Last updated on January 13th, 2023
If you’ve tried your hand at digital marketing or running your own business, then perhaps you have found an interest in advertising.
I’ve met plenty of advertisers who switched from other aspects of marketing, or students who are thinking about going into advertising for their career although they have been studying business.
So, if you want to get into the advertising industry as a career move, then here’s some advice I have for you. This advice is based on my own research, my experiences as a digital marketer, and from talking to my networks in the advertising industry.
I hope you find it inspiring and useful!
What Is Advertising?
First, let me talk a little about advertising and how it works as an industry.
Advertising is a component of marketing as it involves promoting a product, service, or brand. As a result, having a career in advertising can mean getting into a lot of very different roles.
Some examples of jobs in the advertising industry include social media coordinator, web designer, copywriter, and market researcher. Each of these are also in high demand.
For example, 82% of marketers use content marketing, which requires content creators like copywriters and researchers to find out what kind of content audiences want.
So, saying you want to start out in the advertising industry is too broad a statement.
There are tons of different careers you can end up taking – so my first piece of advice is to decide what kind of career you want in the advertising industry.
Are you a writer, or a designer? A planner or a researcher? Only you can find the answer.
Step One: Get A Degree
A great way to set the basis for your future career is to first study and earn a qualification in that field. According to Zippia, 77% of advertising managers have a bachelor’s degree while 10% have an associate’s degree and 7% have a masters.
So, statistically, having a degree will help you find and settle into an advertising role – but it’s more than just that.
Learning about advertising on a higher education level allows you to learn about advertising strategies and techniques, develop important skills which are useful for your future career, and focus on topics and skills more relevant to your desired role.
For example, if you want to be a graphic designer, then taking a graphic designer course will help you have a more focused idea on what skills you need and strategies you can try.
However, you don’t need a degree in advertising specifically to get into the advertising industry.
Degrees related to marketing and communications also help individuals develop the creative, analytical, and managerial skills needed for advertisers to thrive in their new roles.
So, even though you don’t have a degree in advertising, having a degree in a related field is a great way to ensure you have the basic skills needed to have a successful advertising career.
I started out with a BA in Economics and Marketing and having this degree really did help me find my feet as I started my career.
Of course, I still had a lot to learn along the way – which brings me onto the next step.
Step Two: Get Experience
There is only so much you can learn in a lecture hall and I think a lot of marketers (see also, ‘How to Learn Digital Marketing at Home & for Free‘) would agree with me when I say that a lot of us learnt some really important lessons through experience.
For example, when I started as a digital marketer, I began creating websites but those websites weren’t particularly successful.
It was only in my further research did I learn about SEO and other digital marketing techniques, and then applying them helped me see their impact.
So, I would really recommend that you try and get as much experience as possible.
Volunteer with an agency, shadow someone in the field you are interested in moving into, get an internship – do whatever you can to get some experience behind you and see what day-to-day work is like in your desired advertising career.
Not only might you discover that it’s not actually for you, but you could also learn some important skills and wisdom along the way.
Step Three: Build A Portfolio
This step depends heavily on what type of advertising job you want.
If you want to be a copywriter or a graphic designer, then it’s a good idea to create a portfolio of your work.
This way, when you apply for positions or reach out to clients, you have some examples of your work ready for them to view and evaluate.
Make sure to include your best work, that it reflects your personality as a person and meets a professional level.
If the advertising role you are hoping for isn’t exactly one you need a portfolio for, then I’d still recommend bringing up projects you help create and work on and show the results of that.
Step Four: Network
This is where having some experience can really come in handy because you will have created links with agencies, businesses, and other people in the same advertising field as you.
Networking can have a huge impact on how you find a new job, move up within your career, and even find potential clients.
70% of jobs are never advertised publicly and this statistic is generally credited to two reasons – the business is hiring internally, or the role is already filled by someone else they are connected to due to networking.
According to this study from LinkedIn, 70% of professional employees were hired while having a connection with their company.
That same report also showed that 80% of professional employees also consider networking to be important for their career’s success – so it’s clear that networking can have a big impact on your
Networking in the advertising (and marketing) industry can be tricky because a lot of businesses do their work online – but there are still in person and online events you can attend and start to make connections, social media groups you can join, and platforms like LinkedIn where you can reach out.
Don’t lose touch with your college buddies who work in the same field – they may become important connections for you one day.
Going freelance helps you make connections with a ton of companies who will become familiar with your work.
Like I said earlier, offering your services as a volunteer and starting an internship can help you introduce your name to advertising agencies and businesses.
Even if you don’t stick around, try to stay in touch.
Overall, breaking into the advertising industry is just like trying to get a job in any other industry.
The same advice you will hear over and over again is to get a qualification, get experience, build a portfolio, and network with companies and clients.
The important thing, in my opinion, is that you develop the right skills and gather as much knowledge as possible for your field of work.
If you want to be a copywriter, then write. If you want to go into market research, study a degree for market research.
Even if you start out with no real world experience and no connections, your skills and quality of work will begin to speak for itself.
After all, if you’re not suited for the role, you won’t be able to succeed no matter how good your connections are.