It should come as no surprise that almost all the top-ranking entries in US News and World Report’s roundup of the best-paying jobs are in the medical field. What may surprise you, however, is that marketing manager is #15 on the list. It’s not that there aren’t higher-paying roles in marketing. No, what’s noteworthy is that marketing manager pays so well and also made it onto the publication’s 100 Best Jobs List.
Clearly, a marketing manager’s salary isn’t the only reason to look into what it takes to land this position. These essential members of the marketing team work in leadership roles, but still exercise their creativity every day, according to Marc Pritchard, global marketing and brand building officer at Procter & Gamble. “It’s an exciting profession that allows you to unleash your potential and pursue your passions in ways you never thought possible.”
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that jobs for marketing managers will grow at an average rate in the next ten years. Social media, and e-commerce with it, is growing at an astounding rate, which means more space for marketing initiatives. Even when the job market is weak, marketing manager positions should be relatively secure.
That said, salary is definitely one reason people become marketing managers. The BLS reports that marketing managers earn about $141,490 per year, and they can potentially earn more if they specialize in one area of marketing, like digital or brand marketing. Will you make that much? It’s hard to predict because so many things influence how much marketing managers earn.
In this article about the factors that can affect a marketing manager salary, we cover:
ZipRecruiter sums up the role nicely: “On a daily basis, marketing managers oversee all marketing campaigns” for their employers. They “brainstorm ideas for new campaigns, coordinating with the sales team and other departments” to develop successful strategies. In other words, marketing managers are still creatives, even though they also have to analyze market data and trends, monitor and evaluate the success of ongoing campaigns, and develop integrated marketing strategies designed for maximum ROI. Most marketing managers spend their days:
Collaboration is a huge aspect of a marketing manager position. You’ll discuss marketing plans and overall brand messaging with executives, develop and maintain budgets with the finance department, and work with other leaders to manage employees.
You’ll evaluate teams, employees (and potential employees), potential partners, markets, and the overall department performance, plus help set prices for products and services.
Marketing is all about trends. You’ll lead focus groups and market research studies, plus keep an eye on competitor tactics.
You’ll need to negotiate internally with other high-ranking members of the company on the direction of projects. Additionally, you’ll likely need to negotiate contracts with third parties.
A marketing manager’s responsibilities seem simple enough, but this is a high-pressure, results-driven role that involves keeping many balls in the air at once. Marketing managers have to have experience in almost all facets of advertising, from direct mail to digital marketing to data analysis.
Working in roles like marketing specialist and marketing coordinator can help you gain the experience you’ll need to become a marketing manager, but education is equally as important. Most marketing managers have a bachelor’s degree in marketing (e.g., a Bachelor of Science in Marketing) or in a related discipline such as advertising or market research. It’s also possible to launch a career in marketing with a degree in analytics, communications, information technology, English, or business administration. However, you may be able to command a higher starting salary right out of college if you have a marketing degree.
You don’t necessarily need a marketing master’s degree like a Master of Science in Marketing to become a marketing manager. Only 37 percent of marketing managers have advanced degrees, according to Salary.com. So, chances are that most marketing managers advance into this position via experience alone. If, however, you want to earn the highest possible marketing manager salary, a master’s degree will definitely be an asset.
The MS is only one possible option. An MBA in marketing will take you just as far, and you should also look into hyper-focused degrees like Yeshiva University‘s MS in Digital Marketing and Media. According to the school’s program guide, graduating from the program is equivalent to spending years in a junior marketing role.
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Answering this question is tricky because there is so much conflicting information out there. The BLS paints a rosy picture when it comes to marketing manager salaries, and US News and World Report backs up the claim that the average marketing manager salary is in the mid-$130,000 range. Looking at other recent marketing manager salaries, Salary.com reports that the average marketing manager salary is about $108,000. PayScale and Indeed‘s averages are the lowest, firmly in the $60,000s.
There’s no way to know which source is correct because all of them rely on self-reported data to calculate average salaries for different professions. Many factors influence marketing manager salaries, including employer needs, company hierarchy, geographical location, and duties and responsibilities associated with the role at each firm. There’s a chance that more high-paid marketing managers responded to the surveys the BLS uses to calculate its estimates while more lower-paid openings for marketing managers were posted on Indeed.
It’s also worth noting that average salaries for marketing managers skew low because there are so many more marketing managers working for small companies and startups that pay less. There are fewer openings for marketing managers at the kinds of national or multinational corporations that pay marketing managers $100,000+.
Marketing managers with advanced degrees tend to earn an average base salary higher than do marketing managers without master’s degrees. An article by McKinley Marketing Partners which utilizes 2019 numbers states that marketing managers with a master’s can earn over $20,000 more than bachelor’s degree holders.
The most valuable degree when it comes to earning potential is probably an MBA in marketing. LinkedIn’s surveys have found that marketing managers with MBAs are the top earners, with salaries $15,000 higher than the average for this role.
There are many professional certifications for marketing professionals, including the:
According to the SiriusDecisions website, this credential “accelerates your team’s ability to align and create strategic marketing programs that achieve business objectives and grow revenue.” The program is designed for professionals at all levels, includes an online component, and can be completed in 60 days.
This American Bankers’ Association credential is designed for financial professionals working in marketing. Coursework covers topics like data and analytics, leadership, strategy, and revenue generation. To qualify for the program, you should look to have at least three years of experience.
With this online credential from Sales & Marketing Executives International, you’ll build a “holistic understanding of marketing in all of its facets, providing you with a solid foundation for decision making and strategic marketing planning.”
From the Association of International Product Marketing & Management, this credential includes coursework focused on financial topics, analytics, and customer acquisition. Students can complete the program either online or in person.
Offered in conjunction with the American Marketing Association, this program has several track options, including Digital Marketing Pro, Digital Marketing Expert, and Marketing Management. Completing any one of the programs means you’ll be validated by both the AMA and DMI.
This is an online credential from Sales & Marketing Executives International. You’ll learn decision-making, writing, and leadership techniques. The online course is broken into four parts: initiating the marketing process, understanding buyers and markets, targeting marketing opportunities, and satisfying marketing opportunities.
It’s not at all clear, however, how marketing certifications designed for managers and executives impact salaries. A quick look at job listings for marketing executives will show you that very few employers are looking for marketers with specific certifications. That said, having multiple professional marketing certifications may help you stand out in a crowded job market and negotiate for a higher marketing manager salary.
Geography can be a factor in how much you earn as a marketing manager. States with a high concentration of marketing jobs often pay more, and typically have higher costs of living. The BLS notes that the top-paying states, and their annual mean wages, include New York ($194,940), New Jersey ($180,250), California ($176,940), Virginia ($176,640), and Colorado ($172,140).
As a rule, you can also expect to earn more in cities than rural areas. Top-paying cities include Santa Cruz ($213,180), San Jose, California ($211,210), San Francisco, California ($196,260), New York, New York ($195,030), and Valejo, California ($193,140).
There are marketing managers across industries, and they don’t all bring home the same paycheck. According to the BLS, the highest-paying industries are:
Managers earn a median annual wage of $150,280 working for finance and insurance companies. Relevant organizations in the industry include Dow Jones and New York Life.
This category refers to companies that specialize in marketing, including consulting. Relevant organizations include Accenture Interactive and Deloitte Digital. These professionals earn a median annual wage of $149,480.
As a marketing manager for a manufacturing company, you’ll often sell to other businesses. For instance, if your company turns timber into boards, you may get a contract with a company that builds homes. These professionals can expect a median annual wage of $143,800.
This is a large sector, according to the BLS. You’ll sell technical products across different industries and even directly to households. This is the highest-paying category at $150,840.
Wholesale trade involves the distribution of goods, rather than products, which means dealing with other businesses, requiring a highly targeted advertising approach. These managers earn a median annual wage of $134,630.
Many specialty roles for marketing managers pay more than others, too. PayScale reports that the national average salary for marketing managers in the US is about $67,000, while the average yearly salary for global marketing managers is $97,956. Product marketing managers also earn quite a bit more than other marketing managers (PayScale lists a salary of nearly $92,000). Most digital marketing managers, on the other hand, take home a paycheck that’s very close to the common marketing manager salary.
Marketing manager salaries vary significantly by location, industry, highest level of education, and experience. Getting a master’s degree is one way to increase your earning potential in this role, but it’s not a foolproof one. Know that the cost of earning a master’s degree in marketing may not justify the salary boost.
There are higher-paying marketing jobs in big cities, but moving to a big metro area isn’t a guarantee you’ll bring home big bucks in this role. There are more openings for marketing managers in these locations, but there are also more people applying for each opening. The cost of living in big cities is usually higher, too, which means that a big paycheck won’t necessarily go as far. Marketing manager jobs in smaller cities or even suburban or rural areas might pay less on paper, but your paycheck may go further.
You also may be able to jump into a higher tax bracket by switching industries or going to work for a larger company. A marketing manager with a bachelor’s degree working for a large healthcare system will almost always earn more than one employed by a small startup. You’ll probably make the most in this role by taking a job in the insurance sector or the financial industry.
The takeaway is that there are plenty of ways you can increase your earning potential, but there are no guarantees. How much you actually make may depend mainly on how well you’re able to market yourself.
Keep in mind that marketing manager made it onto the US News and World Report best-paying jobs list because it’s also one of the best jobs. The CMOs of the world earn a lot more—about $176,000 before bonuses, commissions, and profit sharing—than the managers they oversee. The highest-paid CMOs take home seven-figure paychecks.
VPs of marketing also earn more than the average marketing manager salary, as do global marketing managers, channel development executives, and market research executives. Marketing directors can earn more, too.
Before you decide to skip over job listings for this role in the hopes of landing something more lucrative, consider that salary averages never tell the whole story. The salary range for this role is massive. There are marketing managers who earn more than $200,000 and marketing managers earning less than $70,000. You might already have the skills and qualifications to net top dollar in this role, but if you’re applying for marketing manager jobs and not receiving the kinds of salary offers you’re looking for, it’s time to think strategically about your next steps. That could mean pursuing a marketing MBA or Master of Science in Marketing, or it might mean saying yes to a lower offer at a company known for quickly promoting from within—both of which can help you take your earning potential to the next level.
(This article was updated on October 21, 2021.)
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