Considering an Advertising Career?

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If you've thought about pursuing an advertising career, don't jump in until you've done a little more research on the field. Although there are definite advantages to advertising jobs, including lucrative salaries and creative work, there are some drawbacks you might want to keep in mind. On the bright side, the field looks to be hitting a high note in terms of growth but don't be too pleased with the news. More and more people are going to be fighting for those available advertising jobs, too.

Potential Positions in the Field

Although advertising is sometimes talked about as one giant entity, there are levels of jobs within that field. Understanding these different jobs can help you decide if an advertising career is right for you but also which positions would be a good fit for you in this industry.

Typically, you'll find most of the available jobs will fall into one of four categories: account services, research, creative, and media. Let's briefly go over what each of these positions entails.

The account services positions form a sort of bridge between the others and the clients. In this role, you are acting as the go to person for the client and that means your job is to convey what they want to the rest of the team and to make sure their needs are being met accordingly. Most people enter account services at one of the lowest levels and work their way up to account executive or accounts supervisor.

Starting out in this part of the job, you would probably either be an assistant account executive or an account coordinator. For these positions, pay usually ranges from $18,000 to $20,000.

One of the least glamorous aspects of advertising is the research department. With these jobs, you'll be working very far behind the scenes and developing information on methodology and statistics which can be used to help clients achieve the results they want.

Additionally, the folks in research make sure everything is accurate. Starting salaries for a research project director range from $30,000 to $55,000.

When we think of advertising, most of us think about being in the creative parts of the business. That would involve brainstorming the concepts, developing the artwork, and preparing the copy for the ads. Entry level positions in these parts of the industry usually will net you around $14,000 to $18,000 a year. However, there is room for advancement.

Finally, there are other parts of the advertising industry which focus on working directly with the media. These positions focus on choosing the right medium for the ads, as well as using statistical models to compare media costs and effectiveness.

In media services, you would also be responsible for buying the advertising space and negotiating rates. An assistant media planner will earn between $15,000 and $25,000 per year.

Advertising Jobs Outlook

Although the entry level salaries for the above positions don't look great, they are just the beginning. For those who stay with the advertising career and who move up the ladder, the pay rates do increase. In 1997, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for an advertising professional was almost $55,000. However, the salaries topped out at over six figures not including bonuses.

The other good news is that the number of available jobs is expected to increase in the next few years by around 30%. That's because of the number of agency mergers and the increase in global advertising demands. More than 250,000 people are currently employed in the field and many of them will begin to retire in the coming years as well which will cause the opening of additional positions.

Requirements for Obtaining a Position in the Field

Advertising careers usually begin, as mentioned above, at the ground floor unless you are moving into advertising jobs from other related fields. Even entry level jobs do require a bachelor's degree. While the major required is not set in stone, most employers prefer to hire people with degrees in advertising, marketing, public relations, journalism, communication, or English because of the skills obtained will be so valuable in the day to day work.

For jobs in the media services and/or in research, degrees focusing on broadcast media and math-oriented fields may be more desirable.

Besides the college degree, employers want to hire people with previous experience. That's why completing an internship is extremely valuable. Although you will not earn money for the internship, you will receive valuable experience and training that can translate into a job offer more easily. Having this advantage is a good idea because advertising is always going to be a competitive field.

Additionally, many people hoping to work in advertising find they need to relocate. Although even medium-size cities have a need for advertising, the opportunities are going to be more limited in these areas. To secure the best possible chance for success, you may want to search for positions in major cities, such as New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. The pay scale is usually better in these areas as well.

Other Factors to Consider

Advertising jobs are more than full-time positions; they can take over your life. More than 40% of people in these positions work over 50 hours a week. Because you'll be a salaried employee, you won't receive more pay for those extra hours either.

In many cases, you'll need to be available at a moment's notice to deal with a client's problem or an issue with the creative team. You will also be asked to work with a team of other competitive and creative people which can, at times, be a challenge itself.

However, one of the most fulfilling parts of an advertising career is seeing the final product on a billboard, a commercial, or in a magazine and knowing you played a role in its creation.


Keeping in mind all of the above, you should be able to decide whether or not an advertising job would be the best choice for you. If you choose to pursue an advertising career, you will now know where to begin.
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