Why Get an Advertising Degree?

Created by Henry Steele

By Henry Steele - April 16, 2017
Reading Time: 7 minutes
Reading Time: 7 minutes

The field of advertising refers to the profession and/or activity of creating information that promotes certain products and/or services. Advertising is needed everywhere in order to generate awareness for the product or service. It is required in any industry, from government offices who want to make sure people know their rights, to charities who want to attract more donations, to commercial companies who want to increase sales of their product. As a result, it is no surprise that there is a huge demand for people with skills in advertising.

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What is of particular interest in the field of advertising is that there has been a huge shift in its focus. In the past, advertising looked mainly at printed media, television, and radio. While these forms of advertising continue to exist, the focus is now mainly on digital marketing. With people spending increasing amounts of time online, ensuring that they are exposed to advertisements on those platforms becomes very important. There has even been a shift within this field, since so many people now access the internet through their mobile devices. Advertising, therefore, now even focuses on applications development.

Advertising Opportunity

Because the field of advertising is so broad, there are tremendous opportunities available within it as well. Numerous organizations have published reports on the projected growth in demand for advertising professionals. For instance:

  • The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has reported that there will be a 9% growth in demand for advertising, promotions, and marketing managers from 2014 to  2024, which is faster than the national average for other professions.
  • Sokanu reports that there will be a demand for an extra 11,400 advertising managers over the next 10 years.
  • Florida Tech Online reports that there will be increasing opportunities for advertising managers in a variety of fields.

Advertising Career Paths

There are numerous career paths available for those with an interest in advertising. The most popular career paths, as reported by Payscale.com, include:

  • Communications Director, earning between $47,000 and $91,000 per year
  • Communications Manager, earning between $48,000 and $80,000 per year
  • Creative Director, earning between $60,000 and $123,000 per year
  • Digital Marketing Manager, earning between $50,000 and $81,000 per year
  • Director of Communications, earning between $55,000 and $99,000 per year
  • Marketing Coordinator, earning between $35,000 and $48,000 per year
  • Marketing Director, earning between $56,000 and $119,000 per year
  • Marketing Manager, earning between $49,000 and $81,000 per year
  • Marketing Specialist, earning between $39,000 and $57,000 per year
  • Project Manager – Marketing, earning between $45,000 and $73,000 per year

Payscale.com also reports on the difference in earnings between years of experience. The greatest jump in salary is found between those in entry level careers ($50,000 per year) and those in mid-career, who have between five and ten years’ experience ($63,000 per year). After that, there is a small jump for experienced professionals with between 10 and 20 years’ experience ($64,000 per year), after which the pay no longer increases.

Advertising Salaries

Salaries for those in the field of advertising vary tremendously depending on a range of factors, including level of education, years of experience, the company they work for, and their geographical location. According to the BLS, the average annual earnings for all advertising, promotions, and marketing managers at bachelor’s degree level was $124,850 per year in May 2015. They also reported that the bottom 10% of earners receive $42,440 per year or less, while the top 10% of earners receive $187,200 per year or more.

A factor that strongly influences average annual earnings is geographical location. The BLS has reported that the top five states for advertising, promotions, and marketing managers to work in are:

  • New York: $166,910 per year
  • New Jersey: $143,810 per year
  • Massachusetts: $140,240 per year
  • Pennsylvania: $131,730 per year
  • Florida: $131,530 per year

Advertising Employers

Those who have skills in advertising have a wealth of opportunities available to them in terms of where they can work. Some of the most popular employers, as reported by Payscale.com, are:

  • Amazon.com Inc.
  • Hewlett Packard Company.
  • Uber Technologies Inc.
  • Live Nation, Inc.
  • Ameriprise Financial, Inc.

What you can see from these organizations is that they focus strongly on the digital element of advertising. Many, in fact, are fully online and do all their advertising in that manner. That being said, it has now been observed that people are becoming desensitized to digital marketing to a certain degree, reading past banners and other forms of advertisement on the internet. As a consequence, advertising professionals once again have to shift their focus and come up with new and innovative manners of grabbing the public’s attention.

Being involved in advertising is about being creative. It is about coming up with ways to put a message across that is unique and hasn’t been done before. It also has to be interesting so that people would start to recognize that particular brand and start to trust it as an authority. Taking the example of advertising for charities, for instance, people are bombarded on a daily basis with hundreds of charities that accept car donations, as well as with those listed by brokers, who are not charities at all. It takes a very strong skill for an advertising professional to create the form of advertising that sticks out from that huge crowd.

Advertising Bachelor’s Degree

In order to become involved in the world of advertising, it is recommended to obtain at least a bachelor’s degree. Numerous schools across the country offer this degree, so you will have to research which one is best suited to your particular needs and requirements. One highly respected degree program is that offered by Michigan State University, which offers the Bachelor’s in Advertising. During this degree, you will have to complete numerous courses relating to the field of advertising, which include:

  • Tier I Writing
  • University Mathematics
  • University Laboratory Experience
  • University Diversity Distribution
  • Major – Advertising – Junior Entrance
  • Major – Advertising – Core
  • Major – Advertising – Concentration
  • Major – Advertising – Non-departmental
  • University Residency

Advertising Master’s Degree

If you really want to take your career to the next level, however, it is recommended to complete a graduate degree after your bachelor’s. This will give you more intensive skills and knowledge in the field of advertising, and will enable you to attract greater salaries and greater responsibilities as well. Numerous schools across the country offer master’s degrees in advertising, including Boston University’s College of Communication.

Advertising Admission Requirements

Each school can set its own admission requirements when it comes to their master’s degree programs. That being said, they tend to be quite similar across the board. At Boston University, for instance, requirements include:

  • A bachelor’s degree
  • Undergraduate transcripts
  • Academic and personal references
  • Work experience
  • English proficiency for international students

No GMAT/GRE is required at Boston University, but many other schools will set this requirement for master’s degree courses.

Advertising Curriculum

All schools can set their own admissions requirements, and they can also set their own curriculum. It is for this reason that you must choose a program that is properly accredited. An accreditation demonstrates that the program meets or exceeds the minimum standards as set for that particular skill set or knowledge area. To demonstrate this, they must have a number of core courses included in their programs. While schools may give these courses different names, they will include the same broad set of knowledge and skills. At Boston University, the curriculum includes:

  • Writing for Media Professionals
  • Principles and Practices of Advertising
  • Interactive Marketing Communication
  • Advertising in Society
  • Contemporary Mass Communication
  • Consumer Insight and Account Planning
  • Video in the Digital Age
  • Digital Communication
  • Fundamentals of Creative Development
  • Advertising Management
  • Strategic Brand Solutions
  • New and Traditional Media Strategies
  • Social Networks in Strategic Communication Planning
  • Principles of Search Engine Marketing
  • Design in New Media
  • Financial Concepts
  • E-commerce
  • Creative Multimedia: Tools, Design, and Application
  • Negotiations and Organizational Conflict Resolution
  • Leadership in Management
  • Innovative Marketing Techniques
  • The Innovation Process: Developing New Products and Services
  • International Market Research
  • International Marketing Strategy
  • International Advertising

Advertising Financial Assistance

Completing a degree requires a significant investment in terms of both time and money. However, schools and the government are focused on encouraging more people into education. To achieve this, the government offers students financial aid, and most universities also link their students to scholarships and grants. There are also a number of external scholarships and grants that you could consider applying for to help fund the cost of your degree. Generally speaking, you will need to meet a certain number of requirements for these, such as being a member of a professional organization, having demonstrable financial need, holding a certain GPA, being a member of a certain minority group, and so on. Some of the scholarships and grants that you may want to look into include the:

  • PICPA Student Writing Competition, which offers students the opportunity to compete for one of three $3,000 awards
  • NHCF Dunkin’ Donuts Scholarship Program, which offers students with demonstrable financial need and high academic achievement the opportunity to apply for one of the 20 $2,000 awards
  • Oracle Community Impact Scholarship, offered to African-American students at undergraduate level in certain geographical areas. Ten awards of $10,000 each are available.
  • NDS / DMI Education & Communication Scholarship, which offers five awards of $1,500 each
  • Ralph C. and Marion B. Goff Memorial Scholarship, which offers seniors at Bonny Eagle High School in Standish, MA, the opportunity to apply for a $1,370 award for undergraduate education
  • Dale Runnion Scholarship, which offers Alpha Gamma Rho members a $250 award
  • Manuel & Jane Zuniga Scholarship, which offers Hispanic undergraduate students the opportunity to apply for one $2,000 award
  • GMAT Tutor “Brightest Minds” MBA Scholarship Contest, which offers one $25,000 award to students
  • TableLegsOnline.com Future Entrepreneurs of America Scholarship, which offers undergraduate students the opportunity to apply for two $500 awards
  • Harold Bettinger Memorial Scholarship, which offers students a $2,000 award

Advertising Certifications

Generally speaking, there is no legal requirement for an advertising professional to be certified or licensed. However, licensing and certification will greatly increase your overall professional standing. Do remember, however, that obtaining a certificate is a costly affair. Not only will you have to pay for materials and the examination, but you also have to make an investment of time, which is usually at least six months. Furthermore, you will have to maintain your certification, which means completing further continuous education credits. That being said, the rewards you can receive for being certified are also great, and you should see more career doors opening up to you. The result is also an increase in salary. Some of the certifications you may want to consider include the:

  • Vskills Advertising Manager Certification
  • Google AdWords Partners Certified Professional
  • Professional Certified Marketing – American Marketing Association
  • IAB Professional Certification
  • PPAI Certification

Payscale.com also reports on popular skills for those in the field of advertising. These are:

  • Marketing management
  • Social media marketing
  • Graphic design
  • Strategic marketing

Advertising Associations

Becoming a member of certain professional associations is a very good career move. It gives you the opportunity to always be on top of new developments in your industry, as well as to access courses and training in your field. Furthermore, it is a great networking opportunity, enabling you to gain more professional contacts. There are numerous advertising organizations and associations that you could consider becoming a member of, including the:

  • American Marketing Association
  • Promotional Products Association International (PPAI)
  • American Advertising Federation
  • American Association of Advertising Agencies (4As)
  • American Academy of Advertising
  • Digital Advertising Alliance


Henry Steele
Managing Editor
Henry is Managing Editor of BusinessStudent.com. He is a seasoned business professional who regularly consults with local business's throughout Southern California. Henry pursued his undergrad in Business and Economics at the University of San Diego and gained valuable life changing experience through a unique internship upon graduation.

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