Whether you’re driving down the road, watching TV, flipping through a magazine, or surfing the Web, you come into contact with advertising in some form or another. As an area of study and potential career, there’s plenty to explore, too, from the creative side – writing the copy and design the ad – to sales – selling and placing the ads in various media. Those who have an eye for detail, are good with words, and have an interest in psychology, art, or graphics may be drawn to the creative side, while those who lean more towards business or math may be drawn towards the management or sales side.
Given the diversity to the field, your area of interest in advertising and promotion will largely determine the types of courses you take and skills you develop through an advertising degree. Though generally, you’ll learn how corporations and businesses communicate to the public through advertising, how to create advertising strategies and campaigns, and work with both online and offline media. Digital media especially, which includes the Internet and wireless devices, is a growing area of study, as the advertising industry is currently exploring new ways to promote products and services digitally beyond traditional print, radio, and television.
Classes and Assignments of an Advertising Major
Not all advertising degrees go by the same name – programs in business, communications, marketing, and, of course, advertising may provide a relevant education. You just have to know what to look for. If you’re geared toward the creative side, you’ll want to take courses like copywriting, fundamentals of media, illustrating, consumer behavior, advertising design and production methods, campaign methods and techniques, advertising theory, art history, and photography. See yourself in sales or management side? Accounting, business law, economics, statistics, business, and marketing classes will suit you best. Those interested more in the public relations and promotion side might take courses in public affairs, public speaking, political science, and creative and technical writing.
Regardless of the types of program you choose, advertising degrees tend to involve a lot of consumer and marketing research, as well as hands-on activities, such as planning, creating, and even implementing campaigns. To that end, internships are often encouraged so students can apply their learning and skills to real-world situations. Because of the variety in program offerings, you’ll want to research a number of campus-based and online degrees to find the one that best suits your needs.
Degree Levels for an Advertising Major
- Associate. Online associate advertising degrees often will provide an introduction to both the creative and business side of the field, with classes like copywriting and account supervisions. The degree generally prepares students for advanced study at the bachelor’s level, or entry-level work as account managers, copywriters, or assistant art directors.
- Bachelor’s. Most accounting firms and companies desire applicants with a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, making it one of the most useful college degrees you can pursue for positions at ad agencies, corporations, or not-for-profit organizations at an advanced level. Courses generally give students an understanding of the components of an advertising campaign, including planning, designing, writing copy, and selling or managing advertising. Multimedia skills, such as Web design and online advertising, are increasingly becoming large parts of bachelor’s programs, too, as is consumer and marketing research. Students tend to earn either a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Advertising of a Bachelor of Science in Business, with a focus on advertising or marketing.
- Master’s. Those seeking to expand their repertoire in advertising, advance their careers, or continue to even higher education may consider online masters advertising degrees. These often hands-on, professional programs continue to develop advertising fundamentals, digital media skills, and management techniques. Applicants tend to have a few years experience before applying, so self paced online masters degree programs are an attractive option for those who want to stay in the field while continuing their education.
- Doctoral. For a career in academia, whether for scholarly research or teaching at the college level, online doctoral advertising degrees are key. There are limited options for advertising programs per se, so applicants may pursue such areas as communications, marketing, or business, depending on their interest. Ph.D. candidates generally take classes, assist professors in research, and work on their dissertation. Once finished, they often continue on in education, working as professors at colleges or universities, and conducting research in their area of expertise.
A Future as an Advertising Major
Employment in advertising is expected to grow as fast as average for other occupations – about 13% through 2008 – according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This growth will be spurred by increasing competition among corporations selling products as well as the gaining influence of advertising in digital media. Despite this growth, advertising is a highly competitive field, with firms vying for top applicants, so a degree from an accredited institution in advertising or related field may help provide strong credentials.
Graduates of advertising programs may find work in marketing, promotions, public relations, or sales, with the average department consisting of creative directors, account executives, copywriters, media planners and buyers, salespeople, and researchers. Salary varies from job title to job title. According to the BLS, the mean annual wage for advertising and promotions managers is $98, 720; for marketing managers, it’s $122,720; for public relations and fundraising managers, it’s $104,390; and for sales managers, it’s $114,110. However, keep in mind that salaries and job availability can vary greatly depending on your employer, experience, and location.
Students with a degree in Advertising are considered well prepared for
becoming Advertising and promotions managers.