Guide to College Majors in Marketing

In the modern world of business, it is useless to be a creative original thinker unless you can also sell what you create. Management cannot be expected to recognize a good idea unless it is presented to them by a good salesman.
--David M. Ogilvy
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What is Marketing?

The common perception of marketing is that it's purely the promotional efforts that go into selling a product. Back in 1935, the National Association of Marketing Teachers, a predecessor of the American Marketing Association (AMA), defined marketing as "the performance of business activities that direct the flow of goods and services from producer to consumer or user." The AMA's current definition is more broad: "Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large." It describes an organized behavior system that generates value for consumers.

More than just window dressing, the foundations of marketing involve:

  • Research to identify customer needs and product development
  • Communication strategies and delivery of products and services to current and potential customers
  • Planning methods to determine where to market and set prices
  • Knowing how to respond to international markets and cultures as necessary

Marketing is not just an occupation, but a crucial business function. A marketing degree helps you develop the tools you need to create an environment where your ultimate delivery goals are supported through market research, design and maintenance in every aspect of the organization to satisfy your target audience's needs.

Career Education in Marketing

A degree in marketing prepares you for careers in the marketing world, whether you're looking to break in or to build up an existing career. Marketing degree programs combine the mathematical and statistical courses of an accounting degree with the organizational focus of a business major, plus the human behavioral studies of the liberal arts. And of course there are the added Web-based and e-commerce marketing principles to master.

Career education in marketing is essential, because you'll learn how to bring a product or service from idea to acceptance, and practice how to gain a competitive edge in the marketplace (and in your career). Marketing can account for one of the largest expenditures in an organization. A major portion of the workforce is directly or indirectly in a marketing job, and the demand for marketing experts is not affected by economic fluctuations. You'll have a better-than-average chance of advancing to decision-making positions faster in marketing than in other occupations.

Most large firms will expect to see at least a bachelor's degree for professional positions and an MBA is preferred for management careers. In today's hyper-competitive economy, many marketing professionals are earning their marketing degrees online, in order to advance without giving up their jobs.

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Associate Degrees in Marketing

The marketing associate degree can be a step toward a bachelor's degree or an entry-level job such as retail sales and customer service, wholesale distribution, advertising, buying, and promotions. You'll be required to have a high school diploma or GED and a strong aptitude for analysis and mathematics. It is suggested that students bring some work experience with them since this enhances case study comprehension.

Bachelor's Degrees in Marketing

A bachelor's degree in marketing--often a business administration degree with a marketing focus--takes longer than an associate's degree, but rewards you with better job opportunities. Your higher-level career choices upon graduation can include management-level jobs in marketing, sales, retail merchandising, promotions, and marketing research.

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Learn more about online marketing degree programs offered at these universities:

University of PhoenixDeVry University, & Capella University

What can you do with a College Major in Marketing?

The majority of marketing professionals work in sales as an entry point. With your increased experience and education, you may qualify to move more quickly into a marketing management position.

Marketing can be applied to almost every occupational field. Students often look for entry or advancement opportunities in advertising agencies, PR firms, corporate marketing, marketing research, brand management sales and retailing departments, and customer relationship management. And don't overlook the career opportunities in nonprofit organizations such as registered charities, arts groups, and special interest communities.

Marketing Careers

Marketing managers might oversee several departments working to determine market demand, maximizing profits through pricing and distribution strategies, and direct promotion efforts. The average annual salary for 2003 was about $74,000.

As part of an in-house department or offsite market research firm, market research analysts are responsible for defining the 'problem,' developing research methodology, analyzing data, and interpreting and presenting the results. A master's degree is the minimum requirement at many firms in the private sector. With a bachelor's degree in marketing, you can enter the field as a research assistant, trainee, or marketing interviewer. The demand for market researchers will remain strong, mostly working through research firms.

The brand or product manager oversees the marketing responsibilities for a particular type of product. It is a challenging, well-paid career and won't put excessive overtime or travel demands on you. It's also a very competitive field, so a bachelor's degree in marketing or commerce is suggested as a minimum prerequisite.

The sales manager supervises the sales force including establishing territories and quotas, recruiting and hiring, training, and incentives programs. Work experience plus a degree is preferred as you will be responsible for working with the data and statistics you've gathered to increase profitability and make planning decisions.

Advertising managers can choose either the business side of advertising (account management or account planning); or the creative side, where they create ads or work in media planning and production.

Another arm of the marketing field is public relations, where you'll have a similar goal, with a different methodology. You'll be in charge of projecting and maintaining a favorable image for your organization or client.

Online retailing is another growth opportunity for marketing degree holders. Almost all major retailers have online ordering, which opens up new career possibilities, especially with the recent proliferation of online degrees in e-commerce.

Nonprofit sector - There is a growing demand for marketing management professionals in many nonprofit fields. Some of the interest areas include: arts and culture, community economic development, education, environment, foundations, government, health care, international aid, and social services.

Certification and Licensure


There is no standard "marketing accreditation" a marketing practitioner can get, but certain job categories will have designations you can work towards. As always in business, it is recommended that you keep up with trends in the marketing field through industry periodicals, networking and workshops, and regular enrollment in credit and noncredit courses.

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