How to advance your career through education

As a relatively recent discipline that’s emerged, digital marketing might seem like the kind of field where the only true teacher is experience.

While experience certainly is one of the best ways to find out what works and what doesn’t, it can be hard to learn those real world lessons if no one’s willing to give you a chance to learn.

Traditionally, that’s what a degree program is for, but for a field that’s as fresh and fast to evolve as digital marketing, can there really be university courses that are up on the latest trends?

You might be surprised; the most relevant degree programs out there can teach you everything from the basic tenets of the field to the latest in digital and social media marketing.

For those trying to kick start their career, or transition to a related business career, there are few options as powerful as a well-tailored degree.

Education can start your career right

Business degree programs have a wide variety of specialization options, available as both bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

A Bachelor’s Degree

If you’re just getting started in your career, or have yet to enter the field, a bachelor’s degree in business with a focus in marketing can certainly start you off on the right foot. Such programs teach the fundamentals of marketing, how to analyze market data, and consumer behavior. These basics have to be learned some time, of course, but they aren’t the main focus of most modern business degree programs today.

Instead, many top business schools have begun to ensure that students can start building a portfolio and simulating those valuable real world experiences even before they graduate. Take the University of Michigan for example, rated as the #1 school for marketing by US News and World Report. The Ross School of Business at University of Michigan structures its program around what they call “signature learning experiences,” which provides a theme that will run through all courses taken that semester, culminating in an exercise where those principles are put to work in the form of a project.

This not only gives students a chance to actually use what they’re learning, but also provides evidence of work that can be put on a resume after graduation. And that’s all in addition to internship and practicum options, both locally and abroad, that can act as a foot in the door for entering the industry.

Reinvigorate your career with new skills

If you’re already progressing through your career, however, a bachelor’s degree won’t be enough to give you the boost you need to reach the next level, and you may already have one.

What are your other options?

A Master’s of Business Administration

A Master’s of Business Administration or MBA is one of the strongest choices available to help you advance. As a degree, it holds near universal respect, particularly when compared to the often confusing world of certifications.

An analysis of the data collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics concluded that for marketing managers, marketing specialists and market research analysts, an MBA provides a wage premium of 38 percent, meaning that workers who held a master’s in those positions were paid on average 38 percent more than their coworkers without a master’s.

While it takes some time to earn, there can be no doubt that an MBA will pay for itself.

MBA programs offer even more specialties than undergraduate business programs do, often to the extent that it can be hard to find two business schools with the same list of options.

An MBA in Digital Marketing

MBA programs in digital marketing are often taught by professors who perform research on online marketing techniques and developments in social media, so keeping up with the latest trends is a key part of their job. Courses focus on subjects like analytics on “big data,” running integrated marketing campaigns, and cutting edge areas like cryptocurrencies, blockchains, and artificial intelligence (AI).

Expanding your knowledge into these still developing technologies can give you just the advantage you need when competing for top positions at major companies, or provide clients with the confidence that you’re staying educated and offering them the best strategies you can.

But furthering your education in marketing isn’t the only option for getting ahead.

An MBA in Leadership or Management

An MBA in leadership or management can help you to acquire the skills to take on leadership positions within your company. Whether it’s heading teams to tackle particular campaigns or stepping up to guide the entire marketing department, a leader needs to be able to set goals, delegate responsibilities effectively, and handle problems as they arise.

MBA programs focusing on management will teach you all of this as well as other crucial information, such as group psychology, how to create teams, and how to facilitate camaraderie among your team members. You can start putting these sorts of skills to use in the workplace almost immediately, and having the documented experience of learning can help to prove that your leadership potential is very real.

An Executive MBA

You can even take this a step further with Executive MBAs, sometimes shortened to EMBA, which are specially designed programs for corporate executives and managers. EMBA programs focus on the skills needed to succeed in the upper echelons of the corporate world, typically on a schedule that’s a convenient fit for those who are already working. With brief but intense class sessions held predominately on weekends, most EMBA programs can be finished in a year and a half, faster than a typical full-time MBA without sacrificing your existing progress climbing the corporate ladder. As such, most EMBA candidates are generally fairly far along in their careers.

EMBA students at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, for example, typically had 12 years of work experience behind them, compared to the traditional MBA program’s average of 4 years. For the ambitious executive who’s still not quite where they want to be, an EMBA could provide just what’s needed to start climbing again.

Education is the key to career success

Education has never been in doubt as a key ingredient for success, but it can sometimes be hard to know what the right amount of schooling is. Fortunately, business schools are well aware of the need to gain experience before returning to the classroom to hone the skills they now know they require in the real world.

A bachelor’s in business offers all the tools to begin a career, no matter the particular discipline. Master’s programs present the opportunity to acquire advanced knowledge and specific skills in a variety of topics, and on schedules that are compatible with careers, allowing you to continue working uninterrupted. The versatility of an MBA and the flexibility of most MBA programs combine to make this degree one of the most powerful tools for getting ahead in any field.

This guest blog article was written by Carlyle Edmundson, a writer for Study.com, a company that aims to deliver a better way to learn — one that lets you learn what you want and the way you want.

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