No matter the size of the business, the industry it revolves around or the core audience it hopes to approach, marketing is an absolute necessity. There isn’t a single business out there that exists without competition. The modern marketplace is truly international, and consumers can discover and interact with companies from any region of the planet on a daily basis. The internet truly changed the game, and now there’s no going back. So if a consumer can execute a quick keyword search and come up with dozens of options for places to take their business, it’s clear that the caliber of their marketing efforts will most likely make the difference between success and failure. You might have the best products, but if you cannot make that known it won’t matter. So if you want to work in marketing you’ll certainly find no shortage of opportunities. But what if you didn’t go to school for it? Can you land a marketing job without a degree?
The short answer is yes, you absolutely can. But the quality of the job and the paycheck you can command will range wildly depending on a number of additional factors. First of all, even though you didn’t get a degree in marketing doesn’t mean you can ignore education altogether. Hiring managers want to see initiative taken, so make sure you find ways to prove your resolve and your will to learn. You’ll almost always need a high school diploma, as most interviewers probably won’t let you in the door if you don’t have that basic amount of schooling. And you should try to get some college courses under your belt if at all possible. Even if you only make it halfway through, the fact that you’ve got some amount of higher education will look great. Consider enrolling in continuing education classes in marketing as well, to show that you aren’t resting on your laurels.
There are other avenues of learning that you should consider as well. Perhaps a four-year college isn’t for you. But have you looked at programs that will teach you related skills? For instance, web design is now a crucial aspect of marketing. If you’ve taken courses in web design or programming, this will be enticing to a large number of companies. Another great option is social media. Take classes in developing a strong social media presence and ongoing campaigns, and you’ll certainly find hiring managers who are willing to talk to you.
What makes marketing such an incredible industry is that nothing matters more than experience. And as with sales, art, creative writing and a host of other disciplines, the best way to learn is by doing it. When you’re starting out, try to get an internship with a marketing company. Even if you’re only going on coffee runs or handling the sticker printing for point of sale campaigns, that experience will pay dividends down the road. Work you do within that marketing company will be useful, but if you cannot land any of those opportunities, look for ways to create one yourself. Offer up your services for a friend or relative that has a small business. If you’re willing to do it for free they really have nothing to lose. And you get to learn by doing it, perfecting your skills through trial and error. Figure out how to track the return on investment for any of your marketing work. That will give you hard numbers you can point to in a resume, and a track record of creating results to refer to during your interview. For work like this, there may be nothing quite as important.