How to build a successful digital marketing career

by | Jan 29, 2022

If you are searching for a well-paying career opportunity that provides plenty of room for both personal and professional growth, then a digital marketing career path must be on your radar. 

As a digital marketer, you will have the opportunity to work on exciting new projects, get involved with advertising campaigns, and show off your creative talents. Have we piqued your interest yet?

But how exactly do you build a successful digital marketing career from the ground up? We are glad you asked. Below, we provide you with a detailed roadmap on how to become a digital marketer. We discuss earning potential, promotional opportunities, and much more.

How to get a job in digital marketing

First things first, how do you land that first digital marketing job? While every digital marketing career path is unique, you will need to accomplish two major objectives, which include the following:

Get experience

Often, the first step on your digital marketing career path is the hardest. However, it is also the most rewarding. You will need to start applying for entry-level digital marketing positions so that you can gain valuable experience. Be diligent, as it might take several tries before you obtain that job offer.

Fortunately, there are several ways to make yourself more appealing to prospective employers, which brings us to our next point: acquiring a certification.

Acquire a certificate

There is a common misconception that you need a four-year degree to become a digital marketer. While potential employers will certainly look favorably on any higher education you have obtained, being a degree holder is not mandatory. In fact, you can be eligible for most entry-level digital marketing positions by acquiring a certificate.

Generally, you can obtain a digital marketing certificate in six months or less. These programs will teach the basics of digital marketing, including how to manage a campaign. 

There are several different certificates available, which is why you should start with the one that most aligns with your career goals. For instance, if you want to manage social media campaigns, then you should pursue a certificate in Facebook digital marketing.

In addition to a digital marketing-specific certificate, you may also want to complete other courses such as project management or immersive design. 

Obtaining these certificates can help you on your journey to starting a digital marketing career. They will be especially useful as you pursue higher-level positions, such as a mid-level digital marketer.

What is the career path of a Digital Marketer?

While there are certainly exceptions, the standard digital marketing career path usually involves these basic milestones:

Entry-level Job

A true entry-level digital marketer will handle very basic tasks. However, the nature of their responsibilities will depend largely on what type of role they were hired to perform.

For instance, a content marketer will be tasked with crafting original written materials, such as blog posts or landing page text. Conversely, an entry-level SEO specialist must conduct keyword research, alter a website to improve search traffic, etc. 

A Facebook marketing professional will focus on social-media-related tasks. These tasks may include managing the company’s Facebook business page, determining ad format, and similar activities. 

Some companies may have you perform a wide array of digital marketing-related tasks. You may have to do everything from identifying audience bases to managing Facebook advertising campaigns. This work will benefit you in the long run, as you will have an opportunity to gain a broader range of experience.

Specialize in a channel 

After you gain some general experience as a digital marketer, it is time to zero in on a specific niche that you enjoy. You should think about which activities best suit your unique skills. 

Are you a great writer? Do you like managing teams and leading social media campaigns? Have you developed a knack for connecting with target audiences by using precise ad placements? 

Once you have identified which role or roles align with your abilities, you can begin to specialize in a particular channel. At this point in your career, you may want to consider acquiring additional certifications, such as an Asana Project Management Certificate

These programs will help you develop additional skills, which will be invaluable as you pursue promotional opportunities in the future.

Become an all-encompassing Digital Marketer

Just because many digital marketing professionals elect to specialize in a particular channel does not mean that you have to. If you want to be a more well-rounded digital marketer, seek out opportunities to develop additional skills.

For example, let’s say that you have not assisted with an email campaign before. Inform your employer that you would like to learn more about email marketing and ask if you can participate in the next campaign development process. 

Don’t be afraid to show your passion for learning. Most employers love a self-motivated staff member who wants to develop additional talents.

Progress to a mid-level position

After you have acquired a few years of experience as a digital marketer, you may have the opportunity to take on a mid-level role. Once again, the exact responsibilities and expectations associated with mid-level digital marketing roles will depend largely on the company that you work for.

However, these professionals are generally expected to manage small teams and take point in the development of marketing strategies. 

Larger organizations may have a separate mid-level manager for each type of digital marketing. On the other hand, smaller businesses may require you to be a “jack of all trades” that oversees multiple types of digital marketing campaigns.

Obtain a senior-level marketing position

The pinnacle of the digital marketing career path is a senior-level position. In the corporate world, these professionals are referred to as CMOs or chief marketing officers. A CMO can have a salary well into the six figures and often receives a wealth of other benefits, including equity in the company.

Smaller organizations may refer to their top marketing professional as a marketing director or with a  similar title. While these companies may not offer stock options, they generally pay their senior-level marketers a tidy salary.

How much can you cake? Digital marketing salaries by role

Now that we have laid out the potential career path of a digital marketing professional let’s take a closer look at your earning potential. We have broken down digital marketing salaries by role. The numbers listed below are for entry-level positions and do not reflect the average salary of mid- or senior-level digital marketing professionals.

Email marketing

As the name implies, an email marketing professional exclusively manages email-based advertising campaigns. Small companies rarely hire digital marketers just for email advertising. However, these positions do exist, which is why we wanted to briefly mention their earning potential.

On average, a U.S.-based email marketer can earn approximately $62,000 per year according to Burning Glass Technologies. Inexperienced email marketing professionals may earn substantially less, especially if they are employed by a small to medium-sized business.


SEO digital marketing specialists are tasked with increasing organic search traffic. They accomplish this goal by conducting keyword research, optimizing web page performance, acquiring backlinks, etc.

The average salary of SEO digital marketers is approximately $69,000. However, top-end earners can make $100,000 or more.

Content writing

If you have a knack for turning a phrase, then a career as a content writer may be the perfect fit. When pursuing content writing positions, you will have the opportunity to apply for full-time openings, or you can work as a freelancer. Freelancers are typically paid by the word, which means you will have a lot of control over your earning potential.

The earnings for freelance content writers vary a great deal. This variability is because some writers work part-time while others hold permanent positions. However, the average salary for content writers is just under $50K.

Social media marketing

The field of social media marketing has grown exponentially over the last few years. With top platforms like Facebook and Instagram cracking the 1 billion user threshold, social media marketers will likely become one of the most sought-after classes of professionals in the digital marketing space. 

This desirability will translate to larger salaries, especially for social media marketers working at major organizations.

With that being said, the current average salary for social media marketing professionals is about in line with the other positions listed above. The average base salary is just under $60K, and the top 10% of earners can make about $85K to $90K annually.

PPC advertising

PPC or pay-per-click advertising is a hugely popular method of marketing products and services online. By using a PPC approach, marketers are only charged when a prospective customer clicks on their content. PPC advertising has become the preferred method of marketing on search engine results pages.

Even though the social media marketing niche has broken into the mainstream, PPC advertising will remain a major part of digital marketing strategies for years to come.

On average, PPC specialists can earn about $58K annually in the United States. On the high end, PPC digital marketing professionals can make upwards of $80K per year.

Accelerate your Digital Marketing career with Pathstream

If you are interested in pursuing a digital marketing career, Pathstream is here to help. We offer a variety of courses that will teach you essential skills. Our courses include:

So what are you waiting for? Connect with Pathstream today, and let us accelerate your journey to becoming a digital marketer! 


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