There are certain areas in the working world where a degree is necessary to get on the ladder.

Sometimes it’s to begin working in a specialist field, but other times it’s to obtain a broad set of transferable skills that will help you in a variety of areas. However, when it comes to obtaining a job in content marketing, a specialised degree is not essential. In fact, you may even find that studying for a degree will only put you behind other people trying to break into the industry through internships and apprenticeships.

The advantages of a marketing degree

That’s not to be said there aren’t any benefits to having a degree in marketing. In fact, a degree in this discipline will immediately display a high level of commitment to the field to a prospective employer. After all, a three-year degree is not an easy task, and requires a great deal of study before you get over the finish line.

However, there are other degrees that can be just as helpful towards securing a job in the industry, depending on the career you want. For example, a degree in English Literature or Creative Writing will mean you have the perfect skills to become a content marketer. Our Head of Content, Brett Janes, says his Master’s degree in English Literature and Creative Writing was ‘an essential lesson in the art of storytelling’, a crucial skill for successful content marketing.

With a degree, you may find it easier or more straightforward to get a job in digital marketing. You’ll have picked up some skills essential to digital marketing along the way, as well as having highly specific abilities that can only come about after years of experience.

Working in marketing without a degree

Whether it’s because you don’t like the idea of university or changed your mind about your future career a little later in life, the thought of finding your way into any role without a degree can be a little daunting.

If this is you, don’t panic. When hiring for digital marketing roles, employers are always going to focus on your skills and experience first. As long as you’ve taken steps to gain the relevant experience, there’s no reason why you should find it particularly difficult to get your foot in this sector’s door.

Skills you must have

Whatever your career in digital marketing, there are a few skills that are indispensable to every role. Good communication skills are non-negotiable as client contact will be an inevitable part of your job. Next comes an awareness and understanding of consumer behaviour and buyer psychology. As well as this, the ability to write well and understand the working of social media platforms – such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn – are other skills that are transferable to all the roles within content marketing.

More technical skills include analytical abilities, knowledge of web design, understanding of CMS platforms and sales skills. Your knowledge of these will depend on the role you wish to go into, but it is important you have experience in the relevant areas. A portfolio of work you’ve undertaken is crucial to display your skills, and making a statement with your CV – such as this one – can’t hurt when you’re applying for a creative job!

Our list of essential skills:

  • A wealth of experience, either educational or hands-on
  • Fantastic communication skills
  • Ability to communicate effectively with clients and team members
  • Able to work well independently and in a team
  • Knowledge and understanding of consumer behaviour and buyer psychology
  • A strong writing ability as well as an understanding of popular social media platforms
  • Knowledge of web design and CMS platforms
  • Analytical abilities
  • A creative mindset
  • An interest in working hard, including on your own time to produce a portfolio of work relevant to the role you wish to get into.

How our team got into digital marketing

There are plenty of graduates on our team, but skipping the traditional university route doesn’t mean you can’t get into the industry on hard graft alone. Courtney Hobbs, our lead designer, told us:

While I was still working full-time I was freelancing at night-time, building up my portfolio.

“The only two things I was good at in school were art and English. I ended up in an apprenticeship in something else but I was still interested in art, so I started trying different things. I bought a book that was about Adobe and I read it from cover to cover as well as another book about Photoshop. I just read everything I could when I was sat in the van on my way to my job at the time, and then I’d test it out on the laptop. I started doing different bits for a mate of mine who worked for an agency and then I got quite interested in it.

While I was still working full-time I was freelancing at night-time, building up my portfolio. I ended up working for different agencies and that was it! I’ve been working in design for eight years. The key is looking for inspiration and studying what the designer will have done to get to the result. I just constantly want to learn.”

How you can get into content marketing

When it comes to breaking into content marketing, getting relevant experience needs to be the first thing you do. If you can land an internship or some work experience, paid or unpaid, then don’t pass up the opportunity.

Michael Robinson started at Inside Online as an apprentice. He says:

The apprenticeship helped me to begin my career in digital marketing

“My learning style wasn’t suited to university so by doing the apprenticeship I was able to find a better alternative that fitted me and the way I learn. The apprenticeship helped me to begin my career in digital marketing and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who doesn’t feel that university is the best choice for them.”

If this is proving difficult, then try to gain some experience in something related to the skills required. For example, work experience at a local newspaper will undoubtedly improve your writing skills, while helping a friend with the design of their website will prove to be indispensable.

Having your own blog or getting published in a magazine, whether online or print, will help massively. Whatever role you wish to occupy in the content marketing world, finding ways to practice and better your skills in that area is an invaluable thing to do.

Stay ahead of the curve

As well as practising the skills you’ll need to have, it’s worth building up your knowledge of the industry and of the people in it. Joe Pulizzi is one of, if not the most, well-known people in content marketing. As well as being the founder of the Content Marketing Institute, he is also the author of Killing Marketing and Content Inc., an overview of what it takes to make amazing content.

Attending industry events, staying up to date with any developments that affect the way digital marketing operates and building contacts are sure-fire ways to make sure you’re the ideal candidate for your preferred role. Knowing the big names will also be invaluable. Basically, learn anything and everything about the industry and soon any worries about not having a degree in marketing will be far behind you.

Working in marketing is about proving your worth in the industry and usually, the best way to do this is to gain experience.

Want to find out how other members of our team landed the roles they’re in now? Get in touch.