CareerExplorer’s step-by-step guide on how to become a marketing manager.
Is becoming a marketing manager right for me?
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Relevant high school courses for aspiring marketing managers include economics, finance, statistics, and computer science.
Most marketing managers have a Bachelor’s Degree in marketing, advertising, business administration, or a related field. Common courses include marketing research, public relations, consumer behavior, business law, management, economics, finance, computer science, mathematics, and statistics. For example, computer science classes are helpful in developing an approach to maximize traffic through online search results, which is critical for digital advertisements and promotions.
Among the most popular Bachelor’s Degree majors are:
Consumer Merchandising / Retailing Management
Apparel and Textile Marketing Management
Pharmaceutical Marketing and Management
General Marketing / Marketing Management
Some college marketing management departments form alliances with companies and firms to offer internships, which provide students with hands-on business experience. The most sought-after internships focus on marketing, sales, or public relations.
Employment options for marketing managers are particularly diverse. They work in any and all industries that sell products, services, or ideas. They find jobs with specialized firms that provide marketing services to numerous clients, or they work in a marketing department for an organization that sells its own goods. Healthcare, technology, hospitality, entertainment, food and beverage, and apparel are just a few of a wide variety of industries that use the services of marketing managers.
Marketing managers often have previous job-related training, which means than it is common for qualified job candidates to originate from other degree fields, such as journalism or graphic design. They also receive on-the-job training to introduce them to specific vendors and software tools for campaign development, promotion, and evaluation.
It is estimated that only twelve percent of marketing managers have less than five years of industry experience, and only four percent have less than two years in the field. This data indicates that inexperienced job candidates typically have greater success in lower-level positions, such as a marketing coordinator or specialist role, before advancing to the managerial level. Smaller and younger companies may be more flexible when it comes to experience and promotion requirements.
There are many career paths available for someone with a marketing management degree. Personal interests and talents, as well as ultimate career goals, determine an individual’s choice. Some career paths in the field are:
High-tech Marketing (management, marketing, and sales of tech products like computers, software, system services, and other aspects of the high-tech industry)
Trade Associations and Networking
Joining trade associations allows marketing managers to network with other managers and stay informed on professional opportunities and the latest industry developments, protocols, and technologies.
Association of International Product Marketing & Management (AIPMM) www.aipmm.com
American Marketing Association (AMA)
Sales & Marketing Executives International (SMEI)
Certification (recommended / optional)
While not mandatory, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that a growing number of marketing managers pursue certification to enhance their employability.
The American Marketing Association (AMA) offers the designation Professional Certified Marketer (PCM). Candidates must possess, at minimum, a Bachelor’s Degree and pass a 210-question exam that tests knowledge of core marketing concepts. The AMA states that the exam is oriented toward individuals who have two to four years of experience. It provides a list of suggested reading materials to prepare for the five-hour exam. Maintaining the PCM certification requires thirty-six hours of continuing education every three years.
Sales & Marketing Executives International (SMEI) offers the Certified Marketing Executive (CME) designation. To apply for this program, an individual must be working as marketing manager, executive manager, or marketing educator; or be the owner-operator of a business. Accepted applicants receive a 523-page exam prep textbook. Certification renewal requires twenty hours of continuing education annually.
More specialized marketing management certifications, including the following, are also available:
Certified Product Marketing Manager (CPMM) from the Association of International Product Marketing & Management (AIPPM)
Certified Financial Marketing Professional (CFMP) from the American Bankers’ Association (ABA) www.aba.com
Certification in Business-to-Business Marketing from the Business Marketing Institute www.businessmarketinginstitute.com
Several universities and business schools run programs that allow marketing managers to upgrade their skills and earn specific certifications in subject areas such as the following:
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Social Media Marketing
Public Relations / Digital Media
A Master’s Degree in Marketing or a Master’s of Business Administration is particularly valued in marketing management circles. Hiring managers for higher-level positions in the field often seek the training in management, leadership, business strategies, finance, product development, and corporate communications that these degree programs provide.
How to become a Marketing Manager
Marketing managers come from a wide range of educational backgrounds. Depending on the level of position, most employers tend to seek job candidates with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business or a Master’s of Business Administration (MBA), with a marketing emphasis. Degrees in marketing, communications, public relations, accounting and finance, and business management are among the most common in the field.
Marketing managers working in highly technical sectors like engineering or life sciences typically hold an undergraduate degree specific to their industry in addition to an MBA or graduate degree in marketing.
It is not unusual for marketing managers to be promoted from positions such as sales representative, advertising specialist, or brand specialist. This is likely due to the fact that the role of marketing manager has something in common with each of these positions: at its core, it is a communications and messaging role. It is about successfully communicating intended messages to target audiences to get them to take desired actions.
The contemporary business environment, in which communication takes many forms, calls for marketing managers to develop skills in delivering messages via a wide variety of media formats, from print to audio to video to web-based platforms and software. This diverse set of messaging vehicles means that marketing managers must hone an equally diverse skill set. In addition to having a finger on the pulse of the marketplace and recognizing consumer purchasing habits, they must be able to quickly identify and formulate appropriate, effective, and financially sound marketing strategies. In short, they must be part business analyst, part consumer analyst, part psychologist, part creative director, and part accountant.