Marketing Manager Career Overview

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Marketing managers help businesses develop engaging content and connect with rewarding consumer markets. This leadership role demands strong creative and analytical skills. Marketing managers work in teams to track industry trends and develop profitable advertising strategies.

A marketing manager career appeals to many learners because of the field’s high salary potential and solid job growth. As of 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the top 10% of earners in this position made annual salaries exceeding $208,000. The BLS projects a 10% growth for marketing manager jobs from 2020-2030.

About half of marketing manager jobs are in advertising, public relations, and related services. Employers usually want marketing managers to hold a bachelor’s or master’s degree and relevant work experience.

This page offers a close look at how to become a marketing manager. We explore skills, training, and job duties for anyone looking to enter this role.

Explore This Page: Required Skills | How to Become a Marketing Manager | Degree Requirements | Interview With a Marketing Manager | Career and Salary Outlook | Top Locations for Marketing Managers | FAQ

What Does a Marketing Manager Do?

Marketing managers’ main goal is to deliver a company’s service or product to the most profitable markets at the right time. These professionals develop promotional strategies using channels such as social media, digital marketing, and direct mail.

Marketing managers play an essential role for businesses of all sizes. Their responsibilities include organizing teams, conducting research on marketing strategies and existing products, and collaborating with media organizations.

Marketing managers’ main goal is to deliver a company’s service or product to the most profitable markets at the right time.

Some marketing managers work as members of a single company’s in-house team. Marketing managers can also be part of an agency where they serve many clients at once.

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 creatively when tackling problems. They must devise imaginative solutions and craft successful marketing plans.
  • Communication Skills: Strong writing and speaking skills allow marketing managers to communicate effectively across many formats. These skills help marketing campaigns communicate the most effective messages.
  • Organizational Skills: Marketing managers lean on organizational skills to set priorities and manage their time efficiently.

Key Hard Skills for Marketing Managers

  • Media Production: Marketing managers work with many promotional methods and materials. They should understand various media production formats, such as digital marketing, video production, and multimedia design.
  • Technological Skills: Marketing managers need tech skills to use customer relationship management software. They also interact with various databases and web platforms.
  • Research Skills: Research skills help marketing professionals identify consumer trends. These skills allow marketing managers to develop market research strategies and evaluate the research others prepare.
  • Sales Skills: Sales skills help marketing managers understand the relationships between companies and consumers. Managers also use sales techniques to better reach their target audiences.

A Day in the Life of a Marketing Manager

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

On a given day, marketing managers may perform some of the following tasks:

  • Research the market for product or service prospects.
  • Create or revise marketing strategies to meet organizational objectives.
  • Work with other departments to budget, plan, and coordinate development, launch, and management.
  • Develop and maintain promotional campaigns.
  • Produce advertising campaigns to 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 and future operations.

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How to Become a Marketing Manager

Marketing managers usually need at least a bachelor’s degree. Some employers do not require specific training, but many prefer a marketing or business degree. Technology training and an understanding of design and media production can also help candidates stand out.

Managers typically need marketing experience. A leadership background in other business areas, such as sales, can also meet this requirement.

Master’s degrees, like MBAs, often provide a competitive edge in the job market. A graduate degree can help job-seekers build specialized skills and knowledge. Master’s programs may also offer professional experience through internships and practicums.

Marketing Manager Requirements

Necessary credentials for marketing managers vary by employer, location, and industry. The following sections review common education and experience requirements for marketing managers.

Education Requirements for Marketing Managers

Most organizations look for marketing managers with business-related bachelor’s degrees.

Many employers prefer specialized training in marketing or advertising, but a bachelor’s degree combined with experience is often enough.

Employers also seek out managers with advanced training in one or more concentrations. Strong candidates may have backgrounds in areas like consumer behaviors, market research, business communication, and media production.

Specialized education can also lead to other professional benefits. Candidates may qualify for higher-paying positions or promotions. Earning an MBA is a common way for marketing managers to upgrade their skills and advance their careers. MBAs with marketing concentrations offer even more targeted training.

Explore top schools for online MBAs in marketing

Required Experience for Marketing Managers

Required experience for marketing managers varies by location, employer, and role. The amount of experience mandated may differ by position, but the type of experience applies more generally. Many marketing manager candidates have worked in areas like sales, advertising, promotions, and media production.

Completing an MBA program can help candidates gain experience. These degrees may provide internships or practical training in marketing management roles.

Insights From a Marketing Manager

Portrait of Adam Sanders

Adam Sanders

Adam Sanders is the founder of The Relaunch Pad, an organization dedicated to helping historically excluded populations find financial and professional success. Prior to founding The Relaunch Pad, 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 performance and optimizing current campaigns, building partnerships, and 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. For several years, I had been volunteering as a teacher and program leader, helping former felons find success after prison, 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 data, marketing management is one of the highest-paying professions in the United States. Marketing remains an essential function for most organizations, so demand for marketing managers will likely stay consistent.

The BLS projects job growth for marketing managers to stay on par with other occupations at 10% from 2020-2030. The ongoing shift from print to digital media will force organizations to continue adapting their marketing efforts.

The rise of electronic media affects how organizations manage their marketing. Evolving media formats also change marketing’s reach and influence. This fundamental change leads to new specializations, like social media, and new chances for marketers to take advantage of emerging opportunities. Marketing management professionals with specialized skills can expect to stay employed and well-compensated for their work.

Where Can I Work as a Marketing Manager?

Salary expectations for marketing managers vary by factors like location, experience, and education. Candidates with a master’s degree, such as an MBA in marketing, may earn more than those with a bachelor’s degree.

Marketing managers in the insurance and finance industry, for example, earned a median annual salary of $150,280 as of 2020, according to BLS employment data.

Industry can also affect salary expectations. Marketing managers in the insurance and finance industry, for example, earned a median annual salary of $150,280 as of 2020, according to BLS employment data. At the lower end, wholesale trade marketing managers made an annual median wage of $134,630.

Top Locations for Marketing Managers

Location may affect marketing managers’ roles, responsibilities, opportunities, and salaries. Location-based factors like cost of living, demand, and population density can cause wages to rise and fall. Rural areas, for example, usually employ fewer business professionals. As a result, marketing manager jobs in these areas often pay less than in cities.

The following tables outline the highest-paying states in the country and the states that employ the most marketing managers.

Professional Organizations for Marketing Managers

Marketing managers benefit from engaging with organizations that support professionals in their field. These societies offer networking opportunities for both students and professionals. Members also enjoy access to job boards, career counseling, and online publications.

  • American Advertising Federation

    The AAF provides networking opportunities and online resources for marketing professionals. The federation also offers student resources, including a dedicated career growth conference.

  • American Marketing Association

    AMA members can take advantage of training seminars, conferences, and certification courses. Membership also includes access to marketing news, academic papers, and e-books. The association’s website covers trending topics in marketing strategies, research, branding, and customer experience.

  • Public Relations Society of America

    PRSA is the United States’ leading communications professional organization. Its website includes professional development resources and webinars. The society also offers certification and on-demand, remote training options. Members receive special pricing for workshops and conferences.

  • Sales and Marketing Executives International

    SMEI provides networking opportunities and specialized training materials for marketing and sales professionals. The organization also offers certification by exam in either sales and marketing.

Common Questions About Marketing Managers

  • Do marketing managers make a lot of money?

    Yes. Marketing manager jobs typically pay well. According to the BLS, these professionals earned a median annual salary of $141,490 as of 2020. This rate is about $100,000 higher than the national average for all occupations.

  • What skills do you need to be a marketing manager?

    Successful marketing professionals need excellent communication skills. Marketing managers must work effectively with their colleagues throughout the promotions, marketing, and advertising process. They also need analytical, interpersonal, and organizational skills.

  • Is marketing a good career?

    Yes. The job outlook for marketing managers looks bright. The BLS projects a 10% job growth in the field from 2020-2030. According to the BLS, marketing managers’ expert advice will continue to be in demand across industries.

  • What types of jobs can I get with a marketing degree?

    Professionals with a marketing degree often pursue careers in brand management or general marketing management. The degree can even lead to a CEO position with a marketing focus. Common job titles include marketing strategist, brand manager, and marketing manager.

  • Do I need a license or certifications to become a marketing manager?

    No. Marketing managers do not need a particular license or certification. Some professionals choose to earn a certification to bolster their credentials. Popular options include the AMA’s professional certified marketer certification.


Featured Image: kate_sept2004 / E+ / Getty Images

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