There are a lot of misconceptions that to enter the digital marketing field you must have a marketing degree. It’s simply false. Over my 14+ years in the arena, I have met and known many individuals who hold other degrees and have successful careers. Did you know that Chacka has successfully recruited strong talent without any degree or different background other than marketing? It’s true!
I recently met up with a friend who has a long career in Cybersecurity and holds a master’s degree in it. They were telling me they wanted to transition into social media and needed to go back to school to get a marketing degree so companies would hire them. My reaction was “hold up!” and I had to stop the conversation and explain before you go investing in an entire degree, I had five pieces of advice that I wanted to share. In this blog, I’ll share the solution on how to be successful at landing a career in the digital marketing field or the steps you should take to prepare – as well as common misconceptions.
1. Certificates > Degrees
In the conversation with my friend, I explained that going back to school or needing to have that specific degree is an outdated way of entering a new career or many industries. I mean think about it: the rise in tuition for higher education, the time investment, and the rapid change in digital marketing make the formal route the least desirable way.
My friend then asked me, “well what else can I do to get noticed?” My advice would be to value certificates over degrees.
If you’re looking to get into paid search, explore the Google Ads certifications. Learn the basics, apply your skills, and then get certified in an array of topics like Search Ads, Display, Measurement, Video, Shopping Ads, Apps, and Creative. I like their certification program because it allows you to build on the difficulty level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Now listen, I’m not telling you to do all of them, but at least start with the beginner courses and certifications so you have a basic understanding of the field.
For individuals looking to jump into the social advertising sector, Meta offers a more intensive program called the Meta Certified Professional certification. Similar to the Google Ads certification, you can start at the basic level of the associate level and build to a professional. There are an array of topics you can become familiarized with.
2. Follow Industry News
In addition to certifications, check out the Chacka Marketing blog to learn what is new in the field and what our experts have to say. Things change quickly in the digital arena, so I always recommend following professionals who can lend their voice to the constant updates and product releases.
Additionally, check out a few of these industry publications and blogs for other industry news: Google Ads Features & Announcements, Microsoft Adverting Blog, SearchEngineLand, SocialProDaily, SearchEngineJournal, and AdWeek
3. Experience Over Formal Education
Formal education is great, but the experience is what gets you noticed! Think about volunteering to get in the door at an agency. You can work as an intern (and many of these positions are paid, so you aren’t working for free). There are entry-level, part-time, and freelance positions, but you need to start looking. Go on reputable job sites or apps like LinkedIn, and Indeed.com, or get connected to a recruiter.
4. Skills Make You Stick-Out
Get the wheels turning and think about some of the skills and traits you already have that will help you transition into this field. If you’re analytical, good at problem-solving, and have a strong interest in the internet or social media. These are great traits to have and share with a company and those qualities can help you think about stories or times you were faced with a challenge and how you overcame an obstacle. That could help you in the interview process and stick out from the pack. I also think that when you’re passionate about the skills and things you’ve done, people will notice it.
5. Networking Can Open Doors that Degrees Can’t
Finally, networking is one of the most significant factors that you should do to enter the digital marketing field. Remember that saying, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” It’s much easier to make connections and find a job in digital marketing when you can connect with folks who are already working in your desired position.
I don’t suggest you join a marketing association at the cost of hundreds of dollars a year either. Take baby steps and find digital marketing groups on LinkedIn or Facebook. Engage in conversations with people who are posting and ask for tips for a beginner. Once you start building relationships, your name could be front of mind when their employer is looking for entry-level candidates.
Remember, to get into the digital marketing field, you don’t have to necessarily go back to school and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on getting a marketing degree. By following my five steps of getting certified, following industry news, obtaining relevant experience, thinking of your valuable skills, and making connections, you’ll be on your way to a career in this line of work sooner than later.
Do you think there are other skills that would be helpful for individuals entering the marketing arena? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
About the author: Marquita Arnold is Director of Digital Media Training at Chacka Marketing. She has over 14 years of experience in digital marketing and has a focus in paid search marketing.