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Digital Marketing Career Path

Digital Marketing Career Path: Education Requirements and Jobs

Digital marketing, or online marketing, refers to the use of digital tools and platforms, such as search engines, social media, email, and websites, to promote a business's products or services. In a world that relies increasingly on remote communication, nearly all businesses need a digital marketing strategy to maximize brand awareness and reach their full potential. Digital marketing includes numerous symbiotic fields, which has resulted in countless different digital marketing roles to choose from. If you’re interested in this career path, keep reading to learn all the important details, including job responsibilities, steps to become a digital marketer, job outlook, and salary expectations of common digital marketing jobs.

The Importance of Digital Marketing

In the age of the internet, digital marketing efforts reach a significantly larger audience than traditional marketing methods. Digital marketing is also more cost-effective than traditional advertising and enables you to measure the success of your campaigns through data collection and analysis. Think of it this way: you could spend $10,000 a month on a billboard that only reaches people who happen to drive by it, and without a scientific way to measure revenue generated by it. Or you can spend half that (or significantly less) on a digital ad that reaches a nationwide audience with results that are surgically measurable. With the latter, you have access to a much larger market, you’re able to measure success to a T, and you can instantly edit ad specifications according to performance. 

It doesn’t stop there. The benefits of digital marketing are plenty, as they

  • Allow you to focus efforts on only the prospects most likely to purchase the product or service.
  • Are more cost-effective than outbound marketing methods.
  • Allow smaller brands to compete with bigger ones in the industry. 
  • Are completely measurable.
  • Allow for constant testing and optimization.
  • Improve the conversion rate and lead quality.

How to Begin Your Digital Marketing Career

Digital marketing is an interesting field for people with a marketing educational background, as well as those with creative and analytical skills. The field has many entry-level roles for you to learn, sharpen your skills, and earn certifications, setting you up to have success later in advanced leadership roles. Here is a step-by-step guide to expedite your journey to become a digital marketing professional.

Steps to Become a Digital Marketer

Step One: Research the Career

Check out WGU’s digital marketing career guide so you can know what to expect along the way. Familiarize yourself with the academic journey, the salary expectations, the responsibilities for this type of work, and determine whether you would enjoy working in this field.

Step Two: Earn a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing or a Similar Field

An estimated 77% of professional digital marketers hold a bachelor’s degree, so this is a highly recommended first step. In your degree program, you’ll learn the cutting-edge marketing methods that drive revenue for some of the largest companies in the world, on top of traditional techniques that remain effective today. WGU's online marketing bachelor’s degree focuses on the critical skills you need to thrive, including consumer behavior, marketing analytics, sales management, branding, content creation, communication, and more. You'll graduate from this program with the expertise to analyze consumer behavior and develop strategies for products and services. This program, complete with highly applicable topics and skills, will prepare you to work effectively in teams in a variety of industries and have a successful, fulfilling career. 

Step Three: Earn an MBA (Master of Business Administration)

If your passion is helping grow businesses and you want to push your marketing career to the next level, consider earning your MBA. You can do this immediately following your bachelor’s degree or you can work in your field for a few years before pursuing your master’s degree—both routes are common. What you learn in an MBA program will reinforce the skills you gained in your bachelor’s degree program and add a robust set of critical skills that will help you become a leader of highly profitable, innovative businesses. In WGU’s MBA program, you’ll take courses such as Managing Organizations and Leading People, Managing Human Capital, Management Communication, Global Economics for Managers, Financial Management, Accounting for Decision Makers, Ethical Leadership, as well as courses that will deepen your knowledge in the marketing field

Step Four: Get an Entry-Level Job in Marketing

You will be eligible for different entry-level jobs depending on whether you have your bachelor’s degree or master’s. Typically, graduates will spend the first few years of their career in digital marketing specialist, associate, and coordinator roles, sharpening their skills and gaining important certifications and experience.

Step Five: Earn Certifications Relevant to Your Niche and Continue Learning

Marketing best practices are constantly changing, so it’s important to always seek certifications in new, popular technology and software so that you can remain up-to-date and competitive in the job market. The most successful marketers also engage in extra-curricular learning. Find the thought leaders in your niche of marketing and read their blogs, sign-up for their newsletters, and follow them on LinkedIn so that you can stay in the loop on current conversations in the field.

Other Tips

There are many things you can do to make yourself more competitive in the job market. Since marketing is a creative career, you should use tools and digital platforms to showcase the unique vision and abilities you bring to the table. Here are some additional tips for standing out as a digital marketer: 

  • Networking: Marketers rely on ideas and experimentation from other marketers. Keeping a robust network of like-minded, motivated professionals will allow you to tap into successful methods from your peers and will help you get your foot in the door to potential jobs.  
  • Create your website: This is a particularly important step if you want to work as a freelancer or start your own business as a digital marketer. Creating your own website is the best way to showcase your services and capture leads for new clients. 
  • Create your portfolio: Your portfolio is the body of your best work. It allows you to exhibit the breadth and depth of your experience as a digital marketer and will come in handy when applying for jobs. 

Digital Marketing Entry-Level Roles

As an aspiring digital marketer, you have many niches you can choose from. If you’re just starting off, consider researching and seeking entry -level roles such as: 

Digital Marketing Skills

Although there are many diverse roles you can hold as a digital marketer, there is a set of general skills that most—if not all—marketers should have. For example, even if a person works as a copywriter, having a deeper understanding of SEO can help them be better at their job and portray themselves as better candidates when seeking new job opportunities. It also gives you the mobility to wear many different hats or switch job titles. 

Some important general digital marketing soft skills include: 

  • Advertising expertise
  • Sales skills
  • Accurate thinking
  • Analytical skills
  • Creative abilities

In addition to these soft skills, you’ll need to know how to use different software and tools to be a successful digital marketer. Some of the most widely used marketing tools include:

  • SEMRush: A search engine marketing tool that helps companies reach their audience through SEO, content marketing, competitor research, PPC, and social media marketing. 
  • Hootsuite: A social media scheduling tool that allows you to plan posts on social media, complete with native analytics to help you more effectively communicate with your audience.
  • Vimeo: A video hosting and sharing platform specializing in B2B marketing content.
  • MailChimp: An email marketing and automation service used to communicate with and convert customers.
  • Canva: A user-friendly graphic design platform that allows users to create visual content for any platform.
  • WordPress: A website-hosting platform that allows organizations and individuals to create and manage their own websites and content.

Digital Marketing Career Outlook

The average digital marketer earns $84,633 per year. Generally, entry-level roles earn around $51,056 per year on average. Depending on your experience and geographical location, digital marketing salaries vary drastically. In fact, The U.S. Bureau of Labor (BLS) reports a higher average. Since this is a performance-driven field, you can expect promotions and salary raises as you have success in your role. 

According to the BLS, overall employment of advertising, promotions, and marketing managers is projected to grow by 10% from 2020 to 2030, which equates to about 35,000 new digital marketing jobs per year over the course of the decade. 

Digital Marketing Education Requirements

Although some digital marketers will come into the field without a marketing education, getting a marketing degree gives you a comprehensive foundation for the rest of your career and gives future employers the assurance that you really know your stuff. It’s not impossible to succeed without a marketing degree, but it certainly elongates the path to success and may bar you from roles that you want. A bachelor’s degree in marketing is perfectly satisfactory for most roles. However, for leadership or better-paying roles, you should consider getting a master’s degree in marketing or an MBA degree to learn about business as well. 

WGU’s marketing and business administration degree programs are online and accelerated, so you can take courses from anywhere and don’t need to spend four years in school before beginning your career. Our flexible, competency-based curriculum allows you to move through your coursework at your own pace, advancing when you master the material. Many of our students work full-time jobs, maintain their personal lives, and care for their families while in our degree programs because WGU believes that you shouldn’t have to make those sacrifices to get a high-quality education from an accredited institution. College is typically expensive, which is why WGU has some of the most competitive rates per semester and offers financial aid options. If you believe a digital marketing career is right for you and you’re ready to start your academic journey, WGU ticks every box.

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