Marketing Jobs – A Comprehensive Guide to Jobs in the Marketing Industry

Marketing team in planning process

In a sense, we’re all marketers. Whether you’re good or bad at it, life is an ongoing process of establishing a personal brand that you hope will attract employers, friends, promotions, and spouses. You’re an influencer from birth, whether it’s convincing mom you deserve that extra cookie to getting that hot date to the prom.

Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large. ~ The official American Marketing Association definition of marketing

And because marketing is such a universal part of the human experience, it’s no surprise that marketing as a profession can benefit enormously from a humanities-focused education. When people are your audience, there’s no level of detail that is too small to ignore. Any kind of knowledge of human nature and psychology is fair game for marketing.

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The paths into marketing from liberal studies aren’t direct, however. For that matter, the paths into marketing even from marketing degrees aren’t all that direct! It’s a profession where making the right contacts and proving your real-world skills are king. So you definitely need a guide for how to get marketing jobs of every description.

Marketing Job Descriptions Focus On Subjects That All Liberal Arts Graduates Have Mastered

What is a marketing job, anyway? As you will see, the variety of different marking and communication jobs out there is just mind-blowing. The specifics of each of those different kinds of positions can be just as varied. A social media marketing job description will involve spending a lot of the day on Instagram and Twitter, not just posting content but also rapidly responding to comments and customer inquiries. A product marketing manager job description, on the other hand, might take a more strategic turn, with a lot of time spent in meetings with manufacturing, advertising, and C-suite leaders.

This is an industry that revolves around what works, and the types of marketing jobs and salary you can land in depends on your own personal brand and expertise.

All the different things that marketers do, in all the many specialized categories of the industry, serves the purpose of intentionally stimulating demand for goods and services. It’s an inherently people-focused industry, steeped in psychology and dependent on communication and media skills.

Marketing Job Descriptions Require Communications

It follows that all marketing and advertising jobs involve analysis and communication. You can expect to do a lot of writing whether you are hunting for chief marketing officer jobs or answering to a marketing assistant job description. Conveying marketing messages with both clarity and innuendo are key skills in the industry.

Marketing Job Titles All Involve an Eye For Detail

Marketers also spend a lot of time reviewing both their audience and their competition. You will be consuming media and picking it apart, looking at ways that other brands and products appeal to their buyers. And you will digest surveys, shopping data, even surveillance video, of your potential purchasers in their native habitat.

Marketing Specialist Jobs Require Psychological Insight

It’s all work that rewards a strong understanding of the human condition and the motivations and drives of people in different cultures and stages of life. The psychological perspectives you get through social and cultural studies in liberal studies degrees help you penetrate to the core of buying decisions.

Marketing Jobs Reward a Flair For Art and Design

An understanding of graphic design and the basic elements of aesthetic appeal are also important in any marketing role. Not only do you have to have your own sense of style and a command of the classic elements of artistic appeal, but you also have to interpret logos, ad designs, and even packaging from the perspective of your target audience.

From Digital Marketing to Brand Marketing, All Types of Marketing Jobs Are Open to Liberal Studies Graduates

Brand light bulb puzzleIf you are wondering what jobs you can get with a marketing degree, you’re going to be spending a long time reading the list. Everything from real estate marketing jobs to nonprofit marketing jobs are wide open. Anything that needs to be sold needs to be advertised. Companies and governments need to build trust through branding. Marketers exert a subtle influence throughout society.

That means there are hundreds of different kinds of marketing jobs to be had. You might pick one industry and pursue your career all the way to the top, or hop around as the mood takes you, putting your talents to use in different areas, or as a marketing consultant.

Marketing Manager Job Description

Marketing manager jobs or VP marketing jobs are exactly where you want to end up in your marketing job journey. Senior-level positions with managerial responsibilities and a salary to match make these some of the best marketing jobs. But that all comes with an obligation to deliver results. If your strategic insight and leadership skills aren’t up to the task, you’ll find yourself back in the hunt for low-level entry marketing jobs again.

How to Become a Marketing Manager

How long does it take to become a marketing manager? Well, that’s going to depend a lot on your drive, your industry, and just plain old-fashioned luck. But a liberal arts background can move your timeline up quite a bit! Managers have to have not just the kind of analytical and communication skills that every marketer does, but also real management talent. A liberal arts education prepares you for that kind of work by giving you a well-rounded education and empathy skills to build a rapport with any employee.

Digital Marketing Job Description

It only makes sense that as so much of the rest of our lives are driven by the internet and digital media, marketing too is becoming dominated by digital realities.

Consulting firm Deloitte’s 2021 Digital Media Trends survey found that around 80 percent of respondents use social media, subscribe to a streaming service, and regularly play online games—exceeding the only 67 percent who still have a traditional television service.

With more of what people see from day to day living only in the digital realm, that’s exactly where marketers have to go to see them. And that requires both traditional marketing skillsets and the ability to learn and adapt to new trends and technologies in the field.

How to Become a Digital Marketer

Entry level digital marketing jobs are easy to find in this day and age. But you need an education that is just as flexible as the job, and that’s where liberal studies degrees come in. With a solid footing in traditional communication and psychology skills, they also train your problem-solving and learning skills so you can pick up any new technology you need to learn with no trouble at all.

Social Media Marketing Jobs

Social media marketer and influencer setting up ring light and cameraSocial media marketing can be considered as a subset of digital marketing. It’s really a mash-up of old-fashioned word-of-mouth advertising with the jet-booster of widespread connectivity strapped on. Where once upon a time a low-cost person-to-person campaign would spread slowly through a community, in the world of social media thousands if not millions of individuals can be touched by a single post on Instagram or a wild TikTok video.

How to Become a Social Media Marketer

Both big brands and independent marketers are jumping all over these trends. Influencer marketing jobs are a hot new flavor in social media marketing, with your personal brand serving as a launch pad for marketing of many different products and services—whoever is the highest bidder.

These are often freelance marketing jobs, putting you to work as an independent contractor from anywhere in the world. Although lounging around tropical pools and enjoying comped suites in luxury high-rise towers looks like a breeze, it’s hard work that requires a lot of time management, negotiation, and people-handling skills… all areas where the social science elements of a liberal studies degree can offer a boost to your native talents.

Some of the Hottest Marketing Jobs are in Sports, Fashion, Music and Entertainment 

Let’s face it, there are some marketing jobs that are just flat-out more glamorous than redesigning brand logos for a gasket manufacturer in the Midwest. There are plenty of people who want to be a part of the glitz and excitement of marketing a pro sports team, major fashion brands, or hot new record labels.

Unfortunately, that tends to drive salaries down and competition up for these jobs. But a liberal studies degree can give you a leg up by boosting your familiarity with the fine and performing arts during your college education. While most people see the hype and energy of these jobs, a solid grasp of culture and appreciation of the technical elements of the arts can help you get to the roots of what people find appealing in these industries.

Liberal arts offers you the opportunity to dive into those creative fields directly, through courses in design, music, and media. But it also offers you big-picture perspectives on how those fields integrate into society through social studies coursework.

What’s the Difference Between a Marketing Specialist and Marketing Director?

Email marketing concept with laptop and phoneMarketing coordinator, marketing director, marketing assistant, marketing associate… there are a lot of steps in the marketing job titles hierarchy, but it’s not always clear exactly what each step is.

It’s fairly obvious that a marketing assistant is going to come in somewhere below marketing director, but apart from that, you’ll find that different industries and even different companies have their own ideas about what each of these jobs handle. A marketing coordinator at one business marketing job might have the primary responsibility for pulling together marketing across the entire company. At another organization, the same title might describe a low-level email marketing job that just stuffs text into Constant Content templates and fires it off.

You’ll have to do your own homework about the organizations you apply to in order to figure out which position you really want.

Online Marketing Jobs Are Becoming More Common in Every Specialty

Remote digital marketing jobs are the new hotness, but with COVID-19 paving the way, all types of marketing positions are going online. Everything from marketing communications jobs to vector marketing jobs are now available for remote workers.

Most marketing professionals already spent their days in front of a screen anyway, so it’s a pretty easy transition for some. But marketers also thrive on human connection, on bouncing ideas around and getting real-time feedback, so it can also be a challenge for the kind of insight and innovation that is core to the job.

This is another area where a liberal arts education and research skills that come with it can serve you well, however. You will already have learned how to use the power of internet access to help answer many questions about human thoughts and behavior in the course of your studies. That will translate pretty naturally to marketing research, feeling out the vibes in online communities, and spotting trends that you need to know about before anyone else susses them out.

International marketing is also a big deal in this age of interconnected global markets. A degree in liberal studies will almost certainly give you a better understanding of foreign cultures, and exposure to other languages, that will serve you well in campaigns reaching out across national borders.

The Education and Experience You Need to Learn How To Become a Marketer

Marketing jobs are among those where a degree is not considered to be the biggest or best credential. High paying jobs with a marketing degree are definitely available, but you will find a lot more weight goes into your experience and your skills than the name of your major.

A four-year degree is becoming more commonly required even for entry level marketing jobs, but what employers really want to see is success. Building a portfolio, whether it’s as a marketing intern or in a freelance event marketing job, is one of the best ways to make your case for a marketing job.

The Courses You Need for a Good Marketing Education are Offered in a Liberal Arts Program

Madison Ave street signMarketing is a role where aesthetics and feel can be the absolute determining factors in what you can achieve. Those are notoriously fuzzy qualifications, but they are exactly the kind of qualities that you can build with the right kind of liberal arts degree.

Marketing isn’t all about the touchy-feely stuff, though. You also have to have a solid grasp of the hard-nosed principles of business and economics. A brilliant marketing plan that costs more than the sales it generates is not a brilliant marketing plan. A sense of value is priceless.

Although a degree may not be at the top of the list of things that marketing managers look for when hiring, some of the coursework you may take in college can be crucial in giving you the right skills and knowledge for a marketing agency job. Those include classes in:

Accounting and economics – At the end of the day, marketing is about sales. Marketing professionals have to establish strict budgets and be able to analyze return on investment, which makes understanding accounting principles and theories of economics very important.

Business and management – Marketing departments are integral parts of most businesses, and any marketer who aspires to product market manager jobs had better understand management methods and techniques. Having a good picture of business operations overall also helps marketers working in B2B campaigns.

Information and analysis – Marketing used to be a lot more attuned to the Don Draper’s of the world—as long as you could paint a good picture and impress executives, you could be a successful marketer. Then came the internet, with a firehouse of demographic and behavioral data, much of it tied directly to customers, and even to their specific reactions to marketing campaigns. Today, there are marketing analyst jobs devoted exclusively to building out and interpreting this data, and even entry level marketing jobs require familiarity with Big Data concepts and tools.

Communications – Painting a picture is still a vital part of sales and marketing jobs. Understanding the tools that are available to you in writing and rhetoric is an important part of the education of a marketer. Coursework in communications can offer you both the nuts and bolts elements of good grammar, and the time-tested elements of persuasion that can make both your ad copy and your internal memos sing.

Social studies and psychology – A good grasp of culture is essential in any marketing job. Most of the marketing horror stories you will hear reflect some kind of basic breakdown between the sensibilities of the marketing team and the reality of their prospective customers. Social and cultural studies, including the history leading up to the structure of modern society, are great ways to prepare for a marketing career that won’t inadvertently offend some major ethnic group or lead to campaigns so narrow that no one gets them.

Coca-Cola and Pepsi cans side by sideCoca Cola had been America’s favorite soft drink for decades by the time arch-rival Pepsi launched an insidious new advertising campaign in 1975 called “The Pepsi Challenge.” A simple blind taste test between the two colas didn’t produce any statistically significant results, but it did start eating into Coke’s dominant market share.

In April of 1985, desperate to claw back their losses, Coke made some alterations to their classic formula to modernize the taste and introduced it as “New Coke.”

The change was seen as an attack on an American tradition, however. Pepsi sales actually jumped by 14 percent as cola drinkers abandoned New Coke in droves, the largest month-over-month increase in the company’s history.

By July, only 79 days after New Coke was introduced, Coca Cola pledged to return the original formula to stores. New Coke clung to life until 1992. Coca Cola survived and recovered, but this is an episode of the Cola Wars that product marketers can point to as an example of both a tremendous success and a colossal failure: the genius Pepsi Challenge that was so effective it pushed Coke into one of the greatest marketing blunders of all time.

Getting Into Entry Level Marketing Jobs With a Liberal Studies Degree

Bust sculpture with sunglassesThat first step into the world of marketing major jobs is a tough one. Breaking into a marketing associate job takes moxie and flexibility, and is less about what it says on top of your diploma and more about what you actually learned while earning it.

If you were paying attention to the kind of coursework listed above, you’ll see that a lot of it already lines up with the kind of traditional, rigorous arts and sciences education that you will pursue in a bachelor of liberal studies degree. That’s clearly the case when it comes to communications and social studies, but it’s also true of such classes as psychology and business. Even economics is a common course in many BLS programs.

Marketers put the classic together with the modern in ways that strike deep at the sensibilities of their audience. A liberal arts education gives you all the knowledge and understanding you need to make those connections.

A Marketing Intern Position Can Help Seal The Deal For Your Marketing Career

The heavy emphasis on prior experience in marketing, even for entry-level positions, definitely cuts both ways when you’re getting started in the field. It means that a dedicated marketing degree isn’t particularly important, but it also means that getting that first job can be tough regardless of your education.

Internships help you break through this catch-22 in marketing jobs. It’s the closest thing to an apprenticeship that the field has to offer. Leveraging connections through your school, getting a position as a marketing assistant for a semester or so can help you make the connections you can use and the experience you need to land a position once you graduate.

Interns spend a lot of time getting coffee and running ad samples around the office, but it’s a great position for observing and soaking up the reality of business marketing jobs.

Marketing Jobs Offer Great Salaries and Big Time Career Prospects

Intern getting coffees for coworkersMarketing degree job prospects are almost always strong. Every industry faces competition, and every business needs to advertise itself in some way to customers. That’s true in good times and bad, and it’s reflected in the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) forecast for job growth among advertising, promotions, and marketing managers, which is expected to hit 10 percent between 2020 and 2030.

Management is just one category of marketing jobs that BLS tracks, however. Marketing has a wide range of specializations, some of which overlap with other job categories. Median salaries vary across those specialties, but they are all lucrative positions.

The highest paying marketing jobs, those in the top ten percent of all marketing managers, bring in more than $208,000.

Salary Levels for Marketing Jobs Vary By Location

Although marketing jobs are increasingly becoming remote, there are still some clear centers of gravity in the industry. Those are mostly located around the major media markets in the country, so you will see real salary differences in different states and metros for the same kinds of jobs.

For example, marketing specialists command the following median salary levels in these different states:

From Healthcare Marketing to Travel Marketing, Every Industry Has Unique Salary Levels

It’s not just location that determines your compensation as a marketing professional, though. Every industry has its own baseline for marketing salaries. Budgets can swing around a lot. The manufacturing and wholesale markets, for example, just don’t carry the same dependency on mass market advertising for customer segments as do, say, pharmaceutical or cosmetics markets.

You can see that reflected in the median salary for marketing managers in various industries:

So you can see that the Geico gecko is probably making some pretty good scratch there in the insurance industry.

Still, you can see even the less glamorous end of the business gets you into six figures very quickly on the management side. There’s a lot of potential in marketing careers for liberal arts majors, and it only becomes more of an advantage the higher you rise in the field. Research published by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce in 2020 found that the 40-year return-on-investment for liberal arts graduates came in a full 25 percent higher than for counterparts with more direct degrees in their fields.

So if you have a flair for communication and a desire to become a marketer, liberal arts offers one of the best ways to prepare for a long and lucrative career in the field.

2020 US Bureau of Labor Statistics salary figures and job growth projections for Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers, Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists, and Social media specialist reflect national data not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed December 2021.