, selling, and distributing a product or service.” But the job involves much, much more than that.
The day-to-day activities of a marketer depend on what they’re marketing, whom they’re targeting, and what platforms they use to promote products or services. There are too many marketing roles and functions to provide a single definition applicable to everyone in this field.
Before we dive into the various positions you can find within a marketing department, let’s discuss tools and education necessary to become a marketer.
What You Need to Be a Marketer
There’s not a single, definitive path to any job field. Marketing is comprised of people with all kinds of backgrounds — journalism, psychology, and more. I’ve mapped out a career path as it’s the most straightforward way to jump into a marketing job. Later in this article, I’ll dive into how to get a marketing job.
If you’re serious about a long-term marketing career primed for growth and variety, a bachelor’s degree is the way to go. Four-year programs teach you the skills and competencies needed to join and excel in the competitive, fast-paced landscape that is the marketing world, including public speaking, creative problem-solving, logistics, sales, and analytics.
The following degree programs can lead to a career in marketing:
- Public Relations
Nowadays, it doesn’t matter as much what you major in as it does where you go to school or what you get involved in. Organizations like the American Marketing Association, National Association of Sales Professionals, or Pi Sigma Epsilon (a co-ed marketing fraternity) can help you get connected outside the classroom and off-campus.
Some marketers choose to extend (or return to) their schooling by pursuing a Master of Business Administration (MBA) or graduate degree in marketing. Both programs offer in-depth studies of marketing, but they differ in education specifics and structure. MBA programs focus on the humanity of business, such as people management, organizational behavior, and leadership. Graduate marketing programs study consumer behavior, changes in the domestic and international marketplace, and growing digital trends.
These programs can be combined, of course, but their cost and completion time can be an issue for most students. While we can’t tell you if graduate school is the right choice for you, we can encourage you to research your options for career success. Here’s a great quiz by The Princeton Review to help you better understand if an MBA or master’s program is for you.
Internships and Co-ops
While a degree (or three) may not be in the cards for you, an internship or co-op most certainly should. There’s no better education than real-life experience, and internships allow you to learn on the go while you’re still learning in the classroom.
Marketing internships are valuable because they help you determine what kind of marketing you want to do. Do you like the creative side of marketing, or do you like working with numbers and analytics? Does promoting a single product excite you, or would you prefer to work on overall brand awareness? Marketing departments are made up of lots of moving parts, and internships and co-ops help you determine exactly which projects and promotions you’d like to join.
Lastly, internships are valuable currency in today’s job market. Think about it: Thousands of students graduate each year and enter the workforce. That’s not even considering how many workers are changing their minds and careers to pursuing marketing jobs. With some real-life experience under your belt, you automatically become a highly desirable candidate to employers. Some internships can lead to full-time jobs, too!
Many educational institutions offer internships through their business or communications departments, so if you’re still in college, start there. Universities worldwide hold valuable relationships with local businesses that will hire students while still in school.
If going through your college or university isn’t an option, sites like WayUp and Internships.com can help you find open positions. Idealist is an internship site that focuses on non-profit roles, and Global Experiences helps you find international opportunities. And, of course, you can always find open internships through LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and Indeed.
Skills and Aptitudes
Surgeons possess incredible patience and stability, psychologists are fantastic listeners, and chefs have an excellent memory. Like any other professional role, great marketers tend to carry a particular set of skills. These can be skills you’re born with or skills you develop and fine-tune through schooling and real-life practice.
Either way, the following skills and aptitudes are typically required to excel in any marketing role:
- Creativity. Whether you’re writing a business plan or a campaign brief, being able to creatively spell out your vision is a must in the marketing field. In today’s world, grabbing consumers’ attention isn’t very easy. Marketers have to constantly think up new ways to attract their audience and entice them to make a purchase — great marketers are creative.
- Problem-solving. Imagine the conundrum marketers faced when DVR was released and commercials became futile. What about the overwhelming switch to mobile versus desktop? These trends in the marketplace forever changed the way businesses sold to us, and marketers were on the front lines of those shifts, huddling and figuring out to how to solve new problems that came their way. Great marketers are problem-solvers.
- Passion for numbers. Even the most right-brained marketers have a passion for numbers and ROI. How else do companies know that their promotional efforts are working? Whether they’re tracking retweets, click-throughs, or video views, marketers live and breathe metrics. Great marketers are analytical so they can prove the value of their work.
- Curiosity. The marketing landscape is ever-changing, and opportunities arise every day for businesses to promote their products in new and exciting ways. But marketers wouldn’t be able to seize these opportunities if they don’t continually ask, “What if?” Great marketers stay curious and are lifelong learners.
Now that you know what’s recommended (if not required) to thrive in a marketing role, let’s take a look at the job market for marketers. How many people are looking for marketing jobs, and what companies are looking for them? Is there room for growth and innovation?
The Marketing Job Market
According to Monster, marketing jobs are expected to grow 8% from 2018 to 2028 — a faster rate than average for all other jobs, and likely not stopping anytime soon.
Marketing and promotional campaigns are essential to every company, regardless of industry, as organizations seek to grow and maintain their market share.
That’s why marketing jobs are available at all kinds of organizations — large firms, startups, small businesses, and non-profits. But there are cities that have more opportunities than others, mostly due to size and population. This article from USA Today compiles a list of the top 10 cities for marketing jobs based on open listings and salary trends.
Do some companies offer better marketing jobs than others? No, not really. But there are some companies that excel at different types of marketing and offer opportunities for different kinds of employees.
Here are a few collections of top companies for marketers, based on a variety of factors:
- 10 companies hiring marketers right now (Forbes)
- 10 companies that pay marketers really well (Forbes)
- 10 companies that are defining innovation in marketing (Fast Company)
- 15 companies deemed the best places for UK marketers to work (Marketing Week)
- 25 of the best companies for content marketers (IZEA)
- 15 agencies that excel in social media marketing (The Manifest)
- 5 companies revolutionizing marketing analytics (Forbes)
- 7 companies hiring remote marketers (FlexJobs)
Today’s job market is thriving, and there’s more opportunity than ever to dip your toe into the proverbial marketing waters. But what are these specific opportunities, you ask? Below we’ll break down the various marketing jobs and marketing career paths available.
Marketing Jobs and Careers
Any given marketing department is made up of a variety of positions, projects, and goals. The difference between these roles can be minute or major — it all depends on what medium they’re working with, what they’re promoting, and who they’re promoting to.
Digital marketing refers to marketing through digital channels like search engines, websites, email, and mobile apps. In the last 30 years, the rise of the internet, smartphones, and big data has completely changed the way companies market and promote their products and services … and, in turn, created many new marketing careers.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) / Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Specialist
Search engine optimization refers to organically optimizing web content to be indexed by search engines and easily found by your audience. Search engine marketing is paying for advertising space on said search engines. SEO, SEM, and their ever-changing trends have become such an influential part of online marketing that people are specializing in it — and companies are hiring for it, too.
The responsibilities of an SEO specialist include improving the ranking of a website on a search engine results page (SERP), conducting keyword research, making technical SEO recommendations and designing the site architecture, and analyzing and applying metrics on website and keyword performance. The responsibilities of an SEM specialist include leveraging search engines like Google and Bing to increase website visits, conversions, and revenue through paid advertisements.
The skills and qualifications required of both SEO and SEM specialists include experience interpreting and applying analytics, the ability to manage and allocate a marketing budget, the ability to read and apply website and search analytics, proficiency in Google AdWords and Google Analytics, and knowledge of search engine trends and news.
Email as a marketing medium may seem more traditional, but its effect is far from dead. Email marketing utilizes a single channel to reach current and potential customers through creatively-written emails and digital promotions.
The responsibilities of an email marketer include creating emails that recipients not only open but also engage with, increasing revenue and sales through digital marketing, growing and segmenting email lists, and reading and analyzing data to optimize promotions and open rates.
The skills and qualifications required of email marketers include proficiency in email marketing and tracking programs, excellent creative communication and design skills, HTML, and data analysis and interpretation.
Email marketers make between $40,000 and $69,000.
Growth marketing (or hacking) is a relatively new term and refers to marketing that targets the entire funnel — not just the top few tiers. Growth marketing takes into account the fact that retention is a major factor of growth and therefore prioritizes both customer success and customer acquisition.
Growth marketers work with a variety of media and teams, including but not limited to SEO and SEM, social media, PR, and email. Because of this, the responsibilities of growth marketers can range from A/B testing to conversion funnel optimization to content creation and user experience design.
The skills and qualifications required of growth marketers include innovative and creative mindsets, quantitative and qualitative problem-solving skills, knowledge of a variety of digital marketing systems, and experience interpreting and applying data.
Growth marketers make between $46,000 and $146,000.
Content marketing, since it’s mainly executed online, could be considered a segment of digital marketing. But the career path has become so impactful that we believe it deserves its own section.
Content like blogs, ebooks, white papers, and guides are critical components of a solid inbound marketing strategy, and content marketers are the people who create them. Content marketing refers to marketing via long-form content, websites, blogs, and even audio and video content.
The responsibilities of a content marketer include strategizing and executing content creation and delivery, tracking metrics that influence content strategy, and managing a team of writers, designers, and strategists.
The skills and qualifications required of a content marketer include strong writing and editing skills, proficiency with content creation and management tools, project management, and experience in online audience growth.
Content marketers make between $36,000 and $81,000.
Graphic design is a subset of content marketing that focuses more on the visual appeal of web and print content. Graphic designers typically work on website design, ad designs, and any graphics or images used in marketing or promotions.
The responsibilities of a graphic designer include creating any visuals used in marketing materials or campaigns, both print and digital. Some graphic designers work on corporate identity and establish how a company will visually communicate its overall message and brand.
The skills and qualifications required of graphic designers include proficiency in graphic design programs like Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, knowledge of design elements, excellent verbal and visual communication skills, and experience creating visual art for marketing purposes.
Graphic designers make between $33,000 and $63,000.
Social Media Marketer
Social media marketing is another new marketing avenue that’s paved the way for its own specialists and experts. Social media marketing is leveraging social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to promote a company and its products and services as well as connect with its audience in new and authentic ways.
The responsibilities of social media marketers include managing a company’s social presence, monitoring online conversation, organizing customer service through social media, creating content for social channels, and staying up-to-date on social media trends and news.
The skills and qualifications required of a social media marketer include excellent verbal and digital communication skills, a creative and innovative approach to digital marketing, proficiency in all social channels, and experience in public relations or public brand management.
Social media marketers make between $35,000 and $81,000.
Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) Specialist
The main goal of content marketing is to use content to educate, interest, and convert readers into customers. But content can’t always do that on its own. That’s where CRO specialists come into play.
CRO specialists focus on optimizing websites, user flows, and content offers to drive the most conversions — whether a conversion means making a sale, securing a lead, or getting a subscriber. The responsibilities of a CRO marketer include auditing content to measure effectiveness and ROI, influencing content creation to ensure impact, measuring how visitors and readers interact with your content, and using this data to optimize for improved performance.
The skills and qualifications required of CRO specialists include experience auditing and creating digital content, ability to A/B test and measure content impact, and proficiency in online content platforms and analysis tools.
CRO specialists make between $32,000 and $130,000.
Product marketing is all about setting the tone for how, where, when, and why a company’s products and services are promoted. Product marketers are typically assigned to one product or product line and act as chief advocate and strategist for that product.
The responsibilities of a product marketer include determining overall messaging and positioning of the product, mapping the buyer’s journey to purchase the product, and collaborating with the product creators, designers, and other marketers.
The skills and qualifications required of product marketers include excellent verbal and written communication skills, collaborative working style, prior experience strategizing and analyzing marketing campaigns, and competitive intelligence skills.
Product marketers make between $58,000 and $129,000.
In today’s economy, a company’s brand plays a major role in how consumers shop. In fact, 59% of shoppers would rather buy from brands they know, and 21% have purchased products solely because they like the brand itself. This budding consumer behavior has paved the way for roles in brand management and public relations.
The responsibilities of a public relations (PR) manager or brand marketer include creating and maintaining a company’s public image, working with other teams to ensure content and messaging is consistent, and crafting campaigns to promote and boost brand awareness.
The skills and qualifications required of a PR manager or brand marketer include excellent written and verbal communication skills, experience with brand and crisis management, proficiency with email and social media marketing, and ability to manage projects and people.
Company-run events are a popular way to interact with and entertain potential customers and clients. Events bring together your community, delight your customers, and put a friendly face to a brand name — especially for B2B marketers. For this reason, companies need event marketers.
The responsibilities of an event marketer/manager include organizing and promoting events, creating messaging, designing and organizing marketing campaigns, connecting with audience members, and managing a team of marketers.]
The skills and qualifications required of event marketers/managers include excellent digital and written communication skills, willingness to work under pressure and on deadlines, and high-level negotiation and organizational skills.
Event marketers make between $37,000 and $77,000.
In the marketing world, numbers are king. No other factor has the power to shift campaigns, change budgets, hire and fire employees, and draw investors.
Marketing analysis is a unique role. While most companies hire internal analysts, third-party consultants and agencies also exist to help businesses interpret and apply data findings. Regardless of whom they work for, data scientists — specifically marketing analysts — read and interpret digital data to help businesses and marketing departments make better business decisions.
The responsibilities of a marketing analyst include using data to influence campaign impact, allocate funds, determine how to design and optimize a website, set the prices of products and services and much, much more. Analysts also identify new opportunities and initiatives as well as develop metrics, benchmarks, and standards for future performance.
The skills and qualifications required of a marketing analyst include data analysis and management, fluency with programs like Microsoft Excel, SPSS Statistics, and SAS, and knowledge and experience with trends in big data.
Marketing analysts make between $40,000 and $79,000.
Clearly, there’s no deficit of marketing jobs. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a highly competitive field. With ever-changing trends and ever-changing consumers, marketers must be at the top of their game when applying to and thriving within their roles. Next, we’ll dive into how to find, apply for, and get a marketing job in your chosen field.
How to Get a Marketing Job
Getting a marketing job might be complicated, but it’s not impossible. There are a few things you can do to ensure you’re applying for the right jobs and promoting the best version of yourself in the process.
Figure out what type of role you want.
Before opening a job application, you must figure out what type of marketing job you want. As we explained above, there are plenty of marketing jobs available — and we hardly scratched the surface.
Do yourself (and your potential employers) a favor and perform some self-analysis before deciding which jobs to pursue. Review the jobs we’ve described above and research others that spark your interest. Take a look at how marketing impacts your day-to-day life and see which components intrigue you.
Do you find yourself gravitating towards the creative parts of marketing, or are you excited by the analytical side? Both play an important role in marketing, but the jobs for each will differ.
Make a list of what you’d like to do in your role. If I were building a list of “wants,” I’d say:
- I like writing and telling stories.
- I like research.
- I like working with analytics only to help me create better content.
- I like working with a team.
Determining what kind of marketing jobs interest you will give you much more clarity in your job search and will help you decipher which specific roles best match your interests and skills.
Find jobs matching your interests.
There are a few ways to go about finding marketing jobs. First, throw your search query in Google. If you’ve decided you’d like to design marketing materials for a company, search “marketing design jobs” or “graphic design marketing jobs” and see what comes up.
Second, check out job board sites like Indeed, Glassdoor, and SimplyHired. These sites aggregate available jobs and make it easy to set filters for salary, location, company size, and more. They also include suggested jobs in the search results so you can easily discover related roles.
Lastly, check out available jobs on company websites. If you’ve discovered a few companies for which you’d love to work, go to their websites directly and see what kind of roles they have listed.
Also, some roles might have different names at different companies and might not come up in common search results on job boards. For example, a “blogger” at one company might be referred to as a “content creator” at another.
Review job descriptions.
Once you’ve found a few open jobs to which you’d like to apply, take a close look at the job descriptions. This is when you’ll compare your list of “likes” from earlier to the terms in the job descriptions.
From my list above, I’d look for words like “writing,” “editing,” “content creation,” “research,” and more. This process will help you find the best-fit roles, which will, in turn, increase the likelihood of securing an interview — and the job.
Outside of a job application, cover letter, and interview, there are other ways to boost your chances as an applicant. As a marketing candidate, you must be able to market yourself. In fact, your “marketability” speaks volumes to companies and managers, sometimes more so than your application material.
As you search for and apply to jobs, make sure your digital presence is spotless. Review your LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social channels and ensure they all promote the same message and self-image. Google your own name and make sure all results reflect positively on you.
Also, depending on what role(s) you’re pursuing, consider creating a portfolio or sample of your marketing chops. If you’d like to find a position in social media, create some sample posts to include in your application. If you’re pursuing a public relations role, build a contingency plan to discuss in your interview. These steps will help you stand out from the crowd of marketing applicants and will skyrocket your chances of landing the job.
Marketing Job Resources
You don’t have to pursue a marketing job on your own. Looking for some resources to help you better understand specific marketing components or brush up on your skills? Check out the tools and materials below. Bonus: Some of these certifications can make you a more desirable marketing candidate, too!
Courses and Communities
- HubSpot’s free inbound marketing course and certification
- Hootsuite’s free social media training and paid certification course
- Google’s free Analytics Academy
- Udemy’s SEO training course by Moz
For a carefully curated list of marketing books, check out our recent blog post.
Over to You
Marketing is an asset that’s in every company’s toolbelt. For that reason, the career path isn’t going away anytime soon… but it is becoming a more competitive and complex industry.
Between the influx of digital trends and the variety of available roles, you can no longer simply apply to be a “marketer.” To score a marketing job, you must define which specific positions you’d like, acquire the necessary skills and qualifications, and strategically pursue the role.
Thankfully, marketing remains one of the most dynamic and diverse fields. Whether you’re equipped with creative ability or analytical prowess, there’s a job for you.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in August 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
Originally published Oct 19, 2020 7:00:00 AM, updated March 17 2022