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Guide to Marketing Certifications

Mona Bushnell
, writer
Oct 05, 2017
Image Credit: Narinnonthamand/Shutterstock
> Career

Grow your career with these legit certifications.

With the right credentials, you can advance your career in the marketing industry.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of certifications for marketing professionals. We compiled this guide of reputable marketing certifications to make it easier for you to boost your skills and advance your career.  

Certifications from accredited universities

Marketing certifications are in high demand, and many accredited universities and colleges are responding to that demand by offering certifications. Some university certifications are intended for seasoned marketing professionals, while others are meant to act as a steppingstone for people changing careers or recent college graduates entering the workforce.

Ivy League schools like Cornell (eCornell) and Harvard (Extension School) offer comprehensive continuing education programs that allow students to earn certificates in areas like marketing strategy and marketing management. Cornell's six-class program takes three months to complete and costs $3,600. The program is sold as "MBA-level strategic marketing training" and is geared toward professionals looking to level up. Harvard's program includes four graduate credit classes (which can be applied to a degree), takes on average 1.5 years to complete and costs on average $10,800.

Other colleges with reputable marketing certifications include Duke University, MIT, Baruch College, the University of Illinois, UC Berkeley, the University of Notre Dame, Georgetown University, the University of Georgia, Oregon State University and Florida International University, to name a few. Programs at schools like these vary drastically in price, duration, medium (online vs. in person) and focus. Most certification programs cost $2,000 to $5,000, but some programs are as much as $15,000.

Before you enroll in a certification program at an accredited university, make sure you understand what you're purchasing. Some programs are a week or less in length and do not count for college credit, while other programs in the same price range span months and count for college credit.

Certifications for specific digital marketing skills

Certifications for specific programs or services can bolster your resume and help keep you current in the constantly evolving world of digital marketing. The certificates for many specific skills are free or low-cost.

The type of certification that will be valuable for your career depends largely on the area of marketing you work in and the agency or company you're with. Here are a few of the most popular and reputable skill-based certifications for marketing professionals:

Certifications from industry organizations and associations

It pays to be discerning about certifications from independent marketing associations. Many organizations that offer certificates and certifications are for-profit education companies that don't operate as industry touchstones, while others are legitimate professional organizations that offer valuable certifications.  

American Marketing Association

The American Marketing Association (AMA) is one of the most established professional marketing organizations in the country. In addition to hosting educational networking events and disseminating industry information through its publications and partnerships, the AMA offers the American Marketing Association Professional Certified Marketer program.

The AMA's certification program has two tracks: Digital Marketing and Marketing Management. Both programs begin with an overview of the skills required for the certification and a free practice exam.

  • Digital Marketing: The digital marketing track continues with an AMA-approved Learning Path from LinkedIn Learning, which consists of videos and tutorials. After that, students take a 120-question multiple-choice exam. Students must earn 80 percent or higher on the exam to pass the certification. The digital marketing program costs $249 for AMA members and $349 for nonmembers.
  • Marketing Management: The marketing management track comes with a free handbook and the AMA Marketing Management Study Package ($99 for members, $149 for nonmembers). The exam for the certification costs an additional $99 for members or $299 for nonmembers.   

To maintain your certification in either area of study, the AMA requires you to earn 30 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) every three years, with a minimum of 10 units per year, and to recertify every three years. CEUs are determined by the AMA and may include attending events, webcasts, virtual conferences and training sessions. 

Interactive Advertising Bureau

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) counts more than 650 media and technology companies among its members and offers four certification programs: Digital Media Sales, Digital Ad Operations, Digital Data Solutions, and Digital Media Buying and Planning. Members and nonmembers may pursue certification through IAB, but fees are higher for nonmembers.

IAB requires certified marketing professionals to recertify within 9-24 months of their initial certification. Staying certified may entail logging continuing education credits or retaking the certification exam. Most of IAB's exam and training packages cost $699 for members and $899 for nonmembers, but some of the certifications require specific eligibility requirements, so be sure to read the guidelines carefully before choosing a program.


Founded in 1917, 4A's is one of the oldest and largest professional marketing organizations in the country. It serves 740 member agencies across 1,400 offices, and its Benefits division insures more than 164,000 marketing agency professionals. 4A's offers a variety of Learning and Development programs that range from webinars and workshops to lectures and multiday networking events. The main certification 4A's offers is the IPA Foundation Certificate, in partnership with its sister organization in the U.K., the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising.

The IPA Foundation certification program consists of 35 hours of online coursework and is recommended for recent college graduates and professionals who are new to the marketing industry. 4A's certification costs $600 for members and $850 for nonmembers.

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Mona Bushnell
Mona Bushnell
Mona Bushnell is a Philadelphia-based staff writer for and Business News Daily. She has a B.A. in writing, literature, and publishing from Emerson College and has previously worked as an IT technician, a copywriter, a software administrator, a scheduling manager, and an editorial writer. Mona began freelance writing full time in 2014 and joined the Business News Daily/ team in 2017. She covers business and technology.
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