Most entry-level professional and managerial positions in advertising and public relations services require a bachelor’s degree, preferably with broad liberal arts exposure.
Beginners in advertising usually enter the industry in the account management or media department. Occasionally, entry-level positions are available in the market research or creative departments of an agency, but these positions usually require some experience. Completing an advertising-related internship while in school provides an advantage when applying for an entry-level position; in fact, internships are becoming a necessary step to obtaining permanent employment. In addition to an internship, courses in marketing, psychology, accounting, statistics, and creative design can help prepare potential entrants for careers in this field.
Assistant account executive, the entry-level account management position in most firms, requires a bachelor’s degree in marketing or advertising. At some agencies, a master’s degree in business administration may be required.
Bachelor’s degrees are not required for entry-level positions in the creative department. Assistant art directors usually need at least a 2-year degree from an art or design school. Although assistant copywriters do not need a degree, obtaining one helps to develop the superior communication skills and abilities required for this job.
Assistant media planner or assistant media buyer also are good entry-level positions, but almost always require a bachelor’s degree, preferably with a major in marketing or advertising. Experienced applicants who possess at least a master’s degree usually fill research positions. Often, they have a background in marketing or statistics and years of experience. Requirements for support services and administrative positions depend on the job and vary from firm to firm.
In public relations, employers prefer applicants with degrees in communications, journalism, English, or business. Some 4-year colleges and universities have begun to offer a concentration in public relations. Because there is keen competition for entry-level public relations jobs, workers are encouraged to gain experience through internships, co-op programs, or one of the formal public relations programs offered across the country. However, these programs are not available everywhere, so most public relations workers get the bulk of their training on the job. At some firms, this training consists of formal classroom education but, in most cases, workers train under the guidance of senior account executives or other experienced workers, gradually familiarizing themselves with public relations work. Entry-level workers often start as research or account assistants and may be promoted to account executive, account supervisor, vice president, and executive vice president.
Voluntary accreditation programs for public relations specialists and management consultants, respectively, are offered by the Public Relations Society of America and the Institute of Management Consultants. Both programs are recognized marks of competency in the profession and require that workers have been employed in the field for several years.
Employees in advertising and public relations services should have good people skills, common sense, creativity, communication skills, and problem-solving ability. Foreign language skills have always been important for those wanting to work abroad for domestic firms or to represent foreign firms domestically. However, these skills are increasingly vital to reach linguistic minorities in U.S. cities such as Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Houston, and Phoenix. New media, such as the Internet, are creating opportunities to market products, but are also increasing the need for additional training for those already employed. Keeping pace with technology is fundamental to success in the industry. Besides staying abreast of new technology, advertisers must keep in tune with the changing values, cultures, and fashions of the Nation.
Success in progressively responsible staff assignments usually leads to advancement to supervisory positions. As workers climb the organizational ladder, broad vision and planning skills become extremely important. Another way to get to the top in this industry is to open one’s own firm. In spite of the difficulty and high failure rate, many find starting their own business to be personally and financially rewarding. Among the self-employed, advancement takes the form of increasing the size and strength of the company.
Management Training in the United States
A wide range of educational backgrounds is suitable for entry into advertising, marketing, promotions, public relations, and sales managerial jobs, but many employers prefer those with experience in related occupations plus a broad liberal arts background. A bachelor's degree in sociology, psychology, literature, journalism, or philosophy, among other subjects, is acceptable. However, requirements vary, depending upon the particular job.
1. Unknown author; The 2004-05 Career Guide to Industries; U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; Washington DC USA; 2004; Available http://www.bls.gov/oco/cg/home.htm.