If you have a sales background, or you are merely a persuasive individual looking for a way to blend your interest in business with creative pursuits, you may enjoy majoring in marketing. The essence of marketing is helping businesses grow by creating and employing evidence-based strategies in areas such as branding, design, public relations, social media, search engine optimization (SEO), and many more. By getting the word out about a company or shining a light on how a product or service meets customers' needs and wants, successful marketing teams can increase brand awareness and even increase a company's sales or client base. Marketing is often one of the many specializations available within a business degree program, so a major in marketing can be a great way to select a more narrow focus to a broader business program.
In a marketing major, students learn how to gauge consumers' needs and capitalize on that knowledge to market goods or services on a local, national, and even global level. Marketing majors learn about consumers' buying habits, target marketing, how pricing and advertising impacts sales, the research behind effective marketing, and management strategies for marketing teams. Students also learn about other topics related to marketing, such as logistics, retail and wholesale distribution, customer service, and new product development. Since many successful companies have expanded globally, many of today's marketing degree programs include an international marketing component. For many individuals, a marketing degree is one of the best college degrees for transitioning from a sales job into a marketing department.
Classes and Assignments of a Marketing Major
The types of courses marketing majors take vary greatly depending on the university they attend, the degree level they are seeking, and whether they specialize in a particular area of marketing. For instance, a student specializing in marketing management will take different types of courses than a student specializing in international marketing or digital marketing. In general, however, students will take classes in consumer behavior, information technology in marketing, marketing strategy, marketing channels, retail marketing, integrated marketing communication, sales and advertising management, global marketing, and related areas. Students will also take general business core courses in finance, accounting, management, business law, and economics.
Marketing majors complete assignments that allow them to demonstrate their critical thinking skills in business and marketing. Marketing professors might ask students to draft marketing plans for real or mock businesses that draw from what was learned in texts and lectures. Students may be asked to work in groups for various projects, and market research courses often require students to conduct research on their own. Many marketing programs encourage or require the student to complete a marketing internship. These internships help provide the development and training needed to become a marketing manager in the real world.
Degree Levels for a Marketing Major
- Associate. Online associate marketing degrees equip students with a solid foundation in important areas of marketing, such as identifying market segments, supply and demand, marketing strategy and leadership, and other fundamentals of marketing goods and services. Students choose associate degree programs because they can be completed in a relatively short amount of time, are generally less costly than bachelor's degree programs, and can open doors to positions in sales, merchandising, and marketing, if they have the appropriate qualifications.
- Bachelor's. Online bachelors marketing degrees equip students with a thorough education in marketing coupled with an extensive liberal arts component, often within a broader business program. Students choose bachelor's degrees because they are often an entry-level requirement for the more desirable jobs with marketing firms, advertising firms, PR firms, and with the marketing arms of major businesses and corporations. A bachelor's degree in marketing also provides a good foundation for future graduate study in marketing or the eventual pursuit of an MBA.
- Master's. Online masters marketing degrees are more focused on research, and students delve deeper into the psychology behind consumer behavior, as well as evidence-based management strategies in marketing. Students cultivate the skills needed for a market research analyst or marketing management position. Experienced marketers may choose to pursue a master's degree for the opportunity to update their skill set in areas like new media and emerging technologies.
- Doctoral. Doctoral degree programs in marketing become increasingly focused on a particular specialization, like economics, statistics, or psychology of decision-making, and are typically designed to produce scholars capable of research and teaching at the college level. Advanced courses in marketing are generally intermixed with quantitative models, research methods, and multivariate statistics as applied to marketing concepts. Since most tenure-track faculty hold terminal degrees, a Ph.D. in marketing is the best college degree for future college professors.
A Future as a Marketing Major
Majoring in marketing can lead to a variety of career options. A sampling of job titles posted to the American Marketing Association's job board include marketing research manager, marketing specialist, digital marketing and design specialist, marketing supervisor, digital strategist, director of marketing, and chief marketing officer. Other niche jobs may not have "marketing” in the title, but require the abilities of a business-savvy individual skilled in marketing. Marketing managers earned a median salary of $112,800 as of May 2008, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Market research analysts earned a median salary of $61,070 that same year, the BLS notes.
While it is possible to earn a high salary in marketing and related areas, remember that recent graduates seldom walk right into a management or senior-level staff position. The career path for marketing managers often starts with an entry-level sales or marketing position, from which a person gradually moves up and takes on additional responsibilities. Your salary will reflect your position, experience, location, and the size and type of organization you work for.
Many marketing majors ask themselves the question, "At what age can you be a marketing manager?” but they could be asking the wrong question. A more important question is, "Do you have the talent and experience necessary to be a marketing manager?” Many companies are less concerned with your age than they are with your experience and ability to effectively manage a marketing team. The same is true if you are wondering how to start a career as a marketing analyst. Many professionals work their way up to this position after gathering experience.