What is a Marketing Major and is it Right for Me?

If you love everything about creating and selling a new product to the audience of your choice, becoming a marketing major might be right up your alley. Marketing majors study the art and science of figuring out what people want; armed with that knowledge, they create, optimize and promote products and services to sell to a target demographic.

What does marketing actually entail? Here’s what you need to consider.

What is a marketing major?

“Marketing” is an umbrella term for anything dealing with the creation of a product or service and its subsequent branding in the hopes of getting people to buy or interact with it. Because there are so many different parts to marketing, marketing majors spend a lot of time learning about various parts of the process before concentrating and honing in on a particular area of study.

Your classes as a marketing major can vary greatly depending on the program, but potential options include advertising and promotion, marketing communications, public relations, market research, consumer behavior, marketing strategy, management and sales.

Is it right for me?

If you’re still getting the hang of what a marketing major does, here are several key questions to ask yourself:

  • Do I watch TV commercials and wonder why brands made their ads a certain way?
  • Am I interested in sales? Do I like figuring out the best way to pitch and sell a product to consumers of any kind?
  • Do I like communicating and working with others? Do I consider my interpersonal skills to be a strong suit?
  • Am I able to handle criticism and feedback from peers, professors and professionals well?
  • Do I look forward to interning and gaining valuable work experience during college?
  • Am I able to think creatively as well as quantitatively? Am I as willing to brainstorm interesting campaign ideas as I am to analyze metrics?
  • Am I good at thinking outside the box? Can I spin things in a way that’s different to what others are doing?

Is marketing the same as advertising?

You might also be wondering how a marketing major differs from an advertising major. While both fall under most schools’ communications departments, they’re typically treated as entirely different majors.

What’s the biggest difference? Marketing is about every part of the process of brainstorming and creating a product, including how it’s packaged, sold and improved for further promotion. Advertising is only a part of marketing, but it’s an extremely crucial one that shouldn’t be overlooked. This is why it’s almost always a separate major.

What can I do with a marketing degree?

The great thing about a marketing degree is that it can prepare you to enter any number of fields related to creating and promoting a product, and your major will teach you basic marketing principles that you can use regardless of the industry you’re targeting.

Entry-level marketing roles can include:

  • marketing manager
  • social media marketer
  • public relations account executive
  • product manager
  • brand partnerships manager
  • advertising associate
  • design specialist
  • …and much more!

Additionally, some marketing majors decide to specialize their studies by going to graduate school. For instance, you may go back to school to focus on learning more about brand strategy or international marketing.

What do people who majored in marketing earn?

Marketing managers and other entry-level marketing professionals typically have salaries starting in the $35,000-$45,000 range, though there’s lots of room for promotions and salary increases depending on your field and where you work. For instance, you may start off as a marketing manager making $40,000 a year, whereas a marketing director can tip the scales at over $100,00 per year. Of course, there are plenty of exceptions: at a big company like Google, and you can make as much as $80,000 for an entry-level marketing manager position!

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What Types of Skills Are Best for a Marketing Major?

Being a marketing major is a great way to develop your knowledge of the marketing industry and to discover what’s involved in promoting brands and products. As a marketing major, you’ll be doing things like understanding the psychology behind consumer behavior, designing marketing campaigns and learning about social media trends. To accomplish these things successfully, you’ll need to develop a strong and diverse skill set.

Here are the five skills you’ll need to succeed as a marketing major:


Since marketing campaigns often require unique approaches, creativity is a prerequisite for anyone thinking of taking on a marketing major. During your time in college, you’ll be able to put your creativity to use by coming up with ideas for marketing campaigns in your classes and then determining the best ways to test them out.

Communications skills

Being able to communicate effectively is a crucial part of any job and this is especially true when it comes to marketing since this field is all about making a particular message or idea engaging to an audience. Having strong verbal and written communication skills is extremely important for those who are thinking of taking on this major.

Analytical skills

Since marketing is heavily driven by data and metrics, having an analytical mindset is a key component of succeeding in this major. From understanding the science behind a particular marketing strategy to being able to quantify results and demonstrate the value of a particular campaign, putting your analytical skills to use will help you understand the true power of marketing and give you insights into how you can improve on each campaign.

Organization skills

Whether you end up working for a marketing agency or as part of an in-house marketing team, once you leave college you’ll likely be in a role that requires you to do several things at once such as managing social media accounts, coming up with new campaigns and creating reports to track the performance of those campaigns. To do these things effectively, you’ll need to be able to organize your time effectively and to prioritize new tasks as they come up.

Knowledge of media trends

Since marketing requires you to capitalize on media trends in order to develop successful campaigns, having a solid understanding of those trends (and why they matter) is an important aspect of being a marketing major. In addition to being interested in media trends and marketing campaigns, marketing majors will also benefit from having a sense of why certain strategies work when others don’t.

By knowing what to expect from a marketing major and developing the right skill set, you’ll be able to maximize the impact of your studies and to set yourself up for success after graduation.

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Career Opportunities for Marketing Majors

A degree in marketing opens up a lot of exciting career opportunities in fields like public relations, consulting and sales. In fact, because of the broad range of the skills you’ll develop as a marketing major, you’ll be able to add value to almost any industry, a great position to be in when it comes to finding a career that’s right for you.

Some of the most common career fields for marketing majors include:


From designing marketing campaigns focused on boosting the public profile of a certain brand to crafting engaging social media posts that will resonate with an audience, a career in marketing will give you a chance to apply the skills you learned during your major while simultaneously developing your knowledge of media trends and marketing strategies. And because there are many different kinds of marketing—such as brand marketing, content marketing and product marketing—you’ll be able to specialize in an area that really interests you.

Public Relations

Public relations is another popular field for marketing majors. Focused on helping a company or individual develop their brand identity while also generating buzz around that brand, public relations is all about storytelling and it’s a wonderful opportunity to combine your knowledge of marketing with your sense of creativity.


Working in sales will give you the opportunity to engage with customers directly, offering them the solutions they need to solve a particular problem while also making the most of the skills you developed as part of your major. A great way to apply your marketing knowledge in a hands-on way, sales is a natural fit for marketing majors who enjoy a client-facing role.


From identifying a particular business problem to offering a creative solution, consulting offers marketing majors a chance to help companies approach their marketing challenges in an analytical and creative way. It’s also a wonderful opportunity to help clients create robust marketing campaigns that will increase their brand presence and their revenue.

Product Management

Another possible career path for marketing majors is product management. This involves managing the lifecycle of a particular product and being involved in key areas of development and marketing. As a product manager, you’ll be responsible for everything from creating a roadmap for the product to designing a marketing plan and forecasting the outcome of those efforts.

Whether it’s exploring exciting opportunities within the marketing or public relations industries or helping consulting clients design effective marketing campaigns, being a marketing major can open a lot of different doors when it comes to your career. The best way to find your unique career path is to take on an internship and get a hands-on feel for a role that interests you.

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How to Get an Ad Sales Job

If you’ve been studying marketing or advertising throughout your time in college, you likely already know a bit about the important role that ad sales plays in the digital media landscape. Even if you don’t, you might be interested in working for a great digital platform and are curious about how you can get your foot in the door.

To find out the ins and outs of advertising sales, we filmed a video interview with Snapchat Creative Strategist Sam Goodman and got some great advice on how recent grads can get started in the industry.

What does it actually mean to be in ad sales?

“There are a lot of different ways that you can be involved in ad sales. You can be involved in advertising on the brand side, at an agency, or for a publisher or platform,” Sam explains. In fact, because ad sales involves selling advertising space on websites and social media platforms, it’s one of the most integral parts of the digital media industry and a key entry point for those interested in working in a dynamic and innovative field.

How do you get into ad sales without any experience?

Getting started in ad sales without experience might seem intimidating at first, but it really doesn’t need to be. According to Sam, the key is being persistent. “If you’re passionate about it, that will show in any interview,” he says, emphasizing that you can learn a lot from reading trade publications like Ad Age and Digiday while you’re still in college.

Pro Tip: Sam also suggests doing internships and taking on brand ambassador roles to advertise local and national businesses on your campus. This will give you a great sense of what it means to represent a brand and help you build your knowledge base so that you can land a full-time position.

What are the main entry-level roles in ad sales?

“Planners tend to be good entry-level points, both on the publishing side and on the agency side,” Sam says. And the great news is that these roles are among the most popular in the field, meaning that there are plenty of opportunities for you to find a position right out of college.

If you really want to learn a lot as quickly as possible, Sam recommends going the agency route. “You’re going to get a good understanding of everything, both working with a brand and working with a publisher. From there you can jump off and figure out what it is that works best for your skill set,” he says.

How can recent grads make themselves stand out to hiring managers?

Although there is a lot of competition in ad sales, Sam emphasizes that it’s definitely possible to stand out from the pack. The key is going the extra mile. “It can be as simple as sending a handwritten thank you note. You’d be amazed how far those go,” he says, explaining that it shows a level of dedication most people don’t have.

The real secret however, is getting creative. “You can find unique ways to use the platform that you’re applying to,” Sam explains. “At Snapchat, we recently had an interviewee drop a thank you geofilter over the office the day after interviewing.” Needless to say, the candidate made a great impression by not only going above and beyond what was expected, but by also showing that she understood the platform and how to use it effectively.

Finally, what’s the one piece of advice all college students and recent grads need?

Although ad sales has its own unique characteristics and challenges, there’s one piece of career advice that definitely applies to all students and recent grads: Don’t waste your time. “College is a unique point in our lives where we have resources available and time available to do a number of things,” Sam explains. “Try to find something you’re passionate about, experiment a little bit and make sure that you take advantage of your time on campus.”

As a rapidly growing part of digital media, ad sales offers fantastic opportunities to build your skill set while also learning more about an innovative industry. The key to landing an ad sales job, especially at a great platform like Snapchat, is to learn as much as possible about advertising while also representing your skills and experience effectively in an interview. And above all, don’t be afraid to get creative. This will help you stand out to employers and be at the top of their minds when they’re ready to make an offer.

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