How to Become an Advertising Manager

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects faster growth for advertising managers than the average for all occupations by 2026. One reason is because today’s digital marketing landscape is evolving rapidly, and the role of advertising manager is essential to ensure organizations remain competitive. A bachelor’s degree in communication can help inform the career path of those who are interested in how to become an advertising manager by exposing them to the skill set needed to work effectively with clients and reach target markets.

What an Advertising Manager Does

Advertising managers are charged with creating and planning programs to generate interest in products or services. They work in roles such as account executives in advertising agencies, media directors in media agencies, and communications managers in public relations firms. In an agency environment, an advertising manager serves as a liaison between clients and the agency.

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During marketing campaign planning, advertising managers determine not only the best content for particular audiences but also the best mediums for each campaign, which can include platforms such as television, print, digital, and billboards. A relatively recent and important responsibility is to stay up-to-date on the latest techniques for creating advertising campaigns on social media. Advertising managers may also oversee the negotiation of advertising contracts and media placements, maintain client relationships, evaluate the aesthetics of print and online layouts, and conduct research studies to better understand audience behaviors and market opportunities.

Typical Steps to Becoming an Advertising Manager

The following steps can start a student or career changer on the path to becoming an advertising manager. Undergraduate study can open doors to a diverse range of advertising opportunities and pursuing an advanced degree, such as an MBA in marketing, can increase the possibility of achieving career goals more efficiently. The advertising manager position is not an entry-level role and therefore also requires years of on-the-job experience.

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

While organizations consider candidates with various types of bachelor’s degrees, a Bachelor of Arts in communication can be particularly useful in preparing to become an advertising manager. In these programs, students gain the versatile skills needed to keep up with an ever-changing and unpredictable marketing environment, where consumers are constantly bombarded with messages.

The typical undergraduate communication curriculum offers concentrations in various areas, including strategic communications, media strategy, and social media. The multifaceted program can also lead to an internship, which is an excellent opportunity to work with advertising and media professionals in a real-world setting and to gain experience using communication tools to interact with clients.

Step 2: Build On-the-Job Experience

The path to becoming an advertising manager usually starts with an entry-level position, such as a media or advertising associate, account coordinator, advertising sales assistant, or junior creative team member (often in a brand planning or art role). In agency environments, employees might then advance to a supervisor role, helping entry-level employees move advertising layouts through approval phases in various departments. This provides valuable exposure to the cross-functional communication needed to successfully execute a campaign from beginning to end. In addition, future advertising managers gain a keen awareness of the impact of brand consistency, attention to detail, and willingness to work with clients on a shared vision.

The progression of an advertising career then moves on to a mid-level role, such as advertising manager. Because they worked their way up through the ranks, advertising managers know the importance of every department involved in the process, as well as how to effectively communicate with key members. In addition, they have gained exposure to various media platforms, including traditional print, social media, broadcast, and digital.

Step 3: Pursue a Master’s Degree (Optional)

While earning an advanced degree is not required to become an advertising manager, an MBA in marketing can potentially help professionals advance to this role faster. It can also increase the potential of qualifying for a higher salary, a larger bonus, or more diverse career opportunities. An MBA in marketing includes courses that supplement the core business curriculum of a bachelor’s degree and focuses on relevant advertising topics, such as consumer behavior, social networking, and search engine optimization.

Skills an Advertising Manager Needs

The role of advertising manager requires a diverse skill set. While creativity and out-of-the-box thinking are needed, many strategic decisions are based on quantifiable factors, such as numbers and percentages that are revealed through targeted market research. Advertising managers are also ideally natural communicators, working with every department in the organization to ensure it operates with a clear, consistent brand message and an advertising strategy that aligns with the organization’s mission and value proposition. They are also highly organized, tasked with managing their time and budgets efficiently while ensuring staff members are producing creative, targeted content.

Advertising Manager Salaries and Outlook

While it will vary by occupation, the overall employment of advertising managers is expected to grow 10 percent from 2016 to 2026. Recent BLS data show that the median annual wage for advertising managers is $106,130.

Start Your Journey to Becoming an Advertising Manager Today

A career as an advertising manager can be an exciting, fulfilling one that stays in tune with current marketing and cultural trends. It’s a job uniquely positioned to influence public perception and heighten brand awareness, which can be challenging and invigorating in today’s technology-driven, fast-paced world.

Learn more about  Maryville University’s online Bachelor of Arts in communication program and how developing communication and media skills can build a foundation for advertising career opportunities.


Maryville University, Careers with a Communication Bachelor’s Degree

Maryville University, Online Bachelor of Arts in Communication

Maryville University, Online MBA in Marketing

PR Daily, “Social Media Leads the Way in Online Advertising”

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers

O*NET, Advertising and Promotions Managers