Marketing Career Guide

How to launch your marketing career…in today’s digital-first world

So you want to start your career as a marketer. Congratulations! Marketing is an excellent career choice, for a couple of reasons:

  1. It’s growing with tech. As technical innovation revolutionizes everything from cars to music, marketing is growing and adapting with the technology wave.
  2. It can’t be replaced. Marketing cannot be easily replaced by AI or robots, because it’s fundamentally about understanding and communicating with people.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, marketing jobs are growing at 8% (faster than average).

Starting your marketing career: a 4 year college degree isn’t enough

What’s the best way to start your career in marketing? For many people, the obvious choice is to get a bachelors degree from their favorite university in Marketing. But assuming that a university degree will teach you the skills you need to succeed as a marketer is often a big mistake.

There are two reasons you shouldn’t rely on a college degree to teach you the skills you need:

  • Most colleges emphasize theory over hands-on skills. Read the syllabus for most marketing degrees and you’ll see a lot of courses on economics, marketing strategy, international marketing, management and more. Now go read job descriptions for marketing manager roles in your area–you’ll probably see a lot of hands on skills required such as graphic design, SEO, social media marketing, WordPress, copywriting, and more.
  • Most college textbooks and courses are out of date. The reality is that marketing is today’s fast-paced world changes on a weekly basis. Most marketing is done via search engines, social media, and ad networks, all of which are digital platforms that change how they work on a nearly daily basis. University professors and curriculum simply cannot keep up–by the time the textbook is written, approved, and printed, it’s already out of date. (This is part of the reason many universities focus more on theory and principles than hands on skills.)

Now, I’m not necessarily saying that you shouldn’t get a college degree. There can be value in getting a marketing degree. But what I’m saying is that you’ll probably need to supplement your college degree by learning specific hands on skills. (Unless you’re at one of the few colleges that emphasizes hands-on marketing skills.)

Critical hands on skills for every marketer

So, what skills do you need to know to get a marketing job and crush it? Read the self-taught marketer syllabus for a list of the skills (with resources and courses for each) I believe are needed to succeed in marketing. This syllabus was built based on my 17 years of experience in marketing. In addition to learning marketing myself, I’ve hired and trained a lot of marketers, giving me the opportunity to see which learning approaches best prepare someone for success.