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Is a Marketing Degree Worth It in the 2020s? Five insider factors to consider before committing.

By Julia McCoy Edited by Russell Sicklick

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The marketing industry is on fire.

With 50 percent of the top 10 marketing jobs being in the explosive digital/media space, it's no wonder this generally recession-proof industry sparks so much interest among potential college students.

But since the cost of college has skyrocketed 25 percent, more parents and students are wondering if a marketing degree is still worth it.

Will a four-year college degree really give students what they need to succeed in the digital marketing space?

I dropped out of college at 19 years old, uninspired and uninterested in what I was learning in college, to follow my passion. Little did I know, the brand I created at 19 would go on to earn $5M in sales and hire 100 people!

There are amazing stories of so many self-starter entrepreneurs that have had similar experiences: I'm not the only one. We live in an incredible age. It's never been a better time to step up to the challenge of taking risks. Creating our own inventions and brands with marketing skills that we can learn from a coach or practitioner, and leaving the norm.

Related: Here's How to Build Your Own DIY MBA in Digital Marketing

Is a marketing degree worth it in the 2020s?

If you are or know a budding creative entrepreneur considering a marketing degree, make sure they've asked themselves these important questions first:

1. Is marketing a good career for the future?

Marketing is one of the hottest fields to learn and get a job in right now, and it's not slowing down. In the first half of 2021, the total number of marketing jobs listed on LinkedIn grew by an astonishing 63 percent.

However, you're not going to start, run and scale a million-dollar content business with just a degree. There are very specific skills and processes involved, and many professors simply don't know them. There are some solid digital marketing programs being taught in higher education. But, the cost can be extremely prohibitive — especially when you look at the deficient curriculums.

Related: This Is Why You Should Consider Getting a Degree in Marketing

2. Are marketing degrees in-demand?

Important differentiation: marketing skills are in demand, not marketing degrees.

Digital skills are at the top of that list.

A four-year marketing degree is going to cost a lot of time and money. And sadly, the programs being taught at universities today are just starting to cover digital marketing. This explains why even Google announced they want to disrupt the four-year degree with their own certificates.

Another big catch to these in-demand marketing degrees? They aren't teaching people the business behind digital marketing. And that's where the big money in the industry is — it's in the process. Marketing degrees lack the key lessons behind making content marketing scalable and sustainable like:

  1. The way to work smarter, not harder.
  2. Methods for building a team and delegating tasks.
  3. How to scale impact and revenue without getting burnt out.

Employers are looking for marketing managers who know not just what to do, but how to do it. In my experience, the lack of that procedural knowledge is usually the barrier between you and successful marketing in your business.

3. Does marketing pay well?

Does marketing make a lot of money? Can marketers make millions?

That depends.

Do you want to get employed on a company's marketing team, grind your way up to management and feel drawn toward a 9-5 lifestyle within corporate culture? Some of those companies require marketing degrees, so you'll need one if you're going that route.

But here's the thing — there are successful marketers that are rich. But if you look at the resume of the top content marketers out there, they're marketing entrepreneurs who run their own businesses — not employees.

When considering if a marketing degree is worth it in the 2020s, taking your long-term goals into account is vital. Do you want to build a sustainable online business for yourself or build someone else's dream? If you've got big career aspirations that can't be contained inside a single cubicle, you don't need a marketing degree. You can seek out a mentor, coaching and a program to teach you the processes involved in running an online content business yourself.

4. Is marketing a fun career?

Although it's not always easy, marketing can be a very fun career.

It's a creative field that attracts many imaginative and gifted people. Marketing can be impactful, artistic and engaging.

But some marketers will tell you the day-to-day work can be a grind. Without the right processes in place, a fun and exciting marketing career can turn bleak and exhausting quickly.

That's one of the reasons I think it's a shame that more colleges aren't teaching content marketing systems in their programs. Because running your own marketing business that builds wealth while freeing your time is wildly fun. I can say that from experience.

5. How can I get started in marketing?

So, what's the easiest way to get started in marketing?

Ask yourself what interested you in marketing in the first place.

Are you a writer? A Don Draper superfan? Do you have dreams of a creative job that lets you work less and make more?

Revisit why you ended up here and ask yourself…can a professor teach what you need to know to thrive in today's marketing space?

Even though traditional academics haven't kept up, you no longer have to figure out digital marketing alone. More and more, we're seeing driven creative entrepreneurs of all ages jump head-first into learning marketing through much more efficient methods. For example, working with mentors and enrolling in coaching programs.

You don't have to wait for next semester — you can learn the right marketing skills and real-life processes in the next 90 days for less than 10 percent of what a four-year degree costs. We've even seen parents get an incredible ROI by investing in practical business coaching for their student versus an expensive marketing degree.

In the end, the question is really this: Is a marketing degree worth it to you?

There might be something about the experience of college that you're drawn to, or the expectations in our culture around institutional degrees. Those are valid factors to consider. But, if those are the only things stopping you from skipping the marketing degree and saving the tuition, it's not going to be worth it for you.

Related: Top 5 Digital Marketing Jobs for Beginners

Julia McCoy

Creator, Content Hacker™

Julia McCoy is the creator of The Content Transformation System and The Content Hacker. Starting at 19 years old, she built a brand from $75 to over $5 million in gross revenue. She's also a six-time bestselling author and host of The Content Transformation podcast.

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