Career Outlook

Marketing offers many exciting and rewarding career opportunitiesWe have provided some general information about a career in marketing, job descriptions and if you still need more clarification, we have provided a list of frequently asked questions.

General Information about Marketing Careers

Almost a third of all Americans are employed in marketing-related positions. Thus, the number of possible marketing careers is enormous. Because of the knowledge of products and consumers gained in these jobs, marketing provides excellent training for the highest levels in the organization. A recent study by a recruiting firm found that more top executives have come out of marketing than of any other area.

Marketing salaries vary by company and position. Beginning salaries usually rank only slightly below those for engineering and chemistry, but are equal to or exceed those for economics, finance, accounting, general business, and the liberal arts. If you succeed in an entry-level marketing position, you will quickly be promoted to higher levels of responsibility and salary.

Marketing has become an attractive career for some people who have not traditionally considered this field. One trend is the growing number of women entering marketing. Women have historically been employed in the retailing and advertising areas of marketing. But they now have moved into all types of sales and marketing positions. Women now pursue successful sales careers in pharmaceutical companies, publishing companies, banks, consumer products companies, and in an increasing number of industrial selling jobs. Their ranks are also growing in product and brand manager positions.

Another trend is the growing acceptance of marketing by nonprofit organizations. Colleges, arts organizations, libraries, and hospitals are increasingly applying marketing to their programs. They are beginning to hire marketing directors and marketing vice-presidents to manage their varied marketing activities.

Brief Job Descriptions


Advertising is an important business activity that requires skill in planning, fact gathering, and creativity. Although compensation for starting advertising people tends to be lower than that in other marketing fields, opportunities for advancement are usually greater because of less emphasis on age or length of employment. Typical jobs in advertising agencies include the following positions:

  • Copywriters help find the concepts behind the written words and visual images of advertisements. They dig for facts, read avidly, and borrow ideas. They talk to customers, suppliers, and anybody who might give them clues about how to attract the target audience’s attention and interest.
  • Art directors constitute the other part of the creative team. They translate copywriters’ ideas into dramatic visuals called “layouts.” Agency artists develop print layouts, package designs, television layouts (called “storyboards”), corporate logotypes, trademarks, and symbols. They specify style and size of typography, and arrange all the details of the ad so that it can be reproduced by engravers and printers. A superior art director or copy chief becomes the agency’s creative director and oversees all its advertising.
  • Account executives are liaisons between clients and agencies. They must know a great deal about marketing and its various components. They explain client plans and objectives to agency creative teams and supervise the development of the total advertising plan. Their main task is to keep the client happy with the agency. Because “account work” involves many personal relationships, account executives are usually personable, diplomatic, and sincere.
  • Media buyers select the best media for clients. Media representatives come to the buyer’s office armed with statistics to prove that their numbers are better, their costs per thousand are less, and their medium delivers more audience than competitive media. Media buyers have to evaluate these claims. They must also bargain with the broadcast media for best rates and make deals with the print media for good ad positions.

Large ad agencies have active marketing research departments that provide market information needed to develop new ad campaigns and assess current campaigns. People interested in marketing research should consider jobs with ad agencies.

Brand and Product Management

Brand and product managers plan, direct, and control business and marketing efforts for their products. They are concerned with research and development, packaging, manufacturing, sales and distribution, advertising, promotion, market research, and business analysis and forecasting. In consumer goods companies, the newcomer--who usually needs a Masters of Business Administration degree (MBA)--joins a brand team and learns the ropes by doing numerical analysis and watching senior brand people. This person eventually heads the team and later moves on to manage a larger brand. Many industrial goods companies also have product managers. Product management is one of the best training grounds for future corporate officers.

Industrial Management

People interested in industrial marketing careers can go into sales, service, product design, marketing research, or one of several other positions. They sometimes need a technical background. Most people start in sales and spend time in training and making calls with senior salespeople. If they stay in sales, they may advance to district, regional, and higher sales positions. Or they may go into product management and work closely with customers, suppliers, manufacturing, and sales engineering.

International Marketing

As US firms increase their international business, they need people who are familiar with foreign languages and cultures and who are willing to travel or relocate in foreign cities. For such assignments, most companies seek experienced people who have proved themselves in domestic operations.

Logistics and Supply Chain Management

Supply chain management and logistics is responsible for managing the supply chain or “pipeline” that plans and coordinates the delivery of products and services to customers all over the world. Logistics professionals manage and coordinate activities in this global pipeline to ensure an effective and efficient flow of materials and information from the time a need arises until it is satisfied and beyond. Some of the many activities involved in supply chain management and logistics careers include:

  • Logistics planning and analysis
  • Transportation management
  • Warehouse operations management
  • Inventory planning and control
  • Purchasing and materials management
  • Information systems and control
  • Logistics marketing and sales

Marketing Research

Marketing researchers interact with managers to define problems and identify the information needed to resolve them. They design research projects, prepare questionnaires and samples, analyze data, prepare reports, and present their findings and recommendations to management. They must understand statistics, consumer behavior, psychology, and sociology. A master’s degree helps. Career opportunities exist with manufacturers, retailers, some wholesalers, trade and industry associations, marketing research firms, advertising agencies, and governmental and private nonprofit agencies.

New Product Planning

People interested in new-product planning can find opportunities in many types of organizations. they usually need a good background in marketing, marketing research, and sales forecasting; they need organizational skills to motivate and coordinate others; and they may need a technical background. Usually, these people work first in other marketing positions before joining the new-product department.

Marketing Logistics (Physical Distribution)

Marketing logistics, or physical distribution, is a large and dynamic field, with many career opportunities. Major transportation carriers, manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers all employ physical distribution specialists. Courseware in quantitative methods, finance, accounting, and marketing will provide students with the necessary skills for entering the field.

Public Relations 

Most organizations have a public relations person or staff to anticipate public problems, handle complaints, deal with media, and build the corporate image. People interested in public relations should be able to speak and write clearly and persuasively, and they should have a background in journalism, communications, or the liberal arts. The challenges in this job are highly varied and very people-oriented.


Purchasing agents are playing a growing role in firms’ profitability during periods of rising costs, materials shortages, and increasing product complexity. In retail organizations, working as a “buyer” can be a good route to the top. Purchasing agents in industrial companies play a key role in honing down costs. A technical background is useful in some purchasing positions, along with a knowledge of credit, finance, and physical distribution.

Retail Management

Retailing provides people with an early opportunity to take on marketing responsibilities. Although retail starting salaries and job assignments have typically been lower than those in manufacturing or advertising, the gap is narrowing. The major routes to top management in retailing are merchandise management and store management. In merchandise management, a person moves from buyer trainee to assistant buyer to buyer to merchandise division manager. In store management, the person moves from management trainee to assistant department (sales) manager to department manager to store (branch) manager. Buyers are primarily concerned with merchandise selection and promotion; department managers are concerned with sales force management and display.

Sales and Sales Management

Sales and sales management opportunities exist in a wide range of profit and non-profit organizations and in product and service organizations, including financial, insurance, consulting, and government organizations. Individuals must carefully match their backgrounds, interests, technical skills, and academic training with available sales jobs. Career paths lead from salesperson to district, regional, and higher levels of sales management and, in many cases, the top management of a firm.