Written by Doug Wintemute


Marketing managers oversee all marketing initiatives surrounding their organizations' products and services. These professionals work closely with sales and production teams to implement programs that drive and maintain interest.

Marketing managers can find employment in a variety of industries, including finance and insurance, technical services, manufacturing, and wholesale trade. They also earn high salaries. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the top 10% of marketing managers make more than $200,000 annually.

Typically, marketing professionals need a bachelor's degree. Professionals in management positions may need advanced degrees, plus experience in advertising, sales, or general marketing. This guide explores marketing manager careers, including education requirements, helpful skills, and professional organizations.

What Does a Marketing Manager Do?

Generally, marketing managers help organizations identify and satisfy market demands. They develop methods to assess marketing opportunities for organizations and create and implement promotional campaigns to take advantage of those opportunities.

Due to the scope of this process, marketing managers often take on a great deal of responsibility. They may oversee market research, budgeting, pricing, product and service development, advertising, and public relations. These professionals must stay updated on emerging trends and make strategic adjustments based on market transitions.

Marketing managers occupy a central position in their organizations and industries. They work with researchers, sales teams, product developers, and public relations professionals to coordinate and enact cohesive plans. They may also communicate with clients and target customers to understand the industry needs and opportunities.

Experienced marketing managers often develop shortcuts or improved communication channels, which can reduce their workload and make their profession easier to predict. Professionals who become established in their organizations may develop hierarchies to help delegate tasks, allowing them to focus on other elements of the job.

Aspiring marketing managers should anticipate working under pressure and taking on a variety of roles and responsibilities. Those who can tackle challenges with creativity and control should enjoy great success in the profession. Read on for a look at some of the main skills that marketing managers rely on in their daily work.

Key Soft Skills for Marketing Managers
  • Interpersonal Skills: Interpersonal skills help marketing managers make the most of their interactions with staff members, other departments, and people outside of their organizations.
  • Creativity: Marketing professionals need to think outside the box when tackling problems. They must demonstrate creativity in devising imaginative solutions and successful marketing plans.
  • Communication Skills: Communication skills allow marketing managers to communicate effectively across multiple formats. These skills help ensure that marketing campaigns communicate the most effective messages.
  • Organizational Skills: With so many tasks and responsibilities, marketing managers lean on organizational skills to prioritize and manage their time efficiently.
Key Hard Skills for Marketing Managers
  • Media Production: Since marketing managers work with a variety of promotional methods and materials, they must understand various forms of media production, such as digital marketing, video production, and multimedia design.
  • Technological Skills: Marketing managers need computer and technology skills when using customer relationship management software, various databases, and web platforms.
  • Research Skills: Research skills help marketing professionals develop market research strategies, identify product and service opportunities, and assess the competitive landscape. These skills allow marketing managers to understand and evaluate the research others prepare.
  • Sales Skills: Sales skills help marketing managers understand the product and service transactions between organizations and consumers. Managers also employ sales skills and techniques in their marketing strategies to better reach their target audiences.

A Day in the Life of a Marketing Manager

Marketing managers' daily tasks change considerably depending on where they sit in the product or service pipeline. In the research stages, their day-to-day activities involve planning and preparation. They look for new opportunities and ways to capitalize on them. During the development stages, they may budget, price, and create promotional materials. After launch, managers may focus on advertising and product and service evaluation.

    Typical Marketing Manager Daily Tasks

  • Research the market for product or service opportunities.
  • Create or assess marketing strategies to meet organizational objectives.
  • Work with other departments to budget, plan, and coordinate product or service development, launch, and management.
  • Develop and maintain promotional campaigns to stimulate interest.
  • Produce a variety of advertising campaigns to effectively inform consumers.
  • Establish or fine-tune pricing and communication materials.
  • Work with sales teams, customers, and clients to evaluate and improve consumer satisfaction.
  • Report to executives about current operations and look ahead to future initiatives.

Professional Spotlight

Adam Sanders

successfulrelease.com

Adam Sanders is the director of Successful Release, an organization dedicated to helping disadvantaged populations find financial and professional success. Prior to founding Successful Release, he spent a decade working in marketing and product management for major financial technology companies. He holds an MBA from Northwestern's Kellogg School of Business and a bachelor's in finance from Missouri State University.

Why did you become a marketing manager? What initially interested you about the field?
I wanted to be in a revenue-generating role that had a great mix of creativity and analytics. After working in several different roles including finance, product management, and corporate strategy, marketing was the best fit for me and really aligned with my interests. There is always something new to learn because there are so many different facets within marketing, and it’s constantly evolving.
What does your typical workday look like?
There really isn’t a typical day as a marketing leader. I spend a lot of time evaluating the performance and optimizing current campaigns, building partnerships, working with my team to come up with new campaigns. We are primarily focused online so I also lead our development and SEO team to optimize performance and ensure we’re maximizing our organic reach.
What are some of the most rewarding aspects of working in marketing? Some of the most challenging aspects?

Being in a revenue-generating role is very rewarding but also puts a lot of pressure on you. It's great to see your work directly grow the organization, and you really feel like you're making a difference. I also like being in a role that is very data-driven, where we make decisions based on what we know more than what we feel.

Marketing is a challenging field to work in, though. There is a lot of competition, and things change very quickly. There are a lot of aspects of your results that are in your control but also a huge number of variables outside of it that add a lot of stress.

Why did you decide to pursue an MBA?
I wanted to get broader exposure to different aspects of business, improve my personal brand, expand my network, and open up new job opportunities that I otherwise wouldn’t have.
How did your MBA aid you in your current career?
I learned a lot of valuable skills and came away with a much broader mindset coming out of business school. Spending two years with a large group of very talented and accomplished professionals was incredibly motivating and I was able to establish a really great network. I was also able to get access to a lot of opportunities I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to. Overall it really accelerated my career and allowed me to really focus on what I wanted from it.
What was your career path that led you to this position? What do you think helped you most on your journey to become a marketing manager?
My current position is a combination of career experience and personal passions. I had been volunteering as a teacher and program leader, helping former felons find success after prison for several years, and the opportunity arose where I could serve that same group of people while leveraging my professional skills. My MBA and past experience gave me a lot of confidence that I would be able to meet the challenges in a completely different industry and position from what I was used to.
What advice would you give to students considering pursuing a career as a marketing manager?

Find a company that will train and invest in you. Where you work early in your career will have a massive impact on you. You want to find a company that is great at marketing as well as developing talent. It can be tempting to pursue roles at startups or sexy companies that are growing fast, but that isn't a great environment for many early-career marketers. You can teach yourself a lot as you go, but nothing compares to working for a company that really knows how to develop you.

Keep building your skill set, especially your technical skill set. Marketing is becoming increasingly technical and data-driven. The better you're able to operate within the more technical aspects of the profession, the more opportunities you're going to have. You don't have to be a programmer, but being able to pull and manipulate large data sets to find insights is a massively valuable skill.

You don't have to be creative to be effective. Marketing isn't just making ads or commercials. In fact, most large companies outsource the vast majority of their creative work to agencies that specialize in that. If you are data-driven and able to work well with many kinds of people, from designers to engineers, you can have a great career.

Marketing Manager Salary and Career Outlook

According to BLS occupational data, marketing management ranks as one of the highest-paying professions available. Marketing should remain an essential function for most organizations moving forward, meaning demand for marketing managers will likely stay consistent.

BLS employment data projects growth for marketing managers to remain steady at 8% from 2018-2028. The ongoing shift from print to digital media will force organizations to continue refocusing and reforming their marketing efforts.

The rise of electronic media impacts how organizations manage their marketing and alters the reach and influence of marketing. This fundamental change introduces new specializations and new opportunities for those prepared to take advantage of the changing environment. Marketing management professionals with highly specialized skills can expect to stay employed and well-compensated for their work.

Salary Expectations for Marketing Managers

Salary expectations for marketing managers vary by factors like location, experience, and education. Candidates with master's degrees, like MBAs, typically earn more than those with bachelor's degrees.

A marketing manager's industry can also influence salary expectations. The insurance and finance industry, for example, pays a median annual salary exceeding $140,000, according to BLS employment data. At the lower end of the spectrum, wholesale trade marketing managers make an annual mean wage of over $128,000.

Next Steps on the Career Path

Since marketing managers occupy one of the highest positions in an organizational hierarchy, opportunities for upward mobility may not present themselves in the typical sense. Still, some professions make sense as possible future targets for marketing managers, such as public relations manager positions or top executive roles.

Though possibly a lateral move, the public relations field may attract some marketing managers. According to BLS employment data, the two professions feature similar median salaries and education requirements. Since most public relations managers work for civic, religious, and educational institutions, the career shift could provide a change of scenery. Rather than working on specific products or services, PR professionals often manage an entire organization's image.

Chief executives, conversely, make an annual median salary exceeding $180,000 and require significant management experience, according to BLS employment data. Successful marketing managers can use their leadership skills to oversee an organization's operations. Some employers may require master's degrees for chief executive positions.

Where Can I Work as a Marketing Manager?

Jobs for marketing managers vary by location and sector, which may affect roles, responsibilities, opportunities, and salaries. The following sections highlight some of the respective numbers in select industries and locations.

Locations

Wages typically rise and fall depending on a variety of location-based factors, including cost of living, demand, and population density. Rural areas, for example, usually employ fewer business professionals and often pay less than urban areas.

The marketing manager profession follows these same trends, for the most part. The following tables outline the highest-paying states in the country and those employing the most marketing managers.

Annual Mean Wage by State for Marketing Managers, 2019
Top-Paying States Annual Mean Wage

New York $186,350
New Jersey $178,300
Virginia $175,970
Colorado $171,970
California $169,200
Source: BLS
States with the Highest Employment Level of Marketing Managers, 2019
Top-Employing States Number of Marketing Managers Employed
California 40,900
Illinois 21,980
New York 21,550
Massachusetts 16,720
Texas 16,290
Source: BLS

Settings

Much like location, various industries and job sectors influence the marketing manager profession significantly. Certain industries require the services of these professionals more than others, depending on how much they rely on advertising and marketing. Some industries offer higher annual mean wages because they require greater roles and responsibilities from their managers, whereas other sectors just pay more overall.

The following tables highlight the highest-paying industries for marketing managers and those offering the most employment opportunities. These positions may all hold the same or similar titles, but their job descriptions might vary considerably.

Annual Mean Wage by Industry for Marketing Managers, 2019
Top-Paying Industries Annual Mean Wage

Cable and Other Subscription Programming $190,730
Oil and Gas Extraction

$190,070
Scientific Research and Development Services

$188,320
Motion Picture and Video Industries

$179,910
Source: BLS
Industries with the Highest Employment Level of Marketing Managers, 2019
Top-Employing Industries Number of Marketing Managers Employed
Management of Companies and Enterprises 40,300
Computer Systems Design and Related Services 18,830
Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services 17,880
Advertising, Public Relations, and Related Services 9,140
Source: BLS

How to Become a Marketing Manager

Marketing managers typically need a bachelor's degree at minimum. Some employers may not require specific training, but a marketing degree, some technology training, and an understanding of design and media production often helps candidates secure employment. These managers typically need experience, as well. Candidates may satisfy this requirement with marketing experience or leadership experience in other areas of business, such as sales.

Master's degrees, like MBAs, give candidates a highly competitive edge in the job market, demonstrating specialized skills and knowledge in the field. They also typically offer professional experience through internships and practicums.

The Marketing Manager Job Hunt

Prospective marketing managers can find available positions in a variety of ways, such as job fairs, professional organizations, and networking events. Many organizations also look to hire internally or through staff networks, so candidates should build their networks and make their intentions clear.

Candidates can find online job boards and opportunities on Indeed, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and Google's job search. The list below details some industry-specific job boards that might help applicants in their job search.

Marketing Manager Requirements

The credentials required for marketing managers vary by employer, location, and industry, but the following sections review common education and certification requirements for marketing managers.

Education Requirements for Marketing Managers

Education requirements differ by employer, but most organizations want marketing managers to hold bachelor's degrees in business-related disciplines.

Many employers prefer specialized training in marketing or advertising, but a combination of a bachelor's degree and experience often suffices.

Employers also seek out managers with advanced training in one or multiple concentrations. Strong candidates may boast training in consumer behaviors, market research, business communication, and various media production.

Specialized training and degrees can also lead to other professional benefits. Candidates may qualify for higher-paying positions or more advanced job titles.

Acquiring an MBA represents one of the more common options for marketing managers to upgrade their skills and advance their careers. This master's degree helps prepare marketing managers for leadership roles in a variety of industries. Candidates may pursue MBAs with marketing concentrations for even more specialized training.

License and Certification Requirements for Marketing Managers

The marketing manager profession does not feature industry requirements for certifications, but professionals may consider specialized marketing credentials as a way of strengthening their qualifications. Completing the professional certified marketer designation from the American Marketing Association or a certification from the Interactive Advertising Bureau can lead to more opportunities and higher salaries.

Other career development options may include program- or service-specific certifications, like Facebook Blueprint, Google Analytics Individual Qualification, Hootsuite Certifications, and HubSpot Certifications. Professionals can often access these technology certifications through continued education, using them to improve their skills and job prospects.

Required Experience for Marketing Managers

The level of experience required of marketing managers varies by location, employer, and role. While the length of experience differs considerably by position, the type of experience applies more generally. Typically, marketing manager candidates need experience in one or several areas, including sales, advertising, promotions, or media production.

Acquiring an MBA can help candidates gain experience and education, as these degrees may provide internships or practical training in marketing management roles.

Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to become a marketing manager?
Marketing managers typically need a four-year degree and several years of relevant experience. Earning a two-year master's degree may expedite the process to becoming a marketing manager.
What degree is needed to be a marketing manager?
Most marketing managers hold bachelor's degrees in marketing or related disciplines. Some employers may require master's degrees, like MBAs.
Do I need a master's to become a marketing manager?
Some marketing management positions may require candidates to hold master's degrees. Additionally, master's degrees may replace a lack of experience or specialized training.
How much does a marketing manager make?
Marketing manager salaries depend on location, role, and employer, but the annual mean wage for the position is $136,850, according to BLS employment data.
What requirements are there to become a marketing manager?
Usually, employers require marketing managers to possess a combination of education and experience, such as bachelor's degrees and leadership experience.
Are marketing managers in demand?
According to BLS employment data, the marketing profession is projected to grow by 8% from 2018-2028 -- 3% above the national average for all occupations.
Is marketing a stable job?
Marketing represents an essential service for most organizations. While the field changes, most organizations need help to get their products and services to their consumer base effectively.

Professional Organizations and Groups for Marketing Managers

Additional Reading

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