Uncertainty has been the name of the game for marketers since March 2020. Even before the onset of the pandemic, senior marketers faced increased scrutiny: With an average tenure of only two years, they’re typically under pressure to be the business’s driving engine by securing a viable lead stream with high conversion rates. In some cases, marketers are under more pressure than sales teams to deliver solutions that keep revenue streams flowing strong.
But there is good news: Marketing is not going anywhere—in fact, it’s on an upswing.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, marketing jobs are growing faster than the national average at about 6%, with an average salary of about $135,000 per year. Most marketers have a bachelor’s degree, a solid start, but marketers looking to break into the management track and beyond are looking to demonstrate more capability to handle the challenges of leading a team and meeting tight deadlines. And the marketing classes taken at 21 years old may not stand up to the demands of the 21st-century digital landscape: Could today’s marketer have predicted conversations about GDPR and the death of third-party cookies?
In the throes of a pandemic, months away from full vaccination, pursuing an online education has become a newly flexible option for marketers looking to stand out from the pack, a step that can prepare them for the peaks and valleys of a post-pandemic marketing landscape.
So, what kind of graduate degree benefits the ambitious marketer seeking to take the leadership reins and make a significant impact? A traditional MBA — online or otherwise — with a marketing track is one option. But there’s also a master’s in marketing science, which focuses more on the practical, nuts-and-bolts aspects of marketing.
Types of master’s programs available to marketers
An MBA with a marketing track is often the first choice for the traditionalist who seeks a well-rounded education and is well suited to marketers who are not yet sure what path they wish to pursue.
A master’s in marketing science is another approach, better suited to the marketer seeking a more hands-on approach. Generally speaking, an MBA has more of a theoretical bend, while a master’s in marketing has a more practical approach.
Numbers help when it comes to making a decision, and there is a wealth of available data about potential salaries that senior-level marketers can make with the help of an advanced degree and the requisite experience.
- On average, marketing managers make a comfortable six-figure salary, at about $135,000 per year.
- A CMO makes slightly more than that, according to Payscale, at about $174,000 per year as the median salary.
- The top 10% of CMOs make up to $275,000 per year.
The statistics suggest that an investment in a marketing career has the potential to pay dividends many times over.
Tips for balancing school and work
How do marketers manage the rigors of a full-time role with the demands of enrollment in a graduate program — even a part-time one? What follows are some survival tips for marketers ready to make the leap.
- Over-communicate. Start with clear-eyed conversations — talk to managers and team members. It’s vital for them to understand the ways class and doing coursework will balance with work and hitting deadlines. A certain level of transparency is essential in these matters, allowing the manager and team to support the schedule and workloads of both endeavors.
- Be patient. Pursuing a course of study while juggling a demanding job will require a lot of time and energy. Once-free weekends and evenings may now be swallowed up with readings and coursework. On average, pursuing a master’s part-time can take up to four years. Even the best time managers will need to buckle down for the long-haul, understanding that the best kinds of changes are the ones that occur slowly.
- Stick around. Some employers require that team members stay on for at least a year after completing a degree that they helped reimburse, ensuring that the recent completion of education benefits the company. Marketers ready for the advanced degree experience must get those details sorted early — the goal is to understand expectations from the very start.
With some finessing, marketers are placing themselves on the track to management and more responsibilities by pursuing an advanced marketing degree — leveraging the flexibility that comes with remote work and online learning now, and continuing throughout the return to normal to come. And they’re doing it without handing in their salary or interrupting their career path.
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