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Marketing Career Paths: Advertising

Graham Haederle, November 09, 2019.

Got Milk?

Probably not! The point of asking this question is not to find a new source of dairy but rather attempt to influence one’s mind about the benefits of consuming it. This is a textbook example of advertising and its far-reaching impacts on society. We all experience advertisements through different media, whether it’s a jingle, slogan, commercial, or even an event. You’ve probably heard of successful organizations launching ad campaigns such as “Just Do It,” or “The Few, The Proud, The Many,” or “We are Farmers, duh duh duh duh dun duh dun,” but don’t realize how many advertisements penetrate pop culture and influence the mass public. Large businesses utilize the power of advertising to grow their consumer base to generate more revenue, and many smaller companies can succeed in advertising with the use of billboards, flyers, and recently, social media.

Advertising can take many forms, but in its most basic definition, it is a means of communication between businesses and the users of their products/services in efforts to influence them. This virtually applies to every business on the planet and therefore justifies the need for more experts in the advertising industry. According to PwC’s Global Entertainment and Media Outlook report, the advertising industry is predicted to grow 8.4% through 2018-2023. For marketing and communications majors, this is great news! Advertising is a lucrative field that demands long hours and high levels of creativity. Those with the gumption to pursue an exciting career in advertising will be rewarded over time as the vital function to influence people hasn’t been displaced by technology yet!

In this article, I will analyze a few career paths for prospective applicants to consider in the advertising industry as well as the necessary qualifications and skills you will need.


At every advertising agency, there is a need for a copywriter. Many companies have innovated catchy slogans using armies of talented, creative copywriters. Slogans such as Dollar Shave Club’s “Shave Time, Shave Money,” and McDonald’s “I’m Lovin’ It,” are classic examples of successful ad campaigns demonstrating the significance of copywriters. As a copywriter, you will be required to produce social media content that gives clients a voice (building the brand essentially) and collaborate with people from PR, marketing, and customer service. Copywriters directly impact the creative direction of an organization and are responsible for managing many creative projects at once with hard deadlines to adhere to. Generally, if you are interested in pursuing copywriting, you should major in either English, journalism, or marketing to strengthen your writing skills and possess excellent communication skills, especially with social media.

While copywriters aren’t in the spotlight for the great contributions, they are well compensated with a median salary of $61,820, but many can earn well over $100,000 at big firms such as Ogilvy. To have a lucrative career in copywriting, it is all dependent on skill and your writing portfolio. At some firms, even if you don’t have a college degree, you can earn a competitive salary just based on talent.

For prospective copywriters, you can land a prestigious internship if you build your writing skills, write frequently for publications, and immerse yourself in creative activities. At University of Maryland, this may mean writing for the American Marketing Association or the Diamondback to gain valuable experience with writing to an audience (like I am doing)! Another great resource is checking out the ProCopywriters website which details profiles of successful copywriters and connects you to industry experts if you become a member. With so many opportunities to improve your strengths as a copywriter at University of Maryland, students won’t have a problem finding employment in this part of the advertising industry.

Account Executive:

A natural question to ask at this point is if an advertising agency is stocked with creative people, who’s in charge of them? This introduces the role of an account executive, the main liaison between advertising and media agencies. Account executives are responsible for juggling many activities within a firm such as sales, business development, and customer relationship management in order to keep it afloat. This may include meeting with clients individually to discuss advertising and promotional needs, track budgets and costs, target audience and demographics, and other market research into industry competition. The real secret to the success of any advertising agency is its ability to recapture previous clients and solicit new business through collaborating with others within the agency.

Account executives can make an average base pay of $59,416 but can earn over $40,000 in commission. In key regions such as New York and San Francisco, it’s common for account executives to comfortably earn over $110,000. To reach these levels, you must have experience within an advertising agency at an entry position and work your way up the corporate ladder. Getting a degree in marketing or communications usually helps with securing a foothold in a firm as well as maintaining strong connections to clients.

Advertising Sales Director

Above all, advertising sales director have the final say on budgetary and creative decisions during an ad campaign. Because of this, advertising sales directors are responsible for managing an advertising agency's sales team, leading the business-end of an agency. These individuals must contact clients, keep the sales team on task, and ensure the advertising team stays within budget. They also act as a mentor to their sales representatives ensuring the firm gets the right clients it needs and will cold call to make the first impression.

Typically, many advertising sales directors were previous account executives and hold at least a bachelor’s degree in marketing or advertising and possess several years of relevant experience. According to, advertising sales directors can expect to make a median income of $168,000, especially if they possess graduate degrees. While this is not usually an open career path for undergraduate, it is considered one of the most prestigious marketing careers in the U.S. for seasoned marketing professionals.

Advertising is a great industry for creative thinkers and entrepreneurial spirits who want to make a large impact on the overall success of a business. In any business, sales are the most important source of revenue, so it is equally important to have necessary advertisements to boost consumer base. Like marketing and sales, no one is guaranteed a high-paying salary in advertising as it is highly dependent on how well you perform with clients and the results you produce. However, if you put in the work, the advertising industry is a very lucrative career choice for many. So, what are you waiting for? If you’re ready to be the next “Share a Coke” super ad campaign, it’s time to buckle down and “Just Do It!”


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