It’s estimated that today, the average American is exposed to over 5,000 advertisements per day. Compare that to an estimated 500 half a century ago, and it becomes clear that those behind the signs have a huge impact on our daily lives. While the displays themselves – from billboards to busses and park benches – are specifically designed and implemented by advertisers, those that work in marketing craft the greater strategies to engineer a desirable reputation around their product. Basically, they pull the strings that get us to buy stuff. It might sound a bit nefarious, but most of us love buying stuff, and will continue to love it, which means that working in marketing isn’t a bad choice for a post-graduate career. Marketing majors, then, learn the strategies that make products sell, sometimes referred to as the four P’s: Product, Promotion, Price, Place.
While many of those who choose to major in marketing during their undergraduate years go on to enter into a directly related field (around 80%), the marketing major is generally considered to be a very usefully broad pre-professional degree to work towards.
Careers in marketing are often those in which you need to put in the time to advance – but there is room for advancement. A starting position in sales, for instance, can be the first step towards a well-paying position in the marketing department of a company.
The median salary for marketing majors clocks in at around $59,000, about 8% higher than the average for all undergraduate majors. While many entry-level positions will fall under this number, by the midpoint of their careers many marketing majors are earning upwards of $75,000 per year.
An area of study that necessarily involves working with other people (and about other people), those that choose to study marketing will develop great interpersonal skills. Studying as an undergraduate marketing major, it is likely that you will collaborate with others on projects and group assignments, and one must be willing to work well with others in order to be successful. In addition, the usual marketing major is fraught with presentations and other projects that necessitate an ability to speak and speak well. For those that choose to stay on the marketing track – and most do – these skills will be quite necessary working at a marketing firm.
One of the chief skills developed by marketing majors is the ability to see novel and creative solutions to the problems presented by their assignments, and later on, their clients. This creativity can necessitate integration of multiple mediums, from billboards and TV ads to radio segments and newspaper printings. Because marketing majors – and, by extension, marketing firms – work to craft greater overall frameworks from which to deploy a campaign, it is essential that they not only present any given product in an interesting and refined manner, but that they allow for greater creative potential as the strategy unfolds.
However, those that study marketing also develop skills related to research within their markets. To craft an effective marketing strategy is to know your market, and this only happens through market research. This might involve referring to statistical data regarding a particular demographic or market, reading firsthand accounts written by anthropologists or sociologists, or even performing your own fieldwork in order to gather the necessary information.
While they aren’t so much the chief tenets of marketing as they are to other disciplines, marketing majors also hone their skills to read and write effectively. Rounding out their abilities comes the crafting of visual aid to accompany their work. Because marketing is chiefly about people and their interactions, the strongest marketing proposals are those that combine both written and visual elements in order to effectively illustrate an idea.
Median Pay: $38,000
An entry-level job in sales can and will tap into the same interpersonal relations, product knowledge, and creative thinking skills you worked on as an undergraduate marketing major. While the specific responsibilities of positions in sales vary greatly by industry, a job in sales right out of the gate can be a great way to start climbing the ladder at one particular company, or to work towards other positions in which you will be face-to-face with customers and clients.
Median Pay: $43,000
Similar to sales, working as a marketing associate necessitates that you know your product backwards and forwards. Yet, instead of pitching the desirable attributes of a product to a single customer, as a marketing associate you will work to craft greater overarching strategies to effectively sell products. Again, your presentation, creative, and interpersonal skills will certainly come in handy as a marketing associate.
Public Relations Coordinator
While those in marketing work to sell a product, a job in PR will place you in charge of, well, relating that company, product, or client to the public. Working in PR involves maintaining a positive image by regulating the information that connects a client to the public, often through speeches, press releases, and other such public appearances. Positions in PR will tap your attention to detail and ability to relate one small facet of a company to a greater overall strategy, and involves working in concert with those in marketing and advertising to ensure that your client is successful.
The stronger your visual creation skills, the better off you are at presenting yourself as a good candidate for a job in marketing. Because the industry itself is quite multi-faceted and requires multiple departments and capabilities, being able to present yourself as a candidate that can be proficient across mediums and departments can certainly give you a leg up in landing a marketing job as well as advancing past the entry-level stage.