Making a sales pitch is the easy part. Creating the kind of advertisement that will evoke joy, sorrow, laughter or intrigue takes a special kind of talent.

It is the job of an advertising professional to sell a product or service. But in order to effectively sell the product or service, they first must capture the interest of their target audience.

While there is no magic bullet that guarantees an ad will appeal to the masses, producing something that is different from the run-of-the-mill ads plastered all over billboards and television screens is a good strategy.

Dove’s campaign challenging the pre-conceived notion of what defines beauty – as well as the hilarious “ship my pants” commercials from retailer Kmart – were among the most talked about advertising campaigns in 2013. Not only did the ads showcase a product, but they kept consumers talking about the makers of those products long after the commercials stopped airing.

Education Requirements

There is a certain creative spark that is necessary when working in this kind of industry. While creativity isn’t the sort of quality that can be taught, there are certain techniques used in the advertising industry that reputable advertising schools will include as part of their programs.

Associate degree programs in advertising are available both online and in traditional settings, and take roughly two years to complete. Candidates who earn an associate degree in advertising will be eligible to work in entry-level positions within the industry.

Undergraduate degrees – also known as bachelor’s degrees – are the preferred level of education for careers in advertising among employers. Relevant courses include consumer behavior, marketing, communication methods, technology, visual arts, sales, market research, photography and art history.

Master’s degrees in advertising provide an in-depth examination of the importance of communication in contemporary society. Coursework also includes the development process of a successful advertising campaign, as well as the kind of intensive research skills needed to develop a campaign.

Doctorate level degrees in advertising usually are reserved for those who wish to work in a research-related career, or who plan to teach at a college or university level.

Regardless of the degree being pursued, students should select only programs which have received accreditation in order to be guaranteed the programs are of the utmost quality.

Future Outlook

Demand for advertising and promotions professionals is expected to grow by only 7 percent over the next decade, according to data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The rate of growth is slower than the averages for all other occupations being tracked by the bureau for the same time period. Marketing managers fared slightly better, at 13 percent, which is average compared with other business and industry.

The average annual salary for advertising professionals as of May 2012 was $88,590. The top 10 percent of wage earners in the industry earned six-figure salaries, at $187,200.

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