How to Become a Marketing Manager

Businesses need customers. Most businesses strive to not only retain their current customers, but also to attract new ones. Marketing managers help businesses do just that by creating interest around products and services. If you’re a creative, analytical and driven professional, this career could be for you. Keep reading to discover how to become a marketing manager.

Why Study Marketing?

If you enjoy taking the lead with creative projects, analyzing data and collaborating with others toward a common goal, you may want to study marketing to become a marketing executive. Obtaining a marketing certificate or a marketing degree can help prepare you for this career. Another reason to study marketing is the earnings potential of marketing managers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary of marketing managers was $136,850 in 2019.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Marketing Manager?

Climbing the ranks to management takes time. How long it takes to become a marketing manager will ultimately depend on the marketing niche you’re interested in and the specific needs of the companies you want to work for. However, you can expect to have met the minimum educational requirements and gained prior experience in the industry.

Marketing Manager Education Requirements

The BLS reports that a bachelor’s degree is required for most marketing manager positions. Employers may prefer specific majors or demonstrated coursework that supports the knowledge needed for the position. A bachelor’s marketing degree program might require coursework in:

  • Business law
  • Management
  • Finance
  • Statistics
  • Economics
  • Consumer behavior
  • Marketing research
  • Sales
  • Communication

Some colleges may offer or require students to complete an internship as part of the program. In either case, undergraduate degree programs usually take full-time students four years to complete. If you plan on working another job while in school, have family obligations or other commitments, you can study part time. Doing so, however, might extend your program completion time by another year or two.

Marketing Manager Experience Requirements

The BLS also notes that marketing managers and directors need to have work experience in a similar occupation. Management-level positions usually require you to have prior experience supervising staff and successfully managing projects and campaigns. Some employers may even require a certain number of years of industry experience before considering applicants for management positions at their companies. A history of supervisory leadership and progressive responsibility could be helpful if you hope to be considered for a marketing director or management role.

3 Steps to Becoming a Marketing Manager

The steps to becoming a marketing manager may seem overwhelming, we’ve mapped out three key areas to help you stay focused during your journey: education, experience and professional networking. While some areas may overlap, all three work together to help provide you with skills that may help you to succeed in this occupation.

Though everyone’s journey is different, here are three common steps you can take to become a marketing manager.

1. Earn your bachelor’s degree

Search for colleges and universities that offer bachelor degree programs in advertising, journalism or business. If you have a specific industry in mind, aim to enroll in programs that allow you to specialize in the areas you’re interested in. For example, you look for programs that cover digital marketing, public relations, marketing management, social media marketing, integrated marketing communications, or marketing research and analytics.

A central benefit of obtaining your degree in marketing—opposed to another field—is that the program may require you to complete a marketing internship. This could help you gain experience and possibly even connect you with further job or networking opportunities.

2. Obtain relevant work experience

According to the BLS, advertising, promotions and marketing managers have prior work experience in advertising, marketing, promotions or sales. Some marketing managers, the BLS notes, are previous sales representatives, buyers or purchasing agents, or public relations specialists. To obtain relevant work experience is to find an entry-level marketing position and work your way up from there. Then you can stay alert to new opportunities and apply for jobs that allow you to take on more responsibility.

3. Expand your professional network

Expanding your professional network can help you become a marketing executive. As you meet new people in the industry and build relationships with them, you never know if they might connect you with your next professional opportunity. Consider joining relevant associations like the American Marketing Association. Maintaining an active association membership can provide you with marketing news, discounted training and access to digital journals. It can also help demonstrate your commitment to continued learning and growth.

7 Skills that Marketing Executives Use Every Day

Most marketing managers work full time. Over the course of a day, week or month they are likely to use a variety of skills to meet business objectives. The first six skills discussed below come from the BLS’ list of important qualities of advertising, promotions and marketing managers.

1. Analytical skills

If you’re wondering how to become a marketing manager, analytical skills can help you plan effective marketing campaigns. The ability to synthesize, analyze and draw meaningful insights from data will be beneficial in this career.

2. Communication skills

Strong communication skills can benefit anyone in a management position. Marketing executives should be able to effectively communicate with teams, including subordinates and coworkers, throughout the marketing process. You also may need to persuasively communicate to sell products and/or services.

3. Creativity

Creativity can be a beneficial skill for marketing directors and managers, as they often need to generate new and imaginative ideas to promote products and services. While coming up with many new ideas can be helpful, ideas should also be high quality.

4. Decision-making skills

When analyzing campaign strategies, marketing managers have to decide which would be most advantageous for the company. This involves analyzing the financial costs and benefits of marketing decisions.

5. Interpersonal skills

Managers work with a variety of people, both inside and outside the organization. These people may include current and future clients, as well as media representatives. Marketing directors and managers should be able to effectively communicate and navigate different scenarios with these groups.

6. Organizational skills

Marketing managers can expect to balance many things—time, budgets, schedules, etc.— while supervising staff members. The ability to stay organized can be beneficial in this career. Part of staying organized hinges on your ability to establish strong, feasible project goals.

7. Technical skills

O*NET OnLIne lists several technical skills of marketing managers. Depending on the position, to become a marketing executive you may need proficiency or familiarity with one or more of these software programs listed by O*NET:

  • Customer relationship management (CRM): Blackbaud The Raiser’s Edge; Oracle Eloqua; QAD Marketing Automation; Salesforce software
  • Database management system: Apache Solr; Elasticsearch; Oracle PL/SQL; Teradata Database
  • Database user interface and query: AEC Software FastTrack; Amazon Redshift; Microsoft Access; Oracle software
  • Enterprise resource planning (ERP): Microsoft Dynamics; NetSuite ERP; Oracle PeopleSoft; SAP
  • Web development: Drupal; Hypertext markup language HTML; JavaScript; Ruby on Rails

Why Become a Marketing Manager?

The demand for professionals who can help companies grow their market share isn’t expected to decrease any time soon. In fact, demand for marketing managers is expected to increase 8% from 2018 to 2028, which is faster than average, according to the BLS. Marketing managers contribute to the long-term success of many organizations. Many employers recognize that marketing managers bring a unique skill set to the workplace. The right manager can help an organization effectively increase profits by introducing or enhancing current products and services while meeting customer needs.

Marketing Manager Careers and Salary

Marketing manager careers and salaries vary based on several factors, including:

  • Industry and employment sector of the position
  • Specific job responsibilities
  • Minimum education and experience requirements
  • Geographic location of the position

According to the BLS, median pay for advertising, promotions and marketing managers was $135,900 in 2019. Learn more about marketing manager careers and salaries, including what the top-paying cities and states are for marketing manager.

Last Updated August 2020