How to get into marketing: your guide

Marketing is a diverse and popular career path and one that many aspire to. It is ideal for those who have both a creative mind and understands business. As an industry that is constantly changing and evolving, it’s an industry that is challenging but the opportunities are endless. So if you’re looking for a career that allows you to drive results, get creative and make a difference, marketing could be the perfect career for you.

What is marketing?

Simply put, marketing is the promotion of a business and its products or services.

When considering what marketing entails, it covers aspects such as:

  • The brand itself and how it is perceived, both from within and outside of the business.
  • How the business utilises various channels and platforms to attract customers.
  • How the benefits of the business’s products or services are communicated to convert customers.

Marketing is a vital function within any business – if you have a product or service to sell, you’re going to need to market it in some way or another. It drives a business forward and enables them to achieve its objectives.

Paths to get into marketing – A Levels

A Levels are a great starting point, whether you’re thinking of going to university or not as they demonstrate to employers a level of academic knowledge and competency. It’s not often specific A Levels will be cited when looking at degrees or entry-level jobs in marketing, however, we would recommend studying A Level business studies as this will give you basic knowledge of marketing concepts such as the 7Ps. Other A Level subjects that would benefit your knowledge and marketing career include psychology, sociology, and English language.

If you were hoping to go to university and study a degree in marketing after completing your A Levels, it’s likely you’ll need at least grades CBB. However, we would always recommend checking directly with your chosen university to understand their entry requirements for their marketing degrees.

Paths to get into marketing – degrees

Marketing degrees are one of the routes you can take if you’re looking to start your career in marketing and stand out to potential employers. Studying a marketing degree will help you to develop not just your understanding and skills in marketing, but also your wider skillset. Throughout your degree, you’ll improve your communication, presentation, report writing, and analytical skills which will come in handy throughout your career in marketing. You’ll also increase your general business knowledge too, by learning how to set a budget, understand pricing, and how to conduct research.

Paths to get into marketing – professional qualifications

There are a range of professional qualifications in marketing out there, including qualifications for those just starting out in their career to level 7 qualifications for experienced marketing managers and directors.

If you’re just starting out in your marketing career and you don’t have a marketing degree, gaining a marketing qualification from the likes of CIM will help you get your career off the ground. They will allow you to gain practical knowledge and insights into the marketing profession and demonstrate to employers that you are serious about your career in marketing and willing to develop and learn. A professional marketing qualification will also allow you to gain real-world industry knowledge and a practical insight into tactical and strategic marketing.

Did you know OSC currently offers CIM Level 3 Foundation Certificates in Professional Marketing and Professional Digital Marketing which can help you get your marketing career started?

Choosing the right marketing qualification for you

Do I need a degree to get into marketing?

Unlike other professions, a degree in marketing isn’t essential. Employers tend to look for candidates with either a marketing degree or a professional qualification from the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM).

Ultimately, it comes down to what your personal preference is. Going to university isn’t for everyone and the tuition fee of £9,000 per year can put people off. So, if you would prefer to achieve a professional qualification and start your career as soon as possible instead, that’s fine. Equally, if you’d prefer to have the university experience and everything that comes with it, that is also fine. Either path will greatly benefit your career.

Why choose a CIM qualification?

The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) is the world’s largest professional organisation for marketers. Their accredited qualifications are a benchmark of quality in the industry, providing courses from an introductory level through to advanced.

If you already work in marketing but don’t hold a relevant degree and want to improve your career prospects, or if you are thinking about marketing as a career and want to make your CV stand out, a CIM qualification could be the ideal next step for you.

Not only will completing an internationally recognised CIM qualification will enhance your CV and get you recognised by employers, but it will allow you to increase your earning potential too. Statistics show that students who have completed a CIM qualification boost their earning potential, with them earning 10% more than their counterparts who are not qualified.

If you don’t want to or are unable to attend university, or you’re looking for a more flexible way to achieve a marketing qualification, studying a CIM course via distance learning with OSC could be your ticket to starting or progressing your career in marketing.

Choosing the right type of marketing for you

Choosing the right type of marketing for you is an important decision when you’re just starting out. There are a variety of options, but here we’ve broken it down into your two main decisions when thinking about the type of marketing you want to work in: agency versus in-house, and B2B versus B2C.

While making these decisions won’t necessarily mean that the rest of your career is then set in stone, the wrong decision could leave you feeling unfulfilled and unhappy at work, so it’s important you think about this decision carefully.

Agency vs in-house

An in-house marketing role, essentially means that you are employed by and represent one company. You’ll get to know everything about the business and its clients, enabling you to devote all of your efforts to promoting your employer’s brand and products/services. You’ll likely get to experience a variety of channels when working in-house and be responsible for making marketing decisions. Working in an in-house marketing role will generally mean you work shorter hours than your agency counterparts and have more structure while also allowing you to have an insight into the ‘end result’ of your marketing efforts. You’ll also have more exposure to the other business functions and understand where your role sits within the larger business structure.

Working in an agency environment will mean that you are contracted to work for multiple businesses who are agency clients. This will allow you to work across a wide range of projects, and possibly across a variety of industries too. Working with a broad range of clients will provide you with a solid foundation of marketing experience and knowledge, however, its unlikely you will be the one making the decisions as this will be your client’s responsibility. A marketing role in an agency may be appealing to some because of the exposure you’ll have to not only different industries and clients but also the technologies and trends as agencies tend to lead the way in this area. That being said, working in an agency can also be more demanding.

B2B vs B2C

While business to business (B2B) and business to customer (B2C) marketing do have some similarities, there are also some key differences.

B2B marketing focuses on selling their company’s products/services to other businesses. Whereas B2C marketers sell their business’s products/services directly to the customer.

When considering the target market, in a B2B environment, you will target the person who is responsible for making the purchase decisions within the business. A B2C marketer will target potential customers who are likely to use/need their product/service. Due to the complexity of B2B purchases, the decision-making process can take much longer than it can for B2C customers. The key thing to remember in B2B versus B2C marketing is that B2B tends to me more about the facts and figures, whereas B2C customers want more emotion and engagement from you to help them make a purchase decision.

Which marketing career path is right for me?

When considering a career in marketing, there are so many different paths you can choose from, and then climb the career ladder from there.

When starting out, you may benefit from first thinking about the different marketing disciplines you may want to specialise in, such as:

  • Social media
  • Events
  • Pay per click
  • Content marketing
  • Email marketing
  • Digital marketing
  • Brand
  • Graphic design

Entry-level positions

Entry-level positions typically require either a university degree or a marketing qualification, and a demonstratable passion for marketing (top tip: freelancing, volunteering, or interning is a great way to demonstrate your passion!). Some employers may take you on as an apprentice after leaving school or college and put you through professional qualifications too. A few examples of entry-level marketing positions are:

  • Marketing assistant/coordinator/executive
  • Social media coordinator
  • SEO executive
  • Events coordinator
  • Account executive
  • Graphic designer

During your day-to-day work in job roles such as the above, you will be responsible for areas such as conducting research, planning and delivering small marketing campaigns, and carrying out administrative tasks.

The starting salary for entry-level marketing positions typically starts between £18,000 and £22,000, with marketing executives earning up to £30,000.

Senior-level positions

As you gain more responsibility and marketing experience in your role, you can then look to progress and move up the career ladder. Once you have around four years’ experience, you could be considered for a senior role such as the following:

  • Senior marketing executive
  • Marketing manager
  • Account manager
  • Social media manager
  • PPC manager
  • Brand manager
  • PR manager
  • SEO manager

To be considered for a senior marketing position at this level you will have a good track record of delivering results and strong leadership skills. Your responsibilities will include managing and mentoring members of the marketing team, creating marketing strategies, researching market trends and competitors, and monitoring budgets and return on investment.

The salary for marketing managers typically ranges from £30,000 to £45,000, depending on the location and type of business you work for.

Director-level positions

At the top end of the scale in the marketing profession are marketing directors. Marketing directors are responsible for the success of the overall marketing strategy, brand, and marketing team in general. They will take the time to assess and analyse the results of marketing strategy and any findings from research or reports produced by the marketing team to make changes if necessary to improve performance. Marketing directors can expect to earn upwards of £45,000.