Digital Marketing Career Path: Growth Opportunities and Outlook

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The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the digital marketing transformation. To survive, more organizations have embraced digital marketing to engage with homebound customers and clients. With their lives upended by the spread of COVID-19, stay-at-home orders, and subsequent virus spikes requiring quarantines, consumers in 2020 accelerated their adoption of e-commerce over the brick-and-mortar experience.

Because the pivot from traditional to digital marketing was urgent and widespread, digital advertising has become the go-to medium, and is expected to account for a remarkable 55% of total global ad spending by 2022, according to Zenith.

As a result, digital marketing has emerged as a fast-growing career field. Following a digital marketing career path that includes undergraduate and advanced degrees helps candidates find success in this field.

A digital marketer works on a laptop and tablet.

The Role of a Digital Marketer

The urgent shift by consumers to an online lifestyle has created a greater need for skilled marketers to keep up with digital demand. Built upon traditional marketing principles such as product, price, place, and promotion, digital marketing requires a deeper understanding of how to effectively market across online media.

A digital marketing career path can take many shapes. From digital marketing specialists to chief marketing officers, digital marketing roles vary depending on a candidate’s area of expertise. Digital marketing professionals may focus on developing concepts, promoting brands, creating marketing campaigns, writing web content, or fine-tuning search engine optimization (SEO).

The digital marketing field has a technical side as well. Data specialists use metrics and analytics to measure campaigns’ effectiveness and assess clients’ return on their marketing investment.

Digital Marketing Career Growth Opportunities

No particular digital marketing career path is right for everyone. Those interested in digital marketing may find entry-level positions through social media and SEO roles.

Professional experience and education can boost a candidate’s competitive advantage. For instance, a bachelor’s or master’s degree may be required for advanced positions, especially those serving as managers or directors.

Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

While some prospective digital marketers may find entry-level positions as social media coordinators or in SEO roles, the best first step for those embarking on a digital marketing career path is to earn an undergraduate degree. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most people in the field have a bachelor’s. A degree in business law, management, economics, or finance can all help to set a candidate apart, as can a degree in computer science, math, or statistics for marketing roles that focus on data analysis. Expertise in consumer behavior, marketing, market research, communication methods, and technology are all pluses.

Gain Work Experience

Digital marketing roles can involve advertising, promotions, sales, or marketing. Job titles for candidates entering the digital marketing field can include buyer agent, sales representative, or public relations specialist. The best way to break into the industry is with an entry-level position in marketing to learn a basic understanding of marketing and to master soft skills. From here, the next step is to gain management experience by researching and devising marketing strategies and developing leadership skills.

Earn a Master’s Degree

For prospective digital marketers aspiring to contribute at higher levels, the next step in the digital marketing career path is to earn a master’s degree, such as an online MBA in marketing. A master’s degree may be required for advanced positions, especially those serving as managers or directors, and can help candidates with work experience become more competitive for high-level roles. Titles at this level include director of marketing and vice president of digital marketing. Chief marketing officers (CMOs) oversee the return on investment for all marketing activities, and often have a decade or two of experience.

Seek Certification

A number of platforms offer certification to digital marketing professionals, including Google Analytics IQ Certification, Google Digital Garage’s Fundamentals of Digital Marketing Certification, Hootsuite Social Marketing Certification, and HubSpot Content Marketing Certification, among many others. For those seeking a competitive advantage, professional certification demonstrates to employers that candidates are equipped with the latest knowledge of marketing trends and emerging technologies.

Digital Marketing Salary and Outlook

The median annual salary for marketing managers was $136,850 as of May 2019, according to the BLS, with those in the highest 10% of the range earning more than $208,000 and those in the bottom 10% earning less than $71,010. Experience, education level, and job location can all influence the salaries of digital marketing professionals.

Salaries for marketing jobs also vary by industry. According to the BLS, marketing managers working in the finance and insurance sector had the highest median annual salary of $145,720 in 2019. Professionals in management roles at companies and enterprises had a median salary of $145,510, similar to digital marketers working at professional, scientific, and technical services firms, whose median salary was $145,300. Marketing managers working in the manufacturing sector had a median annual salary of $138,950. Those serving in the wholesale trade industry had a median annual salary of $128,680.

The job market for digital marketers is promising. The BLS, which includes digital marketers in the category of marketing managers, projects the field to grow 7% between 2019 and 2029, faster than the average for all occupations. The BLS attributes digital marketing career growth to organizations needing marketers to develop and oversee marketing campaigns to boost their market share. Clients also look to digital marketers to find new markets and pricing strategies.

While other types of marketing activities were stymied by the coronavirus pandemic, digital marketing has emerged as a growth vehicle. Skilled marketers who effectively navigate the digital world have the best job prospects, according to the BLS.

The outlook for digital marketing is a bright spot among pandemic trends. Consumer habits have permanently changed, including values, attitudes, and behavior. Accenture projects a 169% rise in e-commerce purchases post-pandemic from new or low-frequency online users. Similarly, global media company GroupM forecasts marketers of all sizes will continue their accelerated pace of investment in digital media through 2021 and beyond.

Explore a Career in Digital Marketing

Benefit from the transformation that has sparked digital marketing career growth and assist organizations as they navigate the changing business landscape. Discover how Maryville University’s online Master of Business Administration program with a concentration in marketing or emerging and digital media can help put you on a digital marketing career path.

Recommended Reading

MBA vs. MPA: Choosing the Best Path for You

What Can You Do With an MBA?

Why Pursue an Online MBA Degree?

Sources

Accenture, “COVID-19: New Habits Are Here to Stay for Retail Consumers”

Brandastic, “25 Digital Marketing Certifications That Get You Hired in 2021”

Forbes, “What Are the Pros and Cons of a Career in Digital Marketing?”

Google Analytics Academy

Google Digital Garage

GroupM, “This Year Next Year: U.S. End-of-Year Forecast”

Hootsuite Academy, Social Marketing Certification Course

HubSpot Academy, Certification Overview

Setup, The Marketing Career Path: From Entry-Level to Chief Marketing Officer

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

Zenith, “Coronavirus Crisis Accelerates Shift to Digital Advertising”

ZipRecruiter, What Are Different Careers in Digital Marketing?

ZipRecruiter, What Does the Career Path of a Director of Digital Marketing Look Like?