Can Marketing Certifications Maximize Your Career?

By Joe Weller | March 10, 2017 (updated November 12, 2021)

Marketing is one the top 10 high-paying jobs that doesn’t require grad school. But adding to your professional knowledge can still be critical to a successful career. Taking marketing classes that lead to certification in marketing is one way to keep abreast of the inevitable changes to marketing techniques brought on by innovations in technology.

Christopher Bartone, Director of Digital Content at American Marketing Association (AMA) says, “We encourage marketers to continually educate themselves so they can stay informed about new trends and techniques in our profession.”

To help their constituents, the AMA and other marketing membership organizations such as the Data & Marketing Association (DMA) provide a ‘branded’ educational experience that lead to certification in the subject or a certificate (in the case of a single or small series of classes). For-profit companies such as Digital Marketer and Online Marketing Institute also provide certification or certificate courses in marketing, as do software developers such as Hubspot, Google, Facebook, and others. Academic organizations (such as universities) - both brick-and-mortar and online - also teach both certification and certificate courses, often as a stepping stone to either Bachelor or Master degrees.

This article helps define the difference between courses that lead to certification and those that result in a certificate. It also tells you how and where to find courses that would help you accomplish either goal.

What Is Marketing?

According to the American Marketing Association, "Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large."

Within this broad definition, there are many unique marketing styles and techniques, including:

  • Community
  • Digital
  • Social media
  • Mobile
  • CRM (Customer Relationship Management)
  • PPC (Pay-per-click)
  • Alerts
  • Permissions
  • Visual

What you need to know about marketing depends on the level of your job, the type of company you work for, and the identity of your customers. Over the course of your career, there may be opportunities to switch specialties, especially since the job market looks favorable for marketing professionals.

Statistics for Marketing Jobs

  • Median pay for marketers: $124,850 (2015)
  • Annual growth rate for marketing positions: 9% (up from 7% for all other occupations)

    The United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labot Statistics (BLS)

Certification Versus Certificates

Just because ‘certification’ and ‘certificate’ share the same root word, they don’t mean the same thing - nor do they necessarily have the same impact on your career.

Here are the basic differences:


Please note: There may be exceptions to these points.

How to Decide Whether to Get a Marketing Certification or a Certificate

You don’t have to limit yourself to becoming either a certified marketer or taking courses that present a certificate upon completion - you can do either, or both! You can even take a single course now and then, simply because it interests you or helps you with your work at hand.

When considering a certification program from a specific school or company, ask yourself or others the following questions:

What is your motivation for getting certified?

If becoming a certified marketer is one of your career goals, or if you think being certified will help you attain your career goals, go for it. But there’s no guarantee that your career will automatically advance with a marketing certification.

Certifications can demonstrate that:

  • You have mastered a certain subject matter to others - information that could be valuable to your boss or potential employers.
  • You have a passion for learning and are committed to your career.

When done on a marketing department-wide basis, certification courses can also establish a common understanding of marketing concepts within a team, according to Jerusha Harvey, Vice President of Education and Professional Development at the Data & Marketing Association (DMA).


“We have entire marketing departments at leading companies take our certification courses to level-set shared knowledge internally,” she says. Businesses such as American Express, TD Ameritrade, IBM, Symantec, DISH Network, Charles Schwab, and The Gap utilize DMA training materials. 

What is the reputation of the organization teaching the class or course?

If you’re looking at a membership association, such as AMA or DMA, ask your co-workers or your employer what professional organizations they respect or have joined. Also, take a look at their membership size, how long they have been in existence, and board members. Looking at a membership list can often tell you whether they a respected organization.

If you’re looking at certification or certificate courses at a for-profit company, be sure to check out their reputation with the Better Business Bureau and search online for both positive and negative student reviews. For Academic organizations, reputation is usually a matter of record.

Who teaches their certification and certificate courses?

Generally speaking, the more professional experience a teacher has, the greater chance they will have vital knowledge to pass on. The best way to judge a teacher’s skill is to talk to him or her before signing up for the course. If that’s not possible, check out LinkedIn for endorsements or ask the association, educational company, or university for recommendations from past students.

How convenient and accessible are the certification courses for you?

In the comprehensive list of marketing certification courses listed below, notice that classes occur in a variety of forms, including:

  • Online, on-demand
  • Online, scheduled
  • Online, single instructor (Virtual classroom)
  • In-person boot camp

Be sure to consider the kind of education situation before committing to one type of course over another.

While none of the certification courses below require you to travel to an independent testing facility to take the certification exam, please be aware that this may be a possibility for certification courses not listed here.

How much does certification cost?

When considering your goal to become certified, consider the following costs:

  1. Annual membership in the certifying organization.
  2. Courses required to take the certification exam.
  3. Certification exam.
  4. Recertification including any additional testing expenses, any required continuing education credits, or any necessary volunteer work.
  5. Any travel to classes, volunteer work, and examination sites.
  6. Time away from your job and family. While it is an opportunity cost, assign it a monetary value. (Estimated # of hours away from work x hourly salary)

American Marketing Association Certifications

The American Marketing Association reaches over 1.3 million marketers globally, and considers itself the largest marketing association in the world.


“The goal of our certification process is to give marketers the tools and knowledge they can apply in the everyday workplace to advance their careers,” says Christopher Bartone, Director of Digital Content.

The AMA presents two professional certification courses (see below). “We don’t require any courses to take the certification exam. We are solely responsible for designing and administering the certification examination. However, if people would like to brush-up or gain new knowledge to help them pass our rigorous exam, we have partnered with to provide recommended courses.”



The AMA also teaches certificate programs. See below in the Certificate section.

Data & Marketing Association Certification and Certificates

The Data & Marketing Association has been in existence for 100 years and keeps re-inventing itself to keep up with the times. “We have developed both our DMA Certified Marketing Professional course and our Marketing Analytics Certificate course by surveying our membership to see where their pain points are individually and organizationally,” says Jerusha Harvey, Vice President of Education and Professional Development at the DMA.


In 2016 alone, nearly 500 people in more than 80 companies participated in both the DMA’s certification and certificate programs.  


Hubspot Academy Marketing Certifications

This global seller of inbound marketing, CRM, and sales software believes that people don’t want to be ‘sold to,’ they want to be helped. In that spirit, Hubspot Academy provides high-quality certification courses for free.


Digital Marketer Certification Process

Digital Marketer describes itself as a premier online community for digital marketing professionals. Two components comprise their certification process. The course itself (one price) and the certification exam (an equal price). You can take the course and are not required to take the certification exam (an equal price). You can take the course and are not required to take the certification exam. Applicable courses include: Ecommerce Marketing Certification, Paid Traffic Certification, Conversion Funnel Certification, Content Marketing Certification, Certified Optimization & Testing Mastery Specialist, Certified Social & Community Mastery Specialist, Certified Search Marketing Specialist, Email Marketing Certification, and Analytics & Data Certification.


Google AdWords Certificate

Facebook Blueprint Marketing Certification

Stay on top of the latest from Facebook. Get certified for Facebook advertising buying and planning with Facebook Blueprint. Demonstrate your knowledge with the proctored online certification exam.


Resources: Facebook Advertising Core Competencies

Bonus Marketing Certification Courses

Below are some additional certification courses. Check them out online and call the admissions counselor to get further information.

Coursera marketing certification courses
Coursera gives you universal access to online certificate courses at leading universities and other educational organizations. Taught by field experts in a variety of learning situations, these courses cost from $29 to $99 to take.

For all Coursera Marketing Certification Programs, check out their course catalog.


Udemy is an online learning center with a library for 45,000 courses, taught by instructors from around the world. Explore Udemy marketing courses, which may or may not be certification or certificate courses.


Discover Cornell's marketing certification programs.

Colorado Free University

Colorado Free University has two certification courses, one in Digital Marketing and the other in Social Media Training. You must complete a practicum for certification.

Code Academy

Code Academy provides HTML and CSS certification classes.

Marketing Certification Programs

Online Marketing Institute (OMI)

OMI has a full range of marketing certifications at two levels. Courses range from 10 to 30 hours and cost between $899 and $1,499.

Georgetown University

Social Media Management Certification requires a bachelor’s degree or equivalent and one year of work experience in relevant marketing positions. The cost of the program is $4,165.

University of California Irvine

Social Media Specialized Studies Award requires 90 hours of instruction and costs $2,590.

Pepperdine University: Social Media Professional Certification

Completing two courses at the cost of $2,000 (total) is required for certification.

Hootsuite and Newhouse

Advanced Social Media Strategy Certification requires 15 courses over three months and costs $2,200.

Hootsuite and Mayo Clinic

The Social Media Basics for Healthcare Certification costs $400.

UCLA Extension

Marketing Certificate with Concentration in Social Media

Southern New Hampshire University

Social Media Graduate Certification


Social Media Marketing

Benedictine University

Marketing Certificate

General Assembly

For a variety of marketing courses which may or may not have certificates or certifications, check out General Assembly. Many classes are taught in-person, while other are available online.

Certificate Programs

Certificate programs abound. Usually, certificate programs are of shorter duration, cost less, don’t require an examination, and are given on a one time only basis, with no renewal requirement.


Demonstrate your proficiency in Google Analytics with the Google Analytics Individual Qualification (IQ). Easy-to-use and powerful, it’s a basic tool for many marketing jobs.


Google resources: Digital Analytics Fundamentals, Google Analytics Platform Principle

Data & Marketing Association Certificate Courses


Date & Marketing Association Certificate Courses


Marketing Analytics




8-9 hours

Member - $479


Non-member - $799


Content Marketing Certificate



8-9 hours

Member - $479


Non-member - $799

Resources: Marketing Analytics Certificate, Content Marketing Certificate

University of Phoenix


Like many academic organizations, the University of Phoenix provides a variety of learning options for its students. According to Academic Dean Kevin Wilhelmsen, Ph.D., of the School of Business, “We design all of our programs with the working adult in mind. Our programs must be career relevant, and be available in multiple modalities, whether online, or at one of our campus locations across the country.”

Since University of Phoenix students tend to be older (the average age is 35) with at least five years work experience, the school provides a variety of ‘stackable’ certificate courses that eventually can add up to a degree, if that is the student’s goal.

Visit the University of Phoenix website to learn more about the certificate courses in marketing online or in your area.

Other Marketing Certificate Courses

Below are examples of certificate courses or classes. Many of them offer both in-person and online options. For the most up-to-date information, contact the organizations directly.

University of Southern California Berkeley Extension

Certificate Program in Marketing  


Explore several of their marketing certificate programs.


Marketing & Communications certificates

According to Jerusha Harvey of DMA, “For marketing professionals, there is no one body that can certify knowledge.” There is also no independent organization that ranks those associations, businesses or academic schools that provide certifications and certificates for marketers.

So, can a marketing certification maximize your career? Ultimately, only you can decide whether your effort in demonstrating your marketing mastery, learning more about subjects that engage you, forging additional professional connections, and adding qualifications to your resume is worth your time and money.

However, the more you know, the more valuable you may be to your team and your employer. The more you may enjoy your job, too.

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