Is marketing (actually) a good major? (Honest opinion)

Are you asking yourself if marketing is a good major? Here's what you need to know about getting a degree in marketing in 2024 and beyond.

Is marketing (actually) a good major? (Honest opinion)

The marketing job outlook is promising in 2024. But it’s not for everyone. Personality type, work environments, type of work, and personal fulfillment play a huge role. By the end of this article, you’ll have a good idea if marketing is a good major for you.

Marketing isn’t as modern a concept as you might assume. Since ancient times, where goods were publicly sold, marketing has had a major impact on our society. Whether it was through word of mouth, signposts, or printed materials, as soon as there were merchants, there was marketing.

Modern marketing began with the printing press, when it became possible to reach large numbers of people with advertisements, handbills, and posters. The twentieth century saw an explosion in the variety of media channels by which the public could be reached, and the digital revolution accelerated this into the twenty-first century.

In short, there are more positions in marketing than ever before, because there are more channels for each company to explore, and more products to sell. According to Statista, barring a minor dip in 2020, the marketing sector in the US has grown year-on year since 2017, rising from $234 billion to over $250 billion in 2021.

But let’s round out our definition a little more, before we assess how useful a marketing degree might prove in the real-world.

What exactly is marketing?

Philip Kotler, Professor of Marketing at the Kellogg School, had a generously broad definition of his discipline. He described it as “a social and managerial process by which individuals and groups obtain what they need and want through creating and exchanging products and value with one another.”

More recently (2017), the American Marketing Association defined it as “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”

What both definitions have in common is the notion of exchange. In marketing, one group, who have a product or service, identify, and approach another group who need that item. Marketing is intimately connected to its subsequent stage, sales, which carries the relationship through to a confirmed purchase, and hopefully an ongoing relationship with customers.

In 2022, marketing is largely digital marketing. While legacy media like print, TV, cinema, and outdoor advertising are still important components of many marketing strategies, digital (particularly social media and search engine optimization(SEO)) provides an opportunity to reach a huge, targeted audience for an optimized financial spend, which accounts for its meteoric rise.

A recent Statista report revealed that over 91% of American marketers in companies with over 100 employees are expected to use social media in their day-to-day work. And Sprout Social claims that mobile social media advertising spend is projected to be over $255.8 billion by 2028. So yes, marketing will continue to become every more important — especially in the AI-driven world we are headed towards.

Is a marketing degree worth it?

Marketing is a great major for anyone interested in learning about strategies, methods, and procedures to help businesses incease revenue through different products and services. A marketing degree can also help you understand human psychology and why people buy from particular brands over other ones.

A marketing degree also allows you to learn both technical and soft skills. From analytics and doing competitor research to communication and creative strategy, a degree in marketing will teach you how to recognize client needs and create initiatives to address them. You'll also develop your abilities in product management, branding, pricing, promotions, and advertising.

However, it's important to note that marketing is a very board field. It's a good major if you want to keep your interests broad. But as you move on into your marketing career it's important to find what you love most and become the best at it.

What disciplines does marketing encompass?

Marketing as a subject has far-reaching scope and includes insights and skills gleaned from many different sciences and fields. In other words, variety is part of its appeal. If you have a naturally enquiring mind, you’ll find a lot of fascinating subjects covered under the umbrella of marketing.

A good marketing course will draw upon aspects of:

  • Psychology: How and why humans are influenced.
  • Neuroscience: The role the brain plays in consumer behavior.
  • Sociology: The social aspects of human transactions and communication.
  • Economics: How marketing creates wealth and value.
  • The Arts: How images, music, and other sensory stimuli constitute marketing.
  • Technology: How new technologies help or hinder marketing goals.
  • Business: How companies have historically achieved marketing goals.

There are other scientific and technological skills that contribute to the body of marketing knowledge, but the above disciplines provide the most powerful insights. If this looks like a daunting list, don’t worry! The best designed marketing courses cherry-pick insights from different subjects and don’t require a thorough grounding in any one of these areas.

The pleasure of a marketing course lies in this all-encompassing field of study. Great marketers have a rounded understanding of human nature, technology, and creativity, and this makes them highly flexible and in-demand employees.

What personality traits make a good marketer?

Marketing majors best suit well-rounded individuals with strategic and creative ability, who excel in communication and team working.

personality questions for marketers

If most of the following statements apply to you, then you may be a good fit for a marketing qualification:

  • I enjoy problem solving in a team.
  • I love meeting the public and canvassing opinion.
  • I enjoy being creative in a practical way.
  • I find I can read people well.
  • I’m good at shaping messages that prove effective.
  • I like to apply research to a problem.

As you can see, you need to have a mixture of extroversion, creativity, and strategic insight. Of course, nobody expects marketing students to have grasped all these skills before gaining knowledge and practical experience, but if you are enthusiastic about improving the above abilities, that’s an excellent start.

Marketing is such a wide industry that if you excel in a couple of areas, but are weaker in others, there may still be a niche role that suits you perfectly. For instance, events marketing has a much more social and team-working focus than social media marketing (ironically, perhaps). Content marketing is more intensely creative than market research. Wherever your enthusiasms and skills lie, you’ll be able to find job openings that match your personality type.

Another approach to narrowing down the field is to focus on one aspect of marketing and consider whether that field best matches your interests and abilities. Are you a social media junkie, or do you want to focus on sponsorship opportunities and branded events? What marketing activities do you most relish, and what marketing skills are necessary to those tasks?

Let’s look at a range of entry level positions across the full spectrum of marketing.

What are some entry-level positions in marketing?

Here is just a short sample of seven different entry-level marketing jobs you might apply for when pursing a marketing career:

1. Market research assistant

This role can encompass everything from creating, promoting, and assessing online surveys, to helping run focus groups and canvassing public opinion on the street. It can help you gain insights into how to apply research methods effectively, and how to increase public participation in providing product feedback.

Market research is one of the earliest stages in devising a marketing strategy and can also inform product design and branding. This job would suit very sociable and methodical graduates, who are patient and detail orientated.

2. Social media marketing

Call this, all things marketing management for social media. Take on this position and you could find yourself in charge of one or more social media feeds for a brand or product. Whether it’s composing tweets with hashtags that trend, or creating short videos, product shots and copy for Instagram, this can be a very creative and fast-moving job.

If you’re already an active user of social media, and especially if you have expertise in fast-growing channels like Twitch and TikTok, you may already be in demand for such a role. Social media marketing attracts graduates who enjoy instant feedback on their successes and failures, since performance metrics are integral to social media marketing campaigns — likes, retweets, clicks, and shares.

3. Marketing assistant

A general assistant role should provide a variety of interesting activities, working alongside one or more marketing executives and managers. Smaller brands may provide more opportunities to try your hand at varying tasks, but even a global giant will keep assistants busy and will provide invaluable experience.

Assistant roles are good for graduates who are love business administration and are ambitious, since there is frequently a clear path to promotion and increasing responsibility. They are also ideal for rounding out theoretical knowledge with hands-on activity.

4. Communications assistant

This type of assistant role may sit within marketing, PR, or marketing communications departments. You may be helping to produce press releases, write or commission content for blogs or third-party sites, or assisting with internal communications.

If copywriting is a passion of yours, this is an excellent entry-level job. Although at first you may be producing product descriptions or helping put together a brand’s voice and tone guide, in time you may be tasked with generating longer pieces of content or developing content strategies.

Communications might best suit someone with an interest in the written word, but it can also involve producing podcasts, webinars, and other multimedia content. Particularly in B2B marketing, software platforms often gain a competitive edge by offering excellent support libraries (here’s HubSpot’s expansive resource library, for instance.)

5. Influencer marketing coordinator

Alongside the meteoric rise of YouTube, Instagram and TikTok, a brand-new marketing channel has developed in recent years — influencer marketing. This strategy leverages the significant followings of notable online influencers whose audience demographic meshes with a particular brand.

Influencers post reviews, hauls, unboxings, and other sponsored content, under paid agreements with brands. In return for sponsorship money, influencers must be guided to properly represent the brand, while retaining enough of their unique charisma to keep audiences on-side.

Some brands use large teams of influencers, and coordination is vital to make sure brand guidelines are adhered to and mistakes are avoided. This is where you would come in. It’s a great role for a people person who enjoys influencer-led content and can be subtly persuasive and encouraging.

6. Junior market research analyst

This may not sound like a marketing role, but researching the competitive environment is an essential part of marketing and sales management. Analysts often use high-tech tools such as AI and machine learning to data scrape competitor sites, product review pages and news sites for mentions of products and brands.

Utilizing methods including sentiment analysis and data analytics, these marketing positions involve a lot of number crunching and use of data resources to identify trends and opportunities within a particular sector. This role would suit someone who loves manipulating data and enjoys creating strategies to maximize digital insights.

7. Public relations assistant

You may consider PR to be a different industry, but it’s strongly allied to marketing. PR is where you build the allies who help promote your brand (or in certain situations, help engage in damage limitation). It’s still a form of marketing because you’re selling the value proposition of a new product, promoting a rebranding, or celebrating a launch into a new sector or territory (to give just three examples). In other words, it’s still transactional.

PR assistants help with the process of preparing press releases and contacting journalists, influencers, and other stakeholders. They are very personable and persuasive, able to place stories in influential outlets to promote the corporate strategy. They help arrange launch events and promotional materials and are good at strategizing and building contacts.

As you can see from this brief rundown of entry-level marketing positions, there is a huge amount of variety within the broad marketing umbrella. While there are a host of college degree-level courses which offer a grounding in a whole range of skills, it may also be possible to hone your existing skillset by focusing in on a particular topic in a short course.

Can I learn digital marketing without a marketing degree?

The simple answer is yes. There are numerous free or paid resources, certifications and non-degree marketing programs which focus upon digital marketing. As we’ve discussed, this is by far the fastest growing discipline within the marketing sector. It’s where the innovation is chiefly happening and offers good opportunities for promotion and growth.

If you want a more rounded understanding of marketing and have the time and money to devote to a degree course, there are plenty of universities offering coursework at masters and postgraduate level. Online degree programs exist, and graduates can even study for a PhD if they want to take their expertise further. The AMA lists dozens of such programs worldwide.

If you’re less academically inclined, and simply want to study a particular aspect of marketing to improve your income and employment prospects, there are plenty of good options in online classes and short programs too.

If you’d like to know more about digital marketing courses, we’ve created a handy guide on just that topic. Find it here.

The takeaway: The marketing field is wide

We hope this article has clarified how varied and wide-reaching marketing is as a discipline, and if pursing a marketing degree is worth your time. There are lots of different career paths for marketing professional that get a bachelor’s degree in marketing. It’s a growing sector pulling in graduates and experts with very different skillsets and personalities. For as long as companies are selling products and services, marketing will exist.

If it appeals to you, and you choose to study it, you should readily find a profitable role upon completion.

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