Overview

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.

How long does it take to become a Marketing Manager?

From a formal education perspective, it is possible to enter the marketing management industry after earning a four-year Bachelor’s Degree in an appropriate marketing or business related discipline.

From a career trajectory perspective, it is important to take note of the fact that aspiring marketing managers often enter the industry as a marketing coordinator or specialist. It generally takes them at least a few – if not several – years to be promoted to a management level role, depending on how quickly they acquire experience and establish professional networks. Once a candidate reaches the position of marketing manager, it can take six months to a year to become fully trained in the many moving parts of the role.

Steps to becoming a Marketing Manager

While each individual step to becoming a marketing manager is clearly defined, the potential for different approaches within each step is considerable.

1 High School

Relevant high school courses for aspiring marketing managers include economics, finance, statistics, and computer science.

2 Bachelor’s Degree

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
 Marketing Research

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.

3 Employment

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:

 Brand Management
 Sales
 Market Research/Analysis
 Advertising
 Pharmaceutical Marketing
 Retail Marketing
 High-tech Marketing (management, marketing, and sales of tech products like computers, software, system services, and other aspects of the high-tech industry)
 Marketing Consulting
 Consumer Analysis
 Business-to-Business Marketing

4 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)
www.ama.org

Sales & Marketing Executives International (SMEI)
www.smei.org

5 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:

 Digital Marketing
 Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
 Content Marketing
 Social Media Marketing
 Marketing Strategy
 Public Relations / Digital Media

6 Master’s Degree

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.

Should I become a Marketing Manager?

Marketing managers in various roles and industries need to develop platform-specific skills, software knowledge, and familiarity with other related tools. However, before employers look for these crucial abilities, they invariably seek out job candidates who bring indispensable soft skills: social and emotional intelligence, common sense, and attitudes that enable them to effectively navigate their environment and work well with both colleagues and business partners:

Ability to Execute
Marketing managers are expected to drive results with some strategic support, usually from a director or VP. The ability to organize, and execute on a plan is paramount in this role. Do you have a history of / are you capable of executing well on strategies and projects? Do you meet deadlines and deliver on time, even under high pressure circumstances? Do you deliver high quality work?

Ability to Collaborate and Lead
The breadth of marketing managers’ responsibilities means that they must play well with others to be able to benefit from their expertise. They must be able to communicate and build relationships both internally, across multiple departments and externally, with their clients and suppliers.

Being a collaborator comes down to how much empathy you have for others; to seeing things from their perspective. Without this capacity, other skills – regardless of how developed they may be – will be nullified.

In most companies, the marketing manager leads a marketing team. Support, guidance, and motivation of team members are also key components of the role.

Adaptability
The digital marketing landscape is in a constant state of flux, with a seemingly endless flow of new trends, tactics, and tools. Ability and willingness to adapt to project and industry changes are essential.

Critical Thinking / Creative Problem Solving Skills
Marketing managers face challenges and dilemmas on a daily basis. They are frequently asked very pointed and consequential questions: Why is revenue decreasing? How can we decrease our churn rate (the rate at which a business is losing its customers or subscribers)? How can we get more traffic to our site? These kinds of questions do not intimidate accomplished marketing managers. They motivate them to critically observe trends, make judgements, and come up with innovative ideas, unique hooks, and fresh content to build new promotional campaigns.

Writing and communication
Marketing is all about successfully communicating the right message to the right audience. Marketing managers are consistently called upon to write press releases, blogs, and advertising copy to do just that. They are called upon to achieve branding through storytelling.

Analytical Skills
At its inception, marketing was only about appreciating the nuances of human behaviors. It was, in essence, an art. Today, it is both art and science. It is about measuring and analyzing the numbers and then using that data to extract insights and nuances. Modern marketing managers, therefore, are expected to make data-driven, metric-based decisions. In other words, their recommendations need to be based on measureable statistics versus intuition. It follows that they must be comfortable working with marketing analytics tools.

Negotiation and Budgeting skills
Media buying requires negotiating with vendors for better prices and placement. Managing a marketing department’s budget requires sound reasoning and mathematics skills. Allocating and managing budgets across multiple channels and/or delegating this responsibility to appropriate individuals are very much a part of the job description.

What are Marketing Managers like?

Enterprising

Based on our pool of users, marketing managers tend to be predominately enterprising people. Their next two interest archetypes are artistic and investigative. This combination of characteristics aligns perfectly with the role and responsibilities of the prototypical marketing manager: create appealing and inventive campaigns and constantly test and evaluate marketing messages, channels, and opportunities to ultimately increase business profits.

Marketing Managers by Strongest Interest Archetype

Based on sample of 5480 Sokanu users

Are Marketing Managers happy?

44%Happy

Marketing managers rank among the least happy careers. Overall they rank in the 45th percentile of careers for satisfaction scores. Please note that this number is derived from the data we have collected from our Sokanu members only.

This below-average happiness quotient for marketing managers may appear surprising, considering the career’s high earning potential and flexibility to work in virtually any industry, from pharmaceuticals to technology to entertainment. Possible explanation may, however, lie in the field’s very high competition for jobs, the long hours it tends to demand, the stress of the typical work environment, and the ongoing pressure to meet deadlines commonly associated with the role.

Marketing Manager Career Satisfaction by Dimension

Percentile among all careers

Education History of Marketing Managers

The most common degree held by marketing managers is Business Management And Administration. 7% of marketing managers had a degree in business management and administration before becoming marketing managers. That is over 1 times the average across all careers. Communications graduates are the second most common among marketing managers, representing 6% of marketing managers in the Sokanu user base, which is 2.0 times the average.

Marketing Manager Education History

This table shows which degrees people earn before becoming a Marketing Manager, compared to how often those degrees are obtained by people who earn at least one post secondary degree.

Degree % of marketing managers % of population Multiple
Business Management And Administration 7.3% 6.3% 1.2×
Communications 6.4% 3.2% 2.0×
Marketing And Marketing Research 6.1% 2.1% 2.9×
English Literature 3.9% 4.7% 0.8×
Business 2.9% 2.3% 1.3×
Journalism 2.3% 1.1% 2.0×
Psychology 2.2% 6.5% 0.3×
Economics 2.2% 3.7% 0.6×
Political Science 1.7% 2.8% 0.6×
International Business 1.5% 1.0% 1.6×
Public Relations 1.5% 0.6% 2.6×
Advertising 1.4% 0.6% 2.4×
International Relations 1.3% 1.5% 0.9×
Graphic Design 1.3% 1.3% 1.0×
Fine Arts 1.1% 1.9% 0.6×
History 1.1% 2.1% 0.5×
Sociology 1.1% 2.0% 0.5×

Marketing Manager Education Levels

56% of marketing managers have a bachelor's degree. 35% of marketing managers have a master's degree.

No education 0%
High school diploma 4%
Associate's degree 6%
Bachelor's degree 56%
Master's degree 35%
Doctorate degree 0%

How to Become a Marketing Manager

  1. Take the Sokanu Career Test

    Would you make a good marketing manager? Sokanu's free assessment reveals how compatible you are with a career across 5 dimensions!

    Take the free career test
  2. Jobs in your area
    • Loading jobs...
    View all jobs →

Further Reading

Find your perfect career

Would you make a good marketing manager? Sokanu's free assessment reveals how compatible you are with a career across 5 dimensions!

80% Match?
Take the free career test