Is an Advertising Degree Right for You?

Since advertising is such a competitive field with more qualified applicants than available jobs, an advertising degree is best suited for tenacious people who are fully committed to advertising as a lifelong career. Advertising majors must be prepared to go the extra mile even for entry-level jobs.

Most careers in advertising require a college degree, and relevant internships or a strong background in sales can help set advertising graduates apart from the pack, according to the Advertising Educational Foundation (AEF). An online advertising degree is a solid choice for people who are business-minded, but who also have the capacity to be creative, as advertising entails both artistic and marketing strengths, the AEF explained.

Advice for Earning Your Advertising Degree Online

Before enrolling in any online advertising degree program, we recommend that students look closely over the curriculum and select programs that require them to complete internships and/or portfolios before graduation, as this will best set up students to succeed in the industry. Beyond this, students should research the professional backgrounds of their faculty to see if any match their own professional interests, and look for schools with strong advertising clubs, such as active college chapters of the American Advertising Federation.

This will allow students to build the kind of professional network that can help them land jobs after graduation. Finally, students should consider schools accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC) for their advertising programs.

Required Courses

To excel in an advertising career, you must have a firm grasp of concepts in advertising theory, marketing strategy, media management, business management, and consumer behavior. High-quality programs often conclude with students assembling a portfolio of advertisements that they can later present to potential employers. Other required courses might include:

  • Account Planning
  • Writing for Marketing and Advertising
  • Advertising Research and Sales
  • Creative Strategy
  • Principles of Advertising
  • Retail Advertising

Common Career Paths

A bachelor’s in advertising may lead to careers with nonprofits and Web development companies, or corporate and sales positions. Salaries for these careers can vary greatly depending on your level of experience, the size and type of your employer, and the area of the country you live in. Some possible career titles for advertising graduates include (but are not limited to):

Advertising Managers

  • Expected Growth: 13%
  • Average Annual Salary: $103,350

Advertising managers are sales professionals who are responsible for getting consumers interested in a company’s product or service. They accomplish this by directing advertising campaigns, selecting the media through which the campaign will be advertised, and by managing staff who work together to make advertising campaigns possible.

A bachelor’s degree in advertising or journalism, coupled with relevant experience, is typically required for such positions, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Job growth projections and salary figures are provided by the BLS here and here.

Advertising Sales Agents

  • Expected Growth: 13%
  • Average Annual Salary: $55,430

Advertising sales agents sell advertising space to clients in print, online, and other media, such as newspapers, magazines, billboards, TV commercials, radio commercials, etc. They must be able to anticipate their clients’ needs, recommend the most appropriate advertising solution, discuss costs, and provide proofs of the final product before it is printed or goes live.

While it’s possible to get into the field with a high school diploma, a degree is often preferred and advertising course work is helpful, the BLS explained. Job growth projections and salary figures are provided by the BLS.

Art Directors

  • Expected Growth: 9%
  • Average Annual Salary: $95,500

Art directors are creative professionals who design visual effects and photos in various media, including magazines and newspapers, the packaging on different products, and even the art in film and television. About 12% of these professionals work for ad firms, while the rest work in publishing, design services firms, and in the film and video industries, the BLS explained. Job growth projections and salary figures shown above are provided by the BLS.

Public Relations Managers or Specialists

  • Expected Growth: 21%
  • Average Annual Salary: $60,400

Advertising and public relations professionals both require similar skills in tailoring a specific message for a mass audience. Public relations specialists are responsible for promoting a positive image for a company, brand, or particular product or service. They often reach out to the media through press releases to get the word out about relevant news related to the entity they represent. Job growth projections and salary figures shown above are provided by the BLS.

Graphic Designers

  • Expected Growth: 13%
  • Average Annual Salary: $48,690

Advertising professionals who excel at the creative side of the field may decide to branch out into graphic design. Graphic designers create a compelling visual concept intended to draw in consumers toward a particular company, brand, or website using professional software tools. Another way graphic design coincides with advertising is in the role graphic designers increasingly play in product marketing. The above job growth projections and salary figures are provided by the BLS.


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