Account managers are sometimes referred to as account executives or advertising managers. While account manager careers are most often found in advertising agencies, many marketing firms and public relations companies employ professionals in this role. Acting as liaison between clients and agency departments, account managers also manage ad or promotion execution according to the client’s schedule and budget. They are responsible for maintaining relationships with current advertising accounts, as well as developing new clients for their employers.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for advertising account managers is projected to remain steady in the coming years, while marketing and public relations manager employment is expected to increase. Job growth will occur as more companies seek ways to differentiate their products through advertising, marketing and public relations in an increasingly crowded market. Competition for the most desirable account manager careers can be tough; job seekers with advanced education should have an advantage.
Account managers work with both the clients and the creative departments of agencies to meet the clients’ advertising, marketing or public relations goals. They direct campaigns, prepare budgets and production estimates, and maintain relationships with clients.
An account manager’s career is usually spent working in an office. Travel is often required to meet with clients, oversee ad production or attend events. Stress can be part of the job and long hours are common – especially when marketing deadlines must be met. There is often pressure associated with account manager positions.
Salaries vary for account manager jobs depending on skills, company size and the industry involved. The BLS reports the median salary for advertising managers was $82,370 in May 2009, ranging from a low of around $40,990 to a high in excess of $165,000 per year. However, these figures also include earnings for senior-level advertising managers, rather than those serving strictly in an account management role. National salary data on PayScale.com indicated that account manager salaries ranged between $38,129 and $59,568 in July 2010.
While account manager jobs often require at least a bachelor’s degree, associate’s degree holders may start out in other agency roles and work their way up. Those who are able to find work as an account manager will typically start in the lower salary range, but can attain higher earnings with further education and experience.
Professionals in the industry come from a variety of academic backgrounds, but many employers prefer a specialized advertising or marketing education. Most management positions are filled through promotions of experienced staff who are already employed with the company or agency. Employers often prefer to hire candidates with a bachelor’s degree or even a master’s degree in business administration with a specialization in marketing. However, an associate’s degree can help graduates land an internship or entry-level role that they can parlay into positions of increasing responsibility and visibility.
The first step to an account manager career can begin with an associate’s degree in marketing. Coursework typically includes statistics, accounting, writing, economics, social science and a variety of marketing topics.
A marketing education prepares graduates to:
Many firms offer opportunities for continuing education. It’s possible to gain an entry-level job with an associate’s degree and use an employer’s tuition assistance program to pay for a bachelor’s degree.
If working on advertising and marketing campaigns appeals to you, and you’re a detail-oriented, responsible communicator who can think independently and use good judgment, then a career as an account manager might be a perfect fit.