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What is the Best Degree Path to Become a Marketing Manager?


Marketing managers are one of the highest-paying job titles you can have in America, with the US Bureau of Labor Statistics setting the median yearly salary at $134,290 in 2018. This fact alone can make marketing manager a very attractive career choice for some, but high-paying jobs are generally paid so well for a reason—immense responsibilities or top tier educational requirements, for example, are common answers as to why a job’s salary seems high. And unlike many other top paying business management careers, the demand for marketing managers is increasing, so there’s plenty of room at the top for those with the ambition to go after it. But just what is the catch with marketing manager positions, and what do you need to do have the best odds at landing one? Let’s take a look at some of the education and experience you’ll need before you can get started as a marketing manager.

As you might expect for any job that’s bringing down six figures, the first thing you’ll need is a college degree. A general business degree can provide you the footing you need to get started, so if you’ve already earned one, there’s no need to fret. For those who haven’t finished their degree yet, however, a better option might be to choose a program that’s much more heavily focused on marketing. Many business schools offer concentrations within the degree program in areas like marketing or advertising, which can ensure that you have all the education you might need in your intended area of specialization. These programs tackle material like data analysis, market research, digital marketing, and constructing predictive models, which equip marketing majors with the tools needed for success in the field. Companies live and die by their marketing plans, so a complete and thorough understanding is truly critical.

Another option is to pursue a business management degree. As a marketing manager, you will be just as responsible for leading the employees within your marketing department as you are for making decisions and presenting that marketing data. By obtaining an education in management techniques, you can learn ways to direct and encourage the members of your team and help them be as productive as possible. It would still be advisable to take as many courses in marketing as you can, but a solid foundation in both areas can serve you greatly and help you to stand out in terms of leadership capability.

Alternatively, why choose one when you can get an education in both? A Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) can be an extremely valuable degree to marketing managers, even though it’s not commonly required. MBA programs tend to have a heavy focus on leadership, management, and the running of businesses and departments, offering an opportunity to get that formal education in marketing as an undergraduate while cementing your skill at management with a higher level degree. MBAs also tend to garner respect, and may give you a leg up on the competition, since you’ll have the documentation to prove your competency. There are also MBA programs out there that focus on marketing, offering a more nuanced and complex look at marketing topics which can be difficult to obtain otherwise. No matter your concentration, earning an MBA will bring you the prestige that comes with the highest levels of education and demonstrate your dedication to the field.

Of course, there’s more to becoming a marketing manager than just holding degrees. You’ll likely need a history of work in marketing, advertising, or sales that proves you truly understand the work and can offer your company what they need. Exactly how much work history may depend on the size of your company and the team you’ll be leading, but five years is not an uncommon starting point. Marketing managers of today will need to be skilled with computers and knowledgeable about modern digital marketing techniques. Understanding and utilizing consumer data to best target likely purchasers will be one of the key ways to lead the company to success in the coming years. The more experience you can obtain that’s related to these techniques, the better off you’re likely to be.

The path to becoming a marketing manager isn’t a particularly complex one, but it will require dedication and determination to see it through. Earning a bachelor’s in business management or marketing will provide you with the knowledge needed to get your career started in the field. After graduation, find a job in a marketing or advertising department and take this opportunity to learn from your peers and superiors, because real-world experience is tough to replace. With a few years of experience under your belt, you may already be set when it comes to finding a job as a marketing manager, but if not, an MBA can provide the extra education and respectability you need to land that job you’ve been dreaming of.