Do You need a Degree to get into Marketing?

Do You need a Degree to get into Marketing?

In certain fields having a degree (or multiple ones) is the only surefire way to get your foot in the door. Most often this applies to left-brained, science-y paths like doctoring, lawyering, engineering…or worldwide marine asset financial analyzing, also known as accounting. Seriously, look it up. It’s a thing.

These are by no means the only jobs that require a formal post-secondary education, but there are also some that don’t require a degree per-se. Is marketing among them?  Kind of. It’s such a grey-area question but before we get into it we’d just like to say we’re not here to dictate whether you should go to college or university or take another path. Both choices have benefits and only you can decide which is right for you.

Alright, carrying on.

I suppose a better answer to the above question is that having a degree is desirable if you want to get into marketing but not mandatory. Unlike jobs that are academic in nature, marketing is a more real-world, experience-based field. College courses and internships are great ways to garner said experience but you could also do so through apprenticeships and online courses. What matters is the quality of your work, willingness to learn, and adaptability. How you develop these skills isn’t as important.

It should also be noted that there isn’t just one kind of marketing job. Based on what we know, content creators, graphic designers, web developers and designers, social media specialists, research analysts, account managers, print specialists, salespeople, and consultants all fall within the blanket category of “marketing specialists”. These have similar but non-identical requirements. So let’s look at what each of these are.

Creative Jobs

For the sake of ease, let’s place content creation, graphic design, web design and development in this category. Each of these requires the ability to turn creative thought into something tangible, which can be learned in school or through self-guidance. In either case, employers are looking for hefty portfolios when deciding who to hire. References wouldn’t hurt either.

If you decide to get a degree in any of these fields, here are some programs we recommend, which can be taken at a college or university level.

Content Development: Communications, Journalism, Public Relations, or Advertising and Marketing.

Graphic Design: Graphic Design, Digital Art and Animation, or Fine Arts.

Web Design: Graphic Design, Digital Art and Animation, or Web Design and Development.

Web Development (Programming): Web Development, Game Development and Programming, Computer Science and Software Engineering, or Applied Information Technology.

If you decide to forgo a post-secondary education there are still options a-plenty. Sites like offer a range of programs related to these fields, which participants can learn independently and at their own speeds.

Networking and freelancing for at least one or two years are also highly recommended if you choose this path, since you probably won’t be given the same internship opportunities as the college and university-goers. Make as many connections as you can through social events, conferences, and webinars and stay up to date with what the industry masters are doing. Perhaps even reach out to them if you have the chance.

Above all, don’t stop practicing and learning; you’re your own boss!

Management and Sales Jobs

Account and company management and sales positions are just as important as the creative ones. These are typically attained and mastered through real-world experience, although taking business and accounting – oops, I mean worldwide marine asset financial analyzing – programs are also great places to start if you want an intellectual understanding of business.

Some people also get into management and sales after having been in creative positions for a while. This is desirable because they tend to understand their company’s products and services from a practical, working standpoint. If you don’t have this kind of background you can still excel as a manager or sales rep, though. You simply need to know enough to, well, adequately manage and market what your business is offering. This isn’t too tricky. Shadowing, networking, and researching are ideal ways to learn everything you need to know.

The Other Jobs

I don’t mean to use the word “other” in an alienating sense. On the contrary, I’m referring to the social media, search engine marketing, and print positions which don’t fall into either of the above categories yet are so vital to the industry.

The interesting thing about social and SEM is that these jobs have only existed for a few years. So, it’s taken until very recently for colleges to begin offering courses about these subjects. Because of this most employers aren’t looking for those with social or SEM degrees but rather experience.  So, for the time being anyway, you can get away with forgoing these programs unless you want to take them. However, we do suggest you become AdWords certified and take courses or something similar. This will allow you to get all the background knowledge needed to excel.

Print is often regarded as a learn-on-the-job kind of career. In spite of this there are college-level print programs. We’d recommend taking one if you don’t otherwise have access to the right equipment and training. This is because print courses are designed to give you a working knowledge of the industry rather than teaching theory.

And hey, there’s nothing wrong with theory. It’s just that sometimes it’s not as useful to getting a job as it would be in other careers, namely the science-based ones mentioned in the beginning.

Pursuing a marketing career can seem complicated but there are plenty of resources out there to help those of all backgrounds get to where they want to be. Sometimes having a post-secondary education is highly recommended. Other times, not so much. With the right research and motivation, you’ll be able to find out what steps you need to take to get the job you’ve been yearning for.




Greg Plante
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