Becoming a Director of Marketing

Grand Canyon University
B.S. in Applied Marketing and Advertising and M.B.A. Marketing

The director of marketing, often referred to as the marketing director, plays a vital role in the overall image and consistency of marketing campaigns within a company or organization.  The duties of the director of marketing may vary depending on the size of the organization.  As an upper level position, the director of marketing may oversee many aspects of the marketing process from the initial client consultation to budgeting, planning, executing and analyzing the campaign.

The director of marketing differs from marketing managers in that they focus on the overall campaign strategy, rather than focusing on specific divisions or leading staff members.  In large companies, the director of marketing oversees the team of marketing managers. The director of marketing focuses on market segments and sales figures.  Where a marketing manager may be in charge of one specific division in an organization, the director of marketing oversees all divisions.

Identifying the target audience and determining the best way to reach that audience is the overall goal of the marketing department.  Responsibilities of directors of marketing include conducting product research, evaluating demand and establishing pricing. The marketing director may also be involved with developing advertising campaigns and selecting media outlets, such as online, television, radio, billboards or newspaper.    The position may also involve producing and overseeing promotional materials and advertising publications.

A director of marketing may either head or be a member of the senior management team and usually reports to the Executive Director. The position may also involve participating with the Board of Directors.  Directors of marketing generally oversee the marketing, communications and public relations programs within an organization.

Within the organization, the director of marketing primarily works with the Executive Director, the senior management team, the marketing teams, the PR personnel and with service providers.  Outside the organization, this person interacts and coordinates with media.

The accountabilities of the director of marketing include creating, implementing and measuring success of campaigns, enhancing the organization’s image and facilitating communication between departments.    Other duties of the marketing director may include hiring, training and supervising staff members.


While marketing directors can come from a variety of backgrounds, most employers seek candidates with a formal degree.  A bachelor’s degree in marketing, business, journalism or communications is common for this position.  Courses in these fields of study include market research, consumer behavior, sales, communication, technology and visual arts.  A master’s degree in business administration (MBA) is often preferred.

Other educational courses that marketing professionals can benefit from are in accounting, finance, business law, management, mathematics and economics.

Employers often look for extensive experience in marketing, advertising, brand management or sales.  Directors of marketing are often promoted from other marketing or management positions within the same company.

Along with necessary educational degrees, companies will also seek candidates with relevant technical knowledge including knowledge of computer software and applications, as well as knowledge of online or social media marketing.

Important skills of marketing directors include analytic skills, creativity, decision-making skills, interpersonal skills and management skills.


Although not required by most employers, certification in marketing is available from a number of professional societies including the American Marketing Association (AMA) and Sales & Marketing Executives International (SMEI).

Professional Certified Marketer

The AMA is one of the largest marketing associations in the world with over 30,000 members.  The AMA’s Professional Certified marketer (PCM ®) program requires passing a comprehensive exam then maintaining the certification through continued education classes.  To be eligible for the AMA’s PCM certification you must have a bachelor’s degree and 4 years of professional marketing experience or a master’s degree and 2 years professional experience.

Certified Marketing Executive

Sales & Marketing Executives International (SMEI) offers the Certified Marketing Executive (CME) designation. This program is for professionals currently working as a marketing manager, executive manager or marketing educator, or the owner-operator of a business. Accepted applicants receive a 523-page exam prep textbook.

The exam is offered directly through SMEI, and must be taken within 365 days of the date of approval of the application. Renewing the certification requires a minimum of 20 hours of continuing education each year.

Other Certifications

More specialized marketing management certifications are also available, including: * Certified Product Marketing Manager (CPMM) from the Association of International Product Marketing & Management * Certified Financial Marketing Professional (CFMP) from the American Bankers’ Association * Certification in business-to-business marketing from the Business Marketing Institute

There are a number of benefits from becoming certified.  Having certification can set you above competitors in the talent pool; it shows your commitment to the marketing industry including the latest knowledge and practices.  Certification can allow for public recognition of your professional achievements and can indicate high professional standards.

Having certification in marketing helps show commitment toward staying current in the industry.  It also shows mastery in marketing knowledge and practices.  Certifications can give job seekers a competitive edge over others with similar education and experience.  Many marketing executives also attend lectures or seminars in their industry to stay abreast of current trends.


Director of marketing salaries can range greatly depending on several factors.  Number of years in the industry, education level and the size and location of the employer are all factors that will contribute to salary.  Most directors of marketing will work full-time.  According to the BLS in 2010 19% or more marketing managers worked 50 hours or more a week.

According to, the medium salary for a marketing director in the United States is $131, 089

According to the BLS, the top paying states for marketing executives are:

  • New York – Annual Mean Wage:  $163,480
  • New Jersey – Annual Mean Wage:  $146,970
  • Delaware – Annual Mean Wage: $146,610
  • California – Annual Mean Wage: $142,750
  • Virginia – Annual Mean Wage:  $142,100

Occupational Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), strong growth of 14% is expected for marketing managers during the 2010-2020 time period.  The (BLS) reports that employment of marketing managers is expected to steadily rise in the coming years. A great demand for talented marketing managers will occur as companies seek to stand out in a crowded market.  High salaries in this field make for strong competition.

Industries of Employment

According to the BLS, industries with the highest wages for this occupation are as follows:

  • Financial Investments
  • Oil and Gas extraction
  • Apparel, piece goods
  • Securities and commodity
  • Advertising, promotions, sales, education, computer, social media marketing and online marketing

Top Firms and Forbes examination of salary reports indicate that professionals at the following firms earn more than the national average for comparable positions:

  • Cadence Design – Average base salary of $164,000 per year
  • Juniper Networks – Average base salary of $142,558 per year
  • Marvell Technology – Average base salary of $134,500 per year
  • Oracle – Average base salary of $134,129 a year

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