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How to Become a Account Executive

If you’re interested in learning how to become an account executive in 2021, read this guide. It will feature details about account executive job requirements, salary, job outlook, and descriptions of the essential skills. You will also find information about account executive education pathways and certifications to help you advance your career. 

To help you in your career search, we also included top account executive interview questions to prepare you for upcoming job interviews for the position. Read on to learn more about what this career entails and what you need to do to succeed in this field.

What Is an Account Executive?

Account executives are professionals responsible for maintaining relationships with clients in an organization. These sales professionals have the skills to develop relationships with potential customers then convert this interest into sales. Businesses rely on account executives for customer satisfaction, developing sales strategies, and increasing company revenue. 

Account executives work in several industries and sectors, including IT, real estate, and marketing. Their diverse role allows them to interact with sales teams, stakeholders, and multiple personnel in the company. Find out the account executive job description below.

Account Executive Job Description

An account executive is responsible for keeping current clients satisfied and for providing excellent customer service. Another important responsibility on their shoulders is attracting new clients. Your day-to-day tasks in this role would include meeting with clients and discussing how to meet their needs.

In addition, you will work with account planners to create campaigns that stay within the client’s budget and present those campaign ideas to clients. Essentially, you will keep in contact with the client throughout all campaign stages, manage the account’s budget, and invoice the client while making pitches to win new business.

Account Executive Salary and Job Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), account executives are paid an average salary of $141,490 per year. The site states that employment growth for advertising, promotions, and marketing managers is expected to be 10 percent between 2020 and 2030. With over 31,100 job openings, you will have numerous opportunities to land a job in the field.

Top Reasons to Become an Account Executive in 2021

The following list will detail some of the top reasons to become an account executive in 2021, besides their high salaries and promising job outlook. If you enjoy building relationships, helping businesses succeed, and problem-solving, this might be a strong career path for you.  

  • You'll have a chance to meet new people. You’ll meet multiple clients on a regular basis to make negotiations and discuss account management. You’ll know you’re the right person for this job if you enjoy meeting new people and building relationships. 
  • You will build your problem-solving skills. If solving problems comes easily to you, a career as an account executive will fit you well. A salesperson's approach to problem-solving must be customized for each potential client.
  • You'll have a hand in helping businesses succeed. The long-term success of any company requires ensuring their clients have positive experiences. You will often maintain long-term clients and attract more business through your positive relationships with them.
  • You'll gain excellent communication skills. Account executives frequently work with clients and must have clear communication to comprehensively understand a client’s point of view and meet their needs. 

Account Executive Job Requirements

Account executives help businesses gain new customers, make sales, create plans to increase sales, and keep existing clients happy.  Because this position is so important for business development goals, recruiters look for applicants with the necessary skills to meet account executive job requirements. Some of these common requirements are detailed below. 

  • Market Research. As an account executive, it’s your primary responsibility to determine the viability of your company’s products or services. Conducting thorough market research or analysis will help you figure out the target market. You’ll also seek feedback from the consumers regarding the product or service. This, in turn, will help drive sales and increase profits for the company.  
  • Business Acumen. Your ability to solve problems for the company is highly valuable. It is also important to be able to identify the stakeholders’ needs as well as understand your company's financials. Hiring managers need their account executives to have in-depth knowledge in finance, logistics, sales, and accounting. 
  • Knowledge of the Customer Relationship Management system. Since account executives deal with sales, it is important to know how to use the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. The CRM system will help you find out what current and prospective clients want from your company. You should also be comfortable using Microsoft Excel. 

Types of Account Executive Careers

You are not limited to one career path as an account executive. There are a wide variety of related job roles that will become available once you master the required skills and education. Account executives can also move up to marketing directors and account managers after they gain enough experience.  

Marketing Director

Marketing directors are responsible for the company's branding and image. They create the appearance of a company and ensure it is competitive with other companies that sell similar products. For a marketing director position, employers are looking for people with at least a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Marketing and previous experience in sales. 

Account Manager

Account managers manage sales and maintain relationships with individual clients. Your main goals as an account manager are to maintain productive business relationships with existing clients and attract new clients. Doing that will increase profit margins for your company.

Sales Representative

Sales representatives sell company products and services after identifying potential leads. They also educate clients and offer customer support services. The best sales representatives understand how to best use interpersonal skills to provide better customer service. Having strong sales skills will be invaluable to any employer. 

Account Executive Meaning: What Does an Account Executive Do?

Account executives maintain communication between the consumer and their company and are experts in market research and business strategy. The average account executive works in sales, marketing, and advertising industries and manages client acquisition. Below are some general roles and responsibilities of an account executive.

Follow Up with Prospective Customers

After sales representatives verify prospective leads, account executives communicate with those prospective clients by making sales calls via phone or video chat, or during an in-person presentation or meeting.

Develop Solutions for Client Problems

To encourage sales, you could develop customized packages to provide solutions for client issues. You’ll need to use your business knowledge and sales expertise to create solutions for clients while still meeting sales quotas and development goals.

Nurture Relationships

You will prioritize building long-term client relationships. To create connections with clients that help you meet your sales goals, you’ll need to communicate with clients regularly and strive to give them a great experience.

Essential Account Executive Skills

Hiring managers look for several essential account executive skills when recruiting. Account executives play different roles and require plenty of soft skills to carry out their work successfully. Above all else, they need to be excellent communicators with a history of strong client relationships and networks.

Account executives will also need to have a firm grasp of the technical skills required for their job. Among the most important skills for account executives is a strong understanding of the sales process and business development. Below is a list of some essential skills for an account executive.

Knowledge in CRM

As an account executive, you will need to be well versed in Customer Relationship Management. This is a tool used in managing interactions with current and prospective clients in the field and is a great way of increasing productivity.  

Excellent Communication Skills  

In a business, excellent listening and communication skills are the keys to maintaining long-term relationships with clients. Listening is vital to reducing conflict because clients are happier when they feel like they’re being heard. Purposeful listening can help find opportunities and improve every interaction with the client.

Collaboration and Leadership Skills

To be an account executive, you’ll need to be a team player and have strong interpersonal skills. Successful account executives are great at solving problems swiftly and decisively and take responsibility for their actions. You’ll supervise at least one sales team at any given company, and it’s important to set a good example and know how to help others succeed. 

How Long Does It Take to Become an Account Executive?

Typically it will take you four years to become an account executive. This is because most account executives have a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration, Marketing, Communications, or Accounting. 

The more education an account executive has, the more job opportunities will be available. However, you don't have to spend four years on your education. You can choose to attend a two-year degree program or bootcamp and work your way to your dream job that way. This will take you less than four years and will cost much less than a university degree program. 

Can a Coding Bootcamp Help Me Become an Account Executive?

Yes, a bootcamp can help you become an account executive. However, you will want to make sure you choose a bootcamp that offers programs relevant to the sales field, and not one that focuses on coding or computer programming skills. 

Can I Become an Account Executive from Home?

Yes, you can become an account executive from home. There are online degrees offered by many reputable schools that can help you start a career as an account executive. You can also sign up for account executive online courses to cultivate your skills.

How to Become an Account Executive: A Step-by-Step Guide

The best way to become an account executive is by gaining a Bachelor’s Degree in Business, Finance, or a related discipline. However, if this is not an option, you should consider related online courses to help you build your skills. Below is a step-by-step guide to help you launch your career as a successful account executive. 

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

To become an account executive, you can pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration or a related field. This will provide you with solid background knowledge in sales, interpersonal skills, and business acumen. It will also prove your abilities to future employers.

Step 2: Get Work Experience 

Often, you will find beginner account executives applying as volunteers or apprentices. There are also internship opportunities that can help you gain the necessary experience. You can apply for entry-level jobs at this stage to bolster your resume.

Having relevant experience in sales and management will help you stand out when applying for jobs. There are plenty of platforms that offer training in leadership and management. You can also attend conferences, bootcamp programs, or seminars.  

Step 3: Get Certified 

It's not enough that you have the minimum education and work experience required to land a well-paying job as an account executive. To advance in your career, you should consider getting a certification from organizations like the National Association of Sales Professionals, the American Marketing Association (AMA), or the Institute of Management Accountants. 

Best Schools and Education for an Account Executive Career

The best schools and education for account executives are available online and in-person. There are several education avenues that also offer part-time and full-time programs to help you become an account executive. You will find account executives attending sales bootcamps, community colleges, or university programs. Read more about the different education pathways below.

Account Executive Bootcamps

Bootcamps have become popular in recent years because of their fast-paced and immersive curricula designed to equip students with technical skills to help them launch their careers. These programs typically last for a few months. At an account executive bootcamp, you will receive training from industry experts on concepts like data science and visualization. 

Vocational School

Vocational schools are famed for offering post-secondary training to help individuals enter the job market directly. Most of these facilities are nationally accredited. You will receive hands-on training in the necessary skills to land entry-level jobs. You will likely need to advance your education further if you want to land more lucrative positions.

Community College

Community colleges are a great way to start working toward your bachelor’s degree in a much more cost-efficient way than starting at a university right out of high school. The two-year degree programs feature education in sales or business administration, and the credits you earn can be used if you transfer into a four-year program to gain a bachelor’s degree. 

Account Executive Degrees

Education is one of the most important things that you need to consider when choosing to become an account executive. Most account executives have a bachelor's degree, but you’ll also see associate and master's degrees on resumes.

The Most Important Account Executive Certificates

The most important account executive certifications show employers that you have qualities and attributes that make you the ideal person for the job. However, not all certifications are created equal. Below is a list of the best certifications for account executives. Gaining these certifications will help you progress in the field.

Certified Professional Sales Leader (CPSL)

Account executives are known for their ability to maintain close working relationships with clients. They also help companies grow by identifying potential leads and closing sales. You should consider the CPSL certification to learn how to use effective communication channels and create successful sales habits.

Professional Certified Marketer (PCM)

You can become a professional certified marketer by passing this exam covering the vital areas of marketing. Getting this professional certification will showcase to employers that your marketing ability meets the national standards of excellence. 

Certified Management Accountant (CMA)

Certified Management Accountant is an advanced professional certification for account executives and business administrators. It validates accounting and financial management skills that contribute to a strong business performance.

How to Prepare for Your Account Executive Job Interview

To prepare for your account executive job interview, you should first read through the job description. The job description will act as a guide to what the company wants and if you'll be a good fit. To prepare for the interview, you must be well versed with the technical, behavioral, situational, and technical questions. Learn the top interview questions for an account executive below. 

Account Executive Job Interview Practice Questions

  • Can you elaborate on your previous roles, responsibilities, and how success was measured? 
  • What is your proudest accomplishment? 
  • If I was to talk to your previous employer, what would they say about you? How would they describe what you’re doing well and the areas you’re improving? 
  • What areas do you think need improvement in the field, and how will you ensure success for the company? 

Should I Become an Account Executive in 2021?

Yes, you should become an account executive in 2021. Once you gain the necessary skills and job experience, there will be a wide variety of job opportunities available to you. These professionals earn high salaries, and their expertise are in high-demand in a range of fields.


Can You Become an Account Executive Without a Degree?
Yes, you can become an account executive without a degree. Even though most hiring companies require their account executives to have a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration, Marketing, or Public Relations, you can still get an entry-level job without one.
Is It Hard to Become an Account Executive?
No, it's not hard to become an account executive. As long as you’re disciplined and have strong interpersonal skills, you can gain the necessary education and experience to succeed as an account executive.
Is an Account Executive an Accountant?
No, an account executive is not an accountant. Both an account executive and an accountant handle a company’s financials to a degree. However, account executives focus primarily on client relationships. Accountants record and report all company financial transactions, including salaries, purchases, equity, profits, and losses.
What Makes a Good Account Executive?
A good account executive is defined by their ability to make sales and meet organizational goals. People who succeed in this field are known to have excellent relationship management skills and a good sales track record.
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