What Education Do You Need for an Advertising Career?

How To Choose the Best Education for the Job.

Education and Advertising
Education and Advertising. Getty Images

usinesThere are many different and varied roles in advertising, and all of them usually require some kind of related educational background as an entry point. It was not always the case. In the 1960s, even through to the early 1980s, advertising was often a career people stumbled into by chance. But now, competition is fierce, and if you want to succeed, you should follow a particular proven path based on the current state of the industry.


Beginning your career in advertising may feel overwhelming at first. The education, the personality, even trying to get the interview can quickly discourage you. These are some of the most common concerns anyone with an interest in the ad industry has. Having a degree under your belt always helps you get off to the right start. But however you proceed, here is some advice to follow. 


Education for a Creative Role in Advertising

If you're looking to be a copywriter, there are two routes available to you...a writing education, or a creative education. There are many successful copywriters who hold a degree in English. You'll also find a large number of ad pros with a degree in Communications. Even a decade ago, the writing education was still a possibility, but to be honest, these days you'll have a hard time breaking into a major advertising agency. Copywriters are expected to think visually, and should know how to work hand-in-hand with an art director or designer.

So, while a major in English or some other kind of writing course may give you a good start, you'll need more. Plus, it's worth noting that most copywriters break a lot of the rules of the language they write in anyway.

Therefore, if you want to be a copywriter, designer, or art director, you should definitely look at an education in the areas of advertising, design, public relations and marketing.

 Not every university offers degrees in Advertising, Marketing or Public Relations. However, if you specifically want to be trained in these areas while in college, you can take a look at the list of colleges and universities offering these programs.

You're not limited to a career in copywriting if you hold your degree in English. However, as a Communications major, you are exposed to a wide variety of courses that give you insight into a lot of different aspects of a career in advertising, journalism, marketing and public relations. Since you have to take specific courses to fulfill your degree requirements, you'll find a lot of the courses you need to take fall right in line with the career you're pursuing.

Education for an Account Role in Advertising

If you're more interested in the account management side of things, you have far more options open to you. Account managers often have a degree in marketing or sales, and hold a BSc rather than a BA. If you have an aptitude for lateral thinking, organization, presentation, and are good at persuasiveness, this could be the right approach for you. Anything from English and Communications, to Psychology and Business Management are great entry points into the career.

Of course, you need to pair them with relevant experience, so getting an internship is vital. 


Other Ways To Get Into the Industry

Another way to get that exposure to the industry is to intern. You want to get the most out of your internship and it can be a great foot in the door when you're out of college or if you find a part-time agency job while you're still in school. A lot of agencies are looking to fill certain positions with select interns so take it as serious as you would a 9-5 job that paid six figures.

As for other sources of information, the Balance is a good place to start, and Getting Started in Advertising should be your first stop. There are a lot of articles that show you exactly how to get started in the field, no matter what your experience level. The Career Source section is another area you will definitely want to visit.

If you're serious about a career in advertising, though, you can get started without a degree. How far up the ladder you go without a degree will depend on a number of things, including your own career goals but you can have a successful career in advertising without holding a bachelor's degree.

With that said, know that whether you pursue a degree in either English or Communications, with a degree to your credit you will have an advantage when going after your first job in advertising. But nothing can replace the ideas and creativity that should be in your portfolio. Agencies want talent, and you have to prove you can do the job.