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:
- Social media
- CRM (Customer Relationship Management)
- PPC (Pay-per-click)
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
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:
- Annual membership in the certifying organization.
- Courses required to take the certification exam.
- Certification exam.
- Recertification including any additional testing expenses, any required continuing education credits, or any necessary volunteer work.
- Any travel to classes, volunteer work, and examination sites.
- 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 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 Lynda.com 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.
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
Learn how to make the most of Google AdWords with the Google Adwords Professional Certificate.
Resources: Google AdWords Certified Professional Certificate, Sign up for Google Partners required, AdWords Fundamentals Study Guide, AdWords Search Advertising Study Guide, AdWords Display Advertising Study Guide, AdWords Mobile Advertising Study Guide, AdWords Video Advertising, AdWords Shopping Advertising
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.
- Digital Marketing - University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
- Digital Analytics for Marketing Professionals: Marketing Analytics in Practice - University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign
- Data Science - Johns Hopkins University
- Social Media Marketing - Northwestern University
- Inform Decision Making with Marketing Analytics - Emory University
- Introduction to Marketing - Wharton School of Business
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.
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 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.
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.
Southern New Hampshire University
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.
Date & Marketing Association Certificate Courses
Member - $479
Non-member - $799
Member - $479
Non-member - $799
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
Explore several of their marketing certificate programs.
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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