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How to Become a Digital Marketer

Looking around for your favorite items, shopping, and engaging with advertisements can now be done with a simple click on the phone. This has created an opportunity for advertisers to reach their audience in new and faster ways. 

Given this, there has been a renewed urgency to promote products and services through social media platforms, apps, and websites. To work as a professional in this growing field, this article will share how to become a digital marketer.

In this guide, you’ll find everything you need to know about whether a digital marketer career path is right for you. You’ll also find additional assets, digital marketing salaries, and training programs to help you get started on your journey to becoming a digital marketer. Read on to learn about launching a career in digital marketing.   

What Is Digital Marketing?

Digital marketing is a type of marketing strategy that uses online-based technologies and digital channels to promote a company's products and services.

Types of Digital Marketing Strategies

Digital marketing professionals use many strategies and digital marketing tools to create a brand’s story and connect with customers. The goal is to raise awareness and build bonds with potential customers. Below are some of the most common types of digital marketing strategies.

Email Marketing

Emails are the lifeblood of communication, and a well-crafted message to your customers can be like gold. If you want your company to succeed and land the fat contracts, you’ll need to make sure that you have a dynamic and enthusiastic email marketing campaign.

Emails are an excellent tool for digital marketing because they allow companies to keep customers informed. Email marketing content is used to inform customers of new promotions and company news.

If you want your email campaign to succeed, you’ll want to target existing customers rather than the leads you purchased. Existing customers are already informed and appreciate your products, and your campaign is much more likely to land with them. You can use email to notify your customers of changes to your company, new products they might like, or to promote loyalty.

Social Media Marketing

Because you’re living in 2022, you’re already aware of how vital social media is to business. Companies with a strong social media presence are the ones who get attention from customers. It’s therefore incumbent on any company that wants to succeed to step up its social media engagement. For start-up tech businesses social media marketing isn’t an option; it’s a must.

Social media marketing has become a vital strategy. Creating content to post on Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, and other social media pages can strengthen the bond between customers and companies. Social media is a great way to share images, videos, written content, and paid advertising while increasing brand awareness and customer interaction.

A good social media strategy combines key customer information with a breezy tone that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s tough to nail, but the businesses that get the formula right have an edge over other companies and a line to a younger and more affluent demographic. Lots of unlikely companies have mastered social media marketing.

Search Engine Marketing Approaches

Your tech skills can get your business started but your site will have to show up in your customers’ searches if you want to succeed. Much of modern digital marketing involves understanding how to snag the search engines’ attention and land a coveted spot at the top of a keyword search. If you can do this right, you will improve your chances of being seen and your business will be competitive.

  1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) ⁠SEO is one of the most common forms of digital marketing today. It’s a complicated strategy that often seems as much an art as a science, and it can make or break your company’s digital presence. SEO is the primary means of targeting customers through their searches. It includes specific words and phrases in your website’s text so that folks who search for those phrases get linked to your page. Good SEO uses keywords in web articles that search engines like Google catch and report. When you have a well-crafted SEO strategy, the results are invisible but ensure that your product pages land at the top of the search list.

  2. Search Engine Marketing (SEM) ⁠This is the other prong of a search engine strategy. SEM covers the paid results that you see at the top of any search. It’s how Google and other search engines make their money, and it’s a great way to get your business noticed.

  3. Google Analytics: ⁠This is an essential part of digital marketing and SEO practices. You can use this tool to assess your website’s SEO performance and find out what needs to be done to improve your ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs) so that you are more visible.

Online Advertising

Online advertising can come in many forms, including video, image, and text ads. These can show up on search engine results as Google Ads or as ads on websites.

Digital Marketing Career Paths

Digital marketing is a broad field. There are many specializations for you to choose from when embarking on your digital marketer career path. Here are a few of the most popular jobs in the field.

SEO Manager

SEO managers increase the visibility of a company’s campaigns and other content. With their help, a company website’s ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs) like Google is optimized. An improved ranking will lead to increased traffic without having to spend any money.

Social Media Manager

Social media managers manage an organization’s social media presence. They create a content schedule that determines when a company posts on social media. A part of their duties is working with the rest of the organization to determine what content should be posted on which social network.

Content Marketing Specialists

Content marketing specialists figure out how an organization can deliver its content effectively. They come up with editorial calendars and content strategies that showcase a company’s products and services. These specialists work with SEO managers and the rest of the digital marketing team to create a broader content strategy.

What Does a Digital Marketer Do?

A digital marketer creates content strategies and executes those strategies to help an organization generate leads and raise awareness for its brand. They use a variety of channels such as email, social media, and web advertisements to reach their audience. They keep a company’s online presence up-to-date and coordinate new content for publishing.

A part of a digital marketer’s job description is to collaborate with management, design, and development teams to craft campaigns. These are meant to meet the needs of an organization and showcase new products or announcements.

Digital marketer skills include knowing how to use Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to track the performance of their campaigns. For example, a digital marketer may track the number of impressions and likes on tweets or the open and read rate for their email marketing campaigns.

Digital Marketing Skills

Professionals who work as digital marketers have well-developed skills that pertain to the technical aspects of their work, but also have intensely honed soft skills. These soft skills allow them to contribute to the marketing team and also be able to communicate effectively with executive leadership. Below is a list of both the important technical skills needed for a digital marketing career path and the soft skills needed to become a digital marketer.  

Essential Technical Skills for Digital Marketers

The following technical skills will come up in almost every digital marketing job, no matter what specialization you choose. These skills include technologies, processes, and other marketing tools.

  1. Social Media Marketing. ⁠Social media marketing focuses on promoting an organization and brand through social media channels. In doing so, you can raise awareness for your content. This, in turn, generates leads who may become customers in the future. Social media marketing involves using digital platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook to advertise a business’ content, product, or services.

  2. Automation. ⁠You should be aware of any tools that automate repetitive tasks and streamline marketing operations. For example, if you’re an email marketer, you may want to automate sending customer satisfaction surveys to customers after a certain number of days.

  3. Inbound Marketing. ⁠Inbound marketing is a type of marketing where the focus is on attracting customers by creating valuable content and experiences. It involves the use of digital marketing tools to help create a seamless customer experience. Inbound marketing can only really be understood in contrast with outbound marketing (also known as interruption marketing), where the emphasis is on advertising, promotions, public relations, and sales.

  4. Public Relations (PR). ⁠PR has been a major part of content strategies for decades. But digital marketers need to be aware of online PR. Online PR is the online coverage on digital blogs, publications, and other websites.

Essential Soft Skills for Digital Marketers

To be a successful digital marketer, you’ll need to know more than just technical skills. You should have a set of “soft” skills as well. The top soft skills you need are as follows:

  1. Analytical and Problem Solving Skills. ⁠As a digital marketer, you’ll need to be able to think through problems analytically and come up with effective solutions. For example, you may be given a limited content budget with the task of allocating the funds. In this case, you must be able to understand the problem, gather data, and use that data to make an informed decision.

  2. Adaptability. ⁠The marketing industry is changing quickly. Twenty years ago, social media marketing didn’t exist. Now, it’s imperative that you stay ahead of the latest trends in digital marketing and use what you find to inform your content strategies.

  3. Communication. ⁠As a digital marketer, communication is key. You should be able to connect with your target audience and determine their wants and needs. Then you have to deliver your message effectively to them in such a way that they understand.

Required Education for Digital Marketers

The digital marketing education requirements depend on the career path you desire. For some positions, such as digital marketing specialist, a bootcamp or self-directed learning might be all that it takes to land this entry-level position. 

For professionals who dream of working as digital marketing managers, whether beginning their journey into the profession or already working in the field, having a college education is typically required. 

Below you’ll find the various options for gaining the required knowledge and skills to work in the field. Whether it’s completing a course, a bootcamp, or studying for a graduate degree in marketing, everything you need to know is below. 

Digital Marketing Coding Bootcamps

digital marketing bootcamp is an intensive program designed to make students job-ready upon completion. These programs focus on only the necessary skills and don’t require elective courses the way a college education would. Bootcamps are taught by industry experts who will provide many opportunities for hands-on learning and are typically cheaper than a college degree.

College Education for Digital Marketers

Earning a college degree for digital marketing jobs will ensure you receive the right education to work as a digital marketer and be able to grow professionally in the field. At the college level, students can choose to study for an associate degree for two years, a bachelor’s degree for four years, or a master’s degree over two years if they’ve already completed an undergraduate degree. 

An Associate Degree in Digital Marketing provides the fundamental knowledge and skills to get you job ready after graduating. It can also allow you to jump into a Bachelor’s Degree in Digital Marketing through transfer programs. These programs depend on the college so if this is the path you choose, be sure to research your options.

For professionals with undergraduate degrees or extensive work experience, studying for a Master’s in Digital Marketing can allow them to advance into managerial positions. Having a master’s degree can solidify you as an expert in the field and improve your job prospects and salary potential. 

Digital Marketing Self-Directed Learning

If you are already working in the marketing or communications field, taking a self-directed learning course would be a great way to pivot into the digital marketing field. Self-directed learning courses teach students the fundamentals as well as more advanced topics in a flexible manner. 

Students can choose when they want to study and how much time they can devote to it per week. They can be as thorough as they like, as the learning process is completely under their control.

This option is ideal for someone who is currently working or has other personal commitments that take up their time. Also, in this type of learning, there tend to be many cost-friendly options, including courses that are completely free. 

For example, Coursera is an online learning platform that provides courses from colleges and universities around the world. At the time of writing, Coursera offered 434 online courses related to digital marketing, most of which are free.

How to Become a Digital Marketer: Step-by-Step

To become a digital marketer, you need to develop a comprehensive and deep understanding of the field. It means developing a long list of skills, such as SEO, SEM, video editing, social media marketing, advertising, and image editing. It's hard work and will require a lot of discipline and patience. 

The good news is, with almost every aspect of our lives intertwined with the Internet, becoming a digital marketer is something that is now increasingly easy to learn. This means there no longer is a shortage of paths you can take to master this craft.

Step 1: Choose a learning path

In the past, pursuing a four-year Bachelor's Degree in Business Management or Marketing was the most popular path toward becoming a digital marketer. However, these programs do not offer a digital marketing education specifically. Rather, they teach digital marketing as part of a broader course.

There is another common option available to people who want to become a digital marketer, and that is through studying at a bootcamp. Digital marketing bootcamps offer a great alternative for people who want to avoid spending years earning a degree. These short-term, intensive programs will train you in the skills you need to find a job and thrive in digital marketing. There are even some free digital marketing bootcamps.

Lastly, don't discount online courses. These may come for free or with an additional fee for certification. Needless to say, online courses allow you to learn digital marketing in the comfort of your home.

Step 2: Obtain an education

If you’ve chosen to earn a college degree, you will spend four years in core courses and electives course designed to give you a well-rounded education and help you develop the soft skills necessary to think critically and creatively, alongside the technical skills to be an effective digital marketer. 

If you chose to study at a bootcamp, your program may last anywhere from two months to one year depending on the school and its curricula. These programs focus solely on imparting the technical skills required to get a job after completing the program and less on elective courses to develop your soft skills. 

Opting for a self-directed learning program through online courses could take anywhere from a few months to years to complete and master the skills. This type of learning is flexible and has no deadlines to allow busy people to study at their own pace. Because of this, someone who can dedicate full-time hours to studying will finish the program faster than someone who can only study part-time.

Step 3: Refine your technical and soft skills

During your study and after you’ve completed your chosen education, it’s important to continue to hone the skills you’ve gained. You can practice your technical skills by completing projects to use as samples for your portfolio. This will help you also hone soft skills such as problem-solving. 

You can further refine both your technical skills and your soft skills by freelancing or taking on clients to do small digital marketing projects. This will allow you to gain real-world experience, develop your communication skills and creative skills, and have projects for your professional portfolio.

Step 4: Become certified

To enhance your skills and share proof of your expertise, you can earn a certificate or certification. Having a digital marketing certificate shows future employers or clients that you have the skills necessary to develop and execute digital marketing strategies. Becoming a certified digital marketer can open up more job opportunities. 

Step 5: Build your digital marketing portfolio

After getting the necessary training and education, it's time to build your portfolio. Although this isn't necessary, having a digital marketer portfolio will definitely increase your competency. Not to mention, it'll also guarantee you higher chances of standing out in the job-hunting process.

A digital marketing portfolio should feature projects you've completed for clients. These may have been done during an internship or externship program. Remember to ask for your client's consent before including the project in your portfolio.

Don't have any experience yet? Don't worry. Simply proving your online influence will go a long way. Showcase your content. Show off your Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram presence. Do you have a blog with a decent following? Include that too.

Step 6: Work on your resume

A digital marketer resume should highlight your experience and credentials. Use it to detail the digital marketing education you received, including any certifications you have. If you have prior education in another field, be sure to include it. Your skills and knowledge in that field could prove useful if you decide to work in a role related to that field. 

Detail your relevant work experience on your resume as this will be what prospective employers look to to see if you are qualified for the job. If you don’t have any professional experience yet, highlight the projects you have completed that are in your portfolio and discuss what went into completing them. This will give employers and recruiters a sense of your process.

Step 7: Apply for jobs

As your education winds down, begin applying for jobs. This is when your skills are fresh and you can use your teachers as resources to get noticed by the industry. Because a lot of digital marketing work is done online, you are not restricted to just applying for jobs in your city. Look for work across the country or even in other parts of the world if you wish to work remotely.

Step 8: Prepare for job interviews

The final step before landing a job as a digital marketer is the job interview. This is your chance to impress the interviewer with your understanding of the skills needed to contribute to their unique marketing goals. Practicing digital marketer interview questions beforehand will help you to prepare solid answers that reflect the quality work you can do for them.

Digital Marketer Job and Career Outlook

There’s a high demand for digital marketers today, at all levels. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for market research analysts and marketing specialists will grow 22 percent from 2020 to 2030. This is much higher than the national average for all occupations, which is eight percent. 

Roles for digital marketing managers are expected to increase 10 percent until 2030, per BLS. This will add 163,600 more managerial positions across the US. This demand means that digital marketing professionals earn competitive salaries.  

How Much Do Digital Marketers Make?

Marketing research analysts and marketing specialists, of which digital marketing is a subset, earn an average annual salary of $63,920. This is substantially higher than the average of all occupations at $45,760, according to BLS. 

Digital marketing managers earn a high average salary of $135,030 annually, per BLS. The highest 10 percent of digital marketing managers earn over $208,000 per year. These figures show that the digital marketer career path is a lucrative one with many opportunities for advancement as the profession grows alongside demand. 

Where Can I Work as a Digital Marketer?

Due to the nature of their work, digital marketers can work in the marketing department or communications department of a wide range of companies across many industries. Companies that offer products or services need to make the public aware of them and one of the quickest ways is through digital marketing using SEO, social media, or websites. 

Digital Marketing Internships

Completing digital marketing internships or digital marketing apprenticeships will give graduates or career changers the opportunity to practice their skills in a real-world setting. During this time you may also receive focused training, supervision, and mentorship, which will help you learn more rapidly and become job-ready more quickly.

Digital Marketing Certifications

A digital marketer certification is an industry-administered credential that shows your knowledge and skills are at the standard of the profession. They are typically awarded after the competition of an examination sponsored by a digital marketing industry body.

Employers and recruiters look for certifications when hiring to assess a candidate’s commitment to their work. Because certifications are typically pursued on one’s own time, outside of work, they show a dedication to staying current in industry knowledge and offering quality work. Below are three top digital marketing certifications available today.

Digital Marketing Pro Certification

This certification is offered by the American Marketing Association in the form of a 30-hour self-paced program. It covers topics such as content marketing, search engine optimization, and display and video advertising. Passing the final examination will result in a dual certification in PCM® Digital Marketing and Certified Digital Marketing Professional.

Digital Marketing Expert - Advanced Certification

Also offered by the American Marketing Association, this 120-hour program is offered online and is self-paced. The culminating exam is in the form of two 5,000-word assignments including a digital marketing research paper and a digital marketing strategy document. Passing the exam results in dual certification in PCM Digital Marketing and DMI Postgraduate Certification. 

Digital Marketing Certification

The Digital Marketing certification offered by Online Marketing Certified Professional (OMCP) is available for marketing professionals who have a college degree or work experience in the role or those who have completed an OMCP accredited course. Professionals must pass a broad-spectrum digital marketing exam and two specialty exams to earn the certification.

The Best Online Digital Marketing Courses and Training

Does creating digital marketing campaigns and learning about effective business strategies sound exciting to you? If you’re ready to begin your marketing training, below are some recommended online marketing courses, including the best digital marketing courses.

Free Online Digital Marketing Courses

The best free digital marketing courses allow you to study on your own time and at your own pace. To jumpstart your digital marketing career without spending a dime, check out the best online free digital marketing courses below. 

Google/The Open University

This extensive course by Google Digital Garage and The Open University teaches the foundations of digital marketing. The course comprises 40 hours of video content. These cover data analytics, business strategy, content marketing, display advertising, email marketing, SEM, SEO, social media, web optimization, and much more. What makes this course even better is that you won’t have to pay a dime.

HubSpot Academy

HubSpot has many digital marketing courses, ranging from complete beginner to advanced specializations, such as this course. In this 4-hour free course by Hubspot, students will develop an understanding of inbound marketing. They’ll leverage social media, content marketing, blogging, conversion optimization, lead nurturing, landing pages, conversational marketing, sales enablement, and customer marketing.

Wordstream’s Growth Academy

This educational resource teaches marketers and entrepreneurs to grow their careers and businesses. The resources provided cover the basics of online advertising, lead generation, ecommerce strategies and management, and everything in between. These lessons are created and designed by industry-leading professionals and veterans in the field.

Constant Contact

This platform contains a multitude of digital marketing guides for any aspirant. The modules heavily focus on how you can build your social media presence and influence. These include a variety of resources about how best you can utilize Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Youtube, and Instagram, among others, to grow your career.

Paid Online Digital Marketing Courses


This three-month online digital marketing course will help beginners grasp the basics of digital marketing. Students learn digital marketing fundamentals, content strategy, social media marketing, social media advertising, SEO, Google Ads, and email marketing. They also participate in real-world marketing projects.

Coursera and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

This eight-month program offered by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with Coursera will provide students with an area of specialization in one of several aspects of the developing digital marketing environment. Students will learn marketing, data collection, data analytics, data visualization, marketing performance, pricing strategies, and more.

Cornell University

Cornell University’s two-month online digital marketing course provides an overview of the digital marketing landscape, preparing students to implement a marketing framework within an organization. Students will learn about the customer funnel, paid digital media, owned digital media, creating a digital marketing plan, and more in one of the best digital marketing courses online today.

The University of Vermont

This online course at the University of Vermont is a four-week in-depth look at digital marketing strategies. Students will learn about creating SEO-friendly websites, search engine foundations, online competitor research, search engine ranking factors, keyword research, HTML, and more.


Simplilearn has digital marketing courses for beginners to advanced learners, including this PPC training certification. Students will become PPC specialists by studying Google Ads, Google Analytics, conversion tracking, search psychology, keyword research, remarketing, and more.

Northwestern University

This online course through Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management is for business managers and leaders who want to better understand modern digital marketing.

Over two months, participants will learn about social data mining, artificial intelligence applications, and customer experience mapping. Behavioral marketing, marketing attribution, content management, and brand storytelling will also be covered.

Should You Become a Digital Marketer?

Yes, you should become a digital marketer. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a marketing manager earns a median salary of $127,150 per year. Thus, enrolling in a digital marketing course is a worthy investment.

Consider whether you are interested in learning about how marketing and advertising techniques can help a business grow and connect with customers. If you are, an online digital marketing course will help you achieve your career dreams. If you are really committed, you could also pursue a Master’s Degree in Digital Marketing.

Pros of Becoming a Digital Marketer

  • In-demand field. Working as a digital marketer means you’re contributing to a field that is in demand and growing. This means your expertise is valued and implemented which can have a direct impact on the company’s success. 

  • Option to go freelance. Working as a digital marketer allows you to obtain skills and knowledge that could eventually empower you to start your own business or work as a freelancer. Because the job is mostly done online, working remotely while freelance is also an option.

  • Opportunities for job growth. Because the field is growing and demand is high, there are many opportunities for upward growth in a career as a digital marketer. Whether it’s within your current company, or for open management positions in other companies, many opportunities await you for this next chapter of your career. 

Cons of Becoming a Digital Marketer

  • Always need to be learning. Because the field is a newer form of marketing, it is still evolving to answer the changing needs of the digital world. This means your education will never really be done, and digital marketers must constantly be learning about new strategies and techniques in digital marketing to stay relevant and competitive.

  • Sitting at a computer all day. This job works with digital media, so much of the work is done on the computer. Sitting for long periods of time can be troublesome to your health, and staring at a computer monitor can create eye strain. 

  • Stressful responsibilities and interactions. The field of digital marketing can be stressful, as a company’s success often hinges on its ability to attract customers to its products and services. This pressure is underlying throughout all phases of a strategy’s design and implementation. Client interactions can also be stressful if there’s a disagreement on marketing initiatives. 


How long does it take to become a digital marketer?
It can take two to four years to become a digital marketer if you choose to pursue a college education in the form of an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree. If you decide to pursue self-directed learning or enroll in a course or bootcamp, it could take only a few months to a year to gain the skills necessary to become a digital marketer.
Is digital marketing a good career path?
Yes, digital marketing is a good career path. In 2021, digital advertising spending worldwide reached over $521 billion, according to Statista, meaning there are plenty of marketing career options. There is a wide range of specialties digital marketers can work in as well, including Search Engine Optimization specialists, marketing analysts, and social media managers.
Does digital marketing pay well?
Yes, a career in digital marketing pays well, with an average annual salary of $58,221, according to ZipRecruiter. With the field in high demand in the digital era, there are many opportunities for career advancement. This advancement typically comes with pay increases, with the top 90 percent of digital marketers earning salaries that reflect this, averaging $90,000 annually per ZipRecruiter.
Do you need a degree to be a digital marketer?
No, you can become a digital marketer without a digital marketing degree from college. There are many resources in the form of online courses, bootcamps, and tutorials that can teach you the skills required to work in digital marketing. You can also become a digital marketer with no experience in the field through these courses and by building a portfolio of work samples to show prospective employers.
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