Nike, McDonalds, Coca-Cola — all well-known companies, with easily identifiable products, who stand out among their competitors by and through their advertising. Logos, catch phrases, pictures, sounds — these byproducts of advertising are often just as much a part of a company or brand as the products themselves. A ‘swoosh’ symbol on the side of a shoe, Michael Jordan, a sesame seed bun, a clown in a yellow jumpsuit with a red wig, a red and white soda can, or a ‘secret formula’ can immediately trigger images of certain products. Actually, all of these products have a secret formula. That formula is, talented people + strong advertising = a successful product.

Advertising is no longer a bunch of old men sitting around a big table in a smoke-filled room, coming up with cheesy jingles and silly sales pitches. Advertising is now a high tech industry using innovative technologies and cutting-edge business practices. It’s a rare success story these days in which someone has successfully ‘made it’ in the advertising industry without an advertising or related degree. Gone are the days when a catchy phrase or good idea would move you from the mailroom to a plush executive office. A marketing degree is truly a necessity to make it in advertising today.

What makes an advertising degree program great?

What differentiates a good advertising degree program from a great one is the ability to balance education and class time with real world experience and training. Many of the better programs now enable students to get a taste of what it’s like to work in and with advertising companies through internship opportunities and the chance to network with those already in the workforce. The gap between classroom studies, coursework, and real world experience is often filled in better degree programs with group work, projects, presentations, simulations, and team exercises. This structured experience can prepare a student for what to expect when working in the advertising industry.

Why do I need a degree?

You might be saying to yourself, “I already have great creativity, intelligence, and the perfect personality needed to fit within the world of advertising. Why do I need a degree too?

It’s a great question, and one that is pondered by students of nearly every degree program at some point. It’s true that creativity, intelligence, and a great personality are all characteristics that can play a huge role in succeeding within the advertising industry. However, the ability to harness and best utilize these characteristics in the most effective way possible is what a degree program can offer. Not only this, but you will be provided with tools such as courses that teach the latest in industry standards, technology, as well as discovering more about the different advertising careers available. Your degree will also make you eligible to apply for many positions that require, or at least request a degree, and can give you a leg up on the competition when searching for jobs.

Career in Advertising

One of the best things about working in advertising is that there is a wide variety of positions available to both outgoing personalities as well as the more introverted type. From the public relations, sales, marketing, and management roles, to the artistic development, research, and strategic aspects of the industry, the available careers run the gambit. Entering the field with a degree from a top program can allow you to settle in to a mid to upper-level position earlier in your career. While those without degrees might spend their first years in the industry building experience as assistants, junior sales execs, or in similar subordinate roles, you can utilize your education to leapfrog some of those entry-level positions, allowing for better pay and better career advancement opportunities.

For more information regarding marketing programs, check out the Marketing Schools directory.