Wondering “what can I do with a marketing degree?” You’re not alone.

Marketing is one of those degrees that can open up a lot of different doors, but it does require that you start by knocking! In terms of a blueprint for your job search, there are three common avenues open to new graduates looking for jobs with a marketing degree. You might search for openings at advertising or marketing agencies, apply for positions in marketing departments within large companies or pursue freelance. Each path has its own benefits and drawbacks. Here is a quick summary of what you need to know to land the best jobs with a marketing degree.

Career Path # 1: Advertising or marketing agencies

Advertising and marketing agencies are a natural choice for recent graduates who want to put their marketing degree to work. Typical entry-level job positions include copywriter, researcher, art designer and event planner. Some agencies specialize in producing commercials for clients and may have openings related to video production. Working as part of a team, you will research market placement, advise clients on product positioning, and develop or run marketing campaigns. Salaries start at about $40K and can range much higher, depending on your job position.

Getting an agency job requires you to demonstrate your proficiency in a broad range of skills. The specific mix will depend on your role within the agency, but common technical skills include research, writing, organization, visual creation skills (including familiarity with art design software and video applications) and basic coding. You must also be good at building relationships with clients and have some comfort with sales and customer service.

Career Path # 2: Marketing departments of larger companies

Most large companies have a well-funded marketing department. That is good news for graduates who want to apply their degree while working for a company that sells something other than marketing. They might be looking at entry-level positions of marketing assistant, coordinator, account manager or media planner. There is also the relatively new role of a community manager, which allows you to build up your expertise in the areas of social media, analytics, brand marketing and customer service. Starting salaries for marketing assistants average $36K and put you on a career path that offers an opportunity to grow all the way to Chief Marketing Officer.

One of the biggest advantages of pursuing this career path is that a lot of great companies have a marketing department. Marketing isn’t just for consumer goods anymore. You might land in a company that produces video games, sets cutting standards in the world of fashion, operates casinos or publishes books. Think about products or services you use, love or believe in–and find job opportunities in those areas.

One disadvantage that is worth remembering is that marketing departments are some of the first to suffer cuts and layoffs when the economy inevitably hits a bump, or a shakeup in the industry puts your company on thin ice. A way to hedge against this risk is to proactively develop a side gig. That brings us to the third possible career path for a marketing degree graduate.

Career Path # 3: Freelancing

Let’s face it–every business needs marketing, but few entrepreneurs and professionals know how to do it effectively. That’s where you come in. If you are wondering “What can I do with a marketing degree?” the answer may just be building your own brand and presence, and hanging out a virtual shingle!

You might test the waters by creating a freelancer profile on a virtual talent marketplace platform like UpWork. Some freelancers build lasting relationships with other professionals and form virtual working groups to serve clients with the combined expertise of a distributed team. You may discover that you enjoy the freedom and the flexibility of choosing your own clients, setting your own rates and controlling your working hours. Your earning potential as a freelancer will depend on your ability to build a portfolio, cultivate client relationships, and demonstrate value.

The career path less traveled

In addition to three common career tracks, there are several less common jobs for a marketing degree graduate to consider. The benefit of pursuing one of these alternatives is that you are not likely to have a dozen candidates with your exact same background and qualifications competing for a limited number of openings.

To get the most out of this list, set your degree hat aside and start with who you are. What are you great at? What do you enjoy doing? What comes easiest to you? What are your hobbies outside of marketing, and how might they translate into your next job?

  1. Look into local non-profits. Hospitals, universities, environmental and conservation agencies, veteran service organizations and animal protection leagues need your skills when it comes to fundraising, marketing campaigns, community outreach, and event planning.  

  2. Writing gigs may not be your obvious first choice, but they could be a fantastic opportunity for candidates with solid writing skills and a marketing degree. You might try your hand at creating email copy, blog posts, white papers, client brochures and any other materials that are meant to educate, inform, and convert prospects into clients. Writing will allow you to explore or build any technical field of expertise, from sports to wealth management. You could even explore a career in journalism.

  3. Graphic design is an option for marketing degree graduates with a strong skill set in visual creation. Ads, banners, client materials, websites–there is no limit to what you can do with a marketing degree and an eye for great design.

  4. Public relations is an area that is close enough to marketing to take advantage of your technical skills, yet different enough to set your candidacy apart.

  5. Working as a real estate agent can give you an opportunity to apply and develop your core skills of branding, marketing, selling, positioning and relationship-building. You will need to go through additional training to get the necessary licenses, but the flexibility and the earning potential you get in exchange may well be worth the investment.

  6. Publishing is another area that can use your core skills in a fast-paced environment. Positions in this area include Editor, Writer, Publisher, Copy Editor, Proofreader, Copywriter, Editorial Assistant, Designer, and Community Manager for magazines or newspapers.

  7. Consider buyer and purchasing agent positions. Buyers and purchasing agents are in charge of making choices of products and services that an organization can use or resell. They evaluate suppliers, test quality of products, negotiate agreements and manage relationships.

  8. If you enjoy sports, you might leverage your marketing degree into a position of a sports agent. This could be a great opportunity to learn about the business side of sports and work at the intersection of management, marketing, and PR.

As a marketing major, you have a strong advantage when it comes to exploring jobs and career paths. After all, virtually any company or position can benefit from expertise in brand awareness, campaign design and management, communications and relationship-building. The key is to begin with your strengths and an open mind. There are many jobs for a marketing degree graduate that will allow you to leverage your education to create a highly satisfying and lucrative career–no matter which industry you choose.

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