Every career has a somewhat linear path of progression. You take an entry level position, work a few years, move up, work a few more years, move up to a management position and so on.
However, marketing is different from other industries. Compared to others, it is still relatively new, and it continues to change and evolve at breakneck speed. New jobs and job classifications are being created all the time. Just think of some of the common marketing positions and career paths that were not even on the radar only a few short years ago – social media managers, app developers, content marketers, mobile marketers, and more.
MarketingLand columnist, Matt Umbro, shares a similar view on marketing career progression:
“As with any industry, digital marketing specialists follow a career path designed to foster growth and take on more responsibility. What’s unique about digital marketing compared to other industries is that the field has only been around for roughly 20 years. Thus, the specific path for progression isn’t as defined.”
This can be frustrating for marketers, especially if they feel like their career is in limbo or they haven’t made a career move in the recent future.
To eliminate the guessing, Umbro put together a progression path for marketing professionals. It is in no way universal, but even with so much changing all the time in the marketing industry, it provides marketers with a general career map.
- Getting your feet wet
- Training and gaining an understanding of how the industry works
- May be in the form of an internship or co-op
Learning within the industry – year one
- Taking on an entry level position
- Most work involves assisting other marketing professionals
- Doing execution work, analysis, reporting
Account manager: 1 – 3 years
- A lead position in managing clients and projects
- Accounts tend to be small in scope, easy to manage
- Deal directly with clients
Senior account manager: 3 -5 years
- You have more experience, understand your role in greater detail and can take on more detailed and complicated campaigns, projects, and clients
- At this point, you will add news skills to your toolbox
- Many marketers stay in this position for an extended period of time
- You may consider making a unilateral move to manage a different type of account (for example, moving from social media to SEO accounts)
- A decision to move into management needs to be made
Team leader/ manager/ director: 5 – 7 years
- This is where you make the transition from managing an account to managing a marketing team
- You take a more holistic approach to your job, support the team, account managers, and are the go-to person if serious client issues arise
- You could work for an agency, a team within the marketing department, or run an entire marketing department for a smaller organization
Beyond: 7+ years
- You open up many doors when you develop your marketing skills and have a lot of industry experience
- Many marketers continue on in management, making unilateral moves
- This is the point where many marketers transition to a different industry, specialize in a particular area or open their own marketing agency
Where are you on this marketing career growth progression map? Not where you want to be? That’s okay. There are countless opportunities to take your marketing career to the next level. Know what you like, get good at it, and you’ll have no problem being successful in your marketing career.
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