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Guide to Marketing Certifications

Max Freedman
Max Freedman
business.com Contributing Writer
Updated Jan 23, 2023

Earn credentials that can advance your marketing career.

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 improve your skills and advance your career. We’ll explore the highest-regarded universities offering marketing certificates, free paths for learning how to obtain today’s critical digital marketing skills and the most-trusted professional marketing organizations.

What is the purpose of a marketing certificate?

A marketing certificate can be valuable if you feel you need more formal training in marketing skills, including:

Marketing certificate courses can also help you understand marketing tools, including social media platforms, Google Ads, Hootsuite, HubSpot and other web analytics tools. Certificate courses cater to longtime professional marketers and total newcomers alike. You can take marketing certificate courses through: 

  • Universities
  • Specialized online institutions like Hootsuite Academy
  • Leading marketing associations

Which certifications are in demand?

The most in-demand certifications are in digital marketing and include the following: 

  • HubSpot email and inbound marketing
  • Google Ads and Google Analytics
  • Social media marketing 

We’ll discuss these certifications in more detail below.

TipTip: To develop specific skills to become a digital marketing expert, consider focused training on individual tools. Consider a more comprehensive certificate program if you’re building your skill set as a new college graduate.

Should you obtain a certification in digital marketing?

Consider the following when deciding whether to obtain a digital marketing certification

  • Are you planning to expand your online presence? If you plan to expand your business’s online presence, a digital marketing certification will likely be relevant to your work. 
  • Do you need to learn specific marketing tools? If you must learn specific digital marketing tools like Hootsuite, Google Ads and HubSpot email marketing, pursuing a digital marketing certification can help to familiarize you with these platforms on your own schedule, often for far less money than undergraduate college courses. 

However, if your business requires minimal or just basic use of internet platforms for marketing purposes, a certification in digital marketing might not be for you.

How do you become a certified marketing professional?

You don’t need a certification to work in marketing. However, if you want one, there are many ways to become a certified marketing professional. You can:

  • Take a series of courses at a university
  • Take online programs through marketing platforms and companies 
  • Take special in-person classes hosted by industry organizations and associations of longtime professional marketers

Learn more about each of these certification types below.

Certifications from accredited universities

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

Whether you’re a longtime marketer or transitioning into the field, a well-regarded university’s name on your resume can boost your professional standing. Here are some universities that offer marketing certifications: 

Other colleges with reputable marketing certifications include:

Programs vary widely in price, duration, medium (online or in person) and focus. Most certification programs cost $2,000 to $5,000, but some go up to $15,000.

Before enrolling in a certification program at an accredited university, ensure you understand what you’re purchasing. Some programs are a week or less long and don’t offer college credits, while others in the same price range span months and do count for college credit.

Did you know?Did you know? Digital marketing certification courses cover increasing brand awareness online and effectively sharing your brand’s story.

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. Many specific-skill certificates are free or low cost. Some are through the company that created the tool, such as Google or HubSpot, while others are through third-party online training companies.

The certification that will be most valuable for your career depends largely on your agency or company’s marketing niche. Here are some 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 are for-profit education companies that don’t operate as industry touchstones. Others are legitimate professional organizations that offer valuable certifications. 

Marketers who keep up with industry affairs will take note if you’ve obtained a certification from the below organizations.  

American Marketing Association

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

The AMA’s certification program has four tracks: Digital Marketing, Marketing Management, Sales Management and Content Marketing. All programs begin with an overview of the skills required for the certification and a free practice exam.

  • Digital Marketing: The AMA has two options here. 
    • Digital Marketing Pro: The Digital Marketing Pro program is done in cooperation with the Digital Marketing Institute and includes two certificates: a PCM Digital Marketing and a Certified Digital Marketing Professional. The course encompasses 30 hours of online learning on social media, PPC, email marketing, SEO, content marketing and digital marketing strategy. When you finish the course on your own timeline, you’ll schedule an exam with a local testing center. At the time of this writing, the cost for this track is $1,368, a discount from the regular price of $1,955.
    • Digital Marketing Expert: For a more comprehensive training, you can take the Digital Marketing Expert track, which includes 120 hours of learning. Marketers who complete this training successfully earn two credentials: PCM Advanced Digital Marketing and Certified Digital Marketing Expert. Instead of a test at the end, students are required to write two 5,000-word assignments, a digital marketing research paper and a digital marketing strategy document. Both documents will comprise a complete digital marketing campaign from start to finish. The Digital Marketing Expert program costs $5,870 (check for discounts).

  • Marketing Management: The marketing management track comes with a free handbook and the AMA Marketing Management Study Package ($249 for members, $349 for nonmembers). The certification exam costs an additional $99 for members or $299 for nonmembers.
  • Sales Management: Through the AMA website, you can review the topics you need to know to pass the Sales Management track’s free practice exam. The certification costs $249 for AMA members and $349 for nonmembers.
  • Content Marketing: As with the Sales Management track, you can access all the topics you need to know for this course on the AMA website and then take a free practice exam. The prices are the same: $249 for AMA members and $349 for nonmembers.

To maintain your certification in any 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 or training sessions. 

Did you know?Did you know? According to Robert Half’s 2023 Salary Guide, an entry-level marketing manager with no certifications earns, on average, $72,250, while an experienced marketing manager earns around $92,250. Location factors into salary as well.

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 Video
  • Data 360
  • 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 nine to 24 months of their initial certification. Staying certified may entail logging CEUs or retaking the certification exam. Most of IAB’s exam and training packages cost $299 for members and $399 for nonmembers. However, some have specific eligibility requirements, so read the guidelines carefully before choosing a program.

4A’s

Founded in 1917, 4A’s is one of the oldest and largest professional marketing organizations in the U.S. It serves 740 member agencies across 1,400 offices, and its Benefits division insures more than 164,000 marketing agency professionals. 4A’s offers various learning and development programs, including webinars, workshops, lectures and multiday networking events. 

4A’s offers four certification trainings:

  • Team Leadership Certification for Managers ($1,400)
  • Media Essentials: From Chaos to Clarity ($499)
  • Mentalk Workplace Mental Health Certificate for HR Professionals ($1,000)
  • Agency Fundamentals ($299)

4A members get a 20 percent discount on these prices.

Jennifer Dublino contributed to the reporting and writing in this article.

Image Credit: Chinnapong / Getty Images
Max Freedman
Max Freedman
business.com Contributing Writer
business.comb.
Max Freedman is a content writer who has written hundreds of articles about small business strategy and operations, with a focus on finance and HR topics. He's also published articles on payroll, small business funding, and content marketing. In addition to covering these business fundamentals, Max also writes about improving company culture, optimizing business social media pages, and choosing appropriate organizational structures for small businesses.