The Modern-Day Marketing Degree: Is It Worth It?
Advice From A Former Marketing Student
In an increasingly digital age, digital marketing has never been more prominent an industry than it is today. Alongside the emergence of social media, more young adults are turning towards digital marketing than ever before; according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, overall employment of marketing professionals is expected to grow 6% between 2019 and 2029 - more than any other profession.
However, while growth within the industry is undoubtedly commendable, lines of entry are starting to get muddled. A teenager dancing on TikTok can generate just as much, if not more, online engagement than a trained marketing professional. While this is certainly within the nature of the Internet, you can’t help but argue that the current state of social media devalues the modern-day marketing degree.
As a new generation pursues careers in digital marketing, I imagine many are questioning whether a college education is even worth it - why pay to be taught things you’ve known since you were fourteen? Perhaps this is why our industry is growing at the rate that it is - digital marketing rewards the trailblazers; a college degree doesn’t equate success.
While a higher-level education is almost always beneficial, the modern-day marketing degree just isn’t for everyone. Postgraduate programs might offer more focus, but a stereotypical bachelor’s degree in marketing is often too wide-ranging for its own good. As marketing often falls under the umbrella of business, many universities group marketing programs with the likes of accounting, finance and economics.
While these courses offer a more comprehensive understanding of the corporate world which we operate within, they can feel like a waste of time if you’re not interested. Unfortunately, when it comes to undergraduate degrees in digital marketing, this is the best we’re ever going to get. Marketing is too broad of a concept to dial in - while a university may offer a class with a concept such as social media marketing, there’s typically only enough material to justify one or two courses.
Essentially, the modern-day marketing degree really isn’t all that modern. Those seeking a college education in digital marketing will fundamentally receive a degree in business. If that interests you, perfect. You’re set. However, if you’re like me and are interested in digital marketing but couldn’t care less about business, you might want to look for an alternative degree.
Fresh outta high school, I simply assumed a marketing degree would be what was best for me. I was interested in corporate copywriting and advertising, and no other major seemed to make sense for those types of things. However, after a year of irrelevant business courses and a general lack of interest in my education, I knew I needed to make a change.
It was here that Dr. Mark Staton, the director of Western’s marketing program, gave me the best piece of professional advice I’ve ever received: as marketing professionals, it’s our skillsets that set us apart. A trained video-editor is often more valuable to a corporation’s marketing team than a quote-on-quote ‘marketing professional,’ because they can deliver work pertaining to a specific and required skill.
In my case, with a strong interest in corporate copywriting, I ultimately chose that an education in public relations was right for me. Instead of wasting time and money taking business courses completely irrelevant to my professional interests, I decided to grow my skillset as a professional writer. As a result, I’m able to offer my clients skills other marketing professionals can’t.
When it comes to your marketing education, use your university to your advantage. Become the marketing professional you want to be, because that’s what’s going to make you valuable.