May 30, 2023

How to Become a Digital Marketer: Career Options, Steps, & Expert Tips

by Digital Marketing Institute

Digital marketing is a competitive industry and it’s important to do your best to stand out. Let’s look at how to get started in digital marketing so you can forge a successful and fulfilling career.

In this blog, we’ll cover: 

  • How to get started in digital marketing 
  • Reasons to learn digital marketing
  • Expert tips on getting into digital marketing
  • Career options in digital marketing
  • What to expect from entry-level digital marketing jobs
  • How to jumpstart your digital marketing career
Assess Your Career: The Ultimate Toolkit

How to Get Started in Digital Marketing

Digital marketing is an exciting industry as it allows you to work across many areas such as social media, email, SEO, content creation, analytics, or PPC. Here are some simple steps to help you get started:

1) Get a qualification or digital marketing certification - A digital marketing qualification will show that you have a certain level of knowledge and skills. However, it’s important to pick a credible certification that is internationally recognized, informed and taught by experts, updated continuously (as the pace of digital can be hard to keep up with!), acknowledged by top marketing associations and offers career opportunities. This will help you stand out from your peers and land that all-important first interview.  

“Credentialed learning is really important. I think DMI is very good there. Sometimes these are simply two-week sprints around specific topics where you get a credential and you're a bit smarter on the topic,” says Brian Coorish, Managing Director ASGR of Accenture Interactive.

2) Learn about digital marketing tools and platforms - There are a lot of tools you should use boost digital marketing activities across a range of channels. Here are some great examples: 

  • Social media marketing - Hootsuite, BuzzSumo & SkedSocial
  • Data and analytics - Google Analytics 4, Kissmetrics & Data Boards 
  • Email marketing - Marketo, MailChimp & Campaign Monitor 
  • SEO - Ahrefs, Screaming Frog & SEMRush
  • Paid search & Social - Wordstream, AdEspresso & Google Ads Editor 
  • UX and Design - Canva, Hotjar & Google Optimize
  • AI - Jasper, ChatGPT & Murf 

These tools will help you to perform a variety of key functions to optimize and measure your digital marketing campaigns.    

3) Build your personal network by joining digital marketing groups - Creating a network or joining an online group on LinkedIn will help you to connect with other marketers or budding marketers. Through this network you can get advice, ask questions or even find out about a job opening that you could apply for.  

Some great groups to join on LinkedIn are:

4) Follow or listen to digital marketing experts - Learning from experts is a great way to understand more about digital marketing and keep on top of any trends. Experts you should be aware of and who have worked with the Digital Marketing Institute include:

5) Keep on top of digital marketing trends - There’s always something new to learn about digital marketing so it’s important to keep up with trends and developments. Along with following experts you should check out our resources page for regular blogs, podcasts and webinars on all areas of digital marketing.  

6) Start acquiring AI marketing expertise - As a new and rapidly expanding skills area, having knowledge and expertise in artificial intelligence can make you a top candidate for any job. Companies are looking to integrate AI into their products and applications to make them faster and more personalized. Examples of areas of AI you can learn about as a marketer are natural language processing (like Chat GPT), decision-making algorithms and image recognition.  

Whatever experience or knowledge you have in digital marketing, it pays to build a good foundation when you get started. Make sure that you understand what digital marketing is and the many ways it can help grow a business. 

6 Expert Tips on Getting into Digital Marketing

When you've set your sights on a career as a digital marketer, you can take certain steps to find success in any position and industry. Here are six tips to help you specialize, strategize, and streamline your career. 

Get Digital Marketing Experience through an Internship or Volunteering

The key to kickstarting any career is to get experience. The best way to do this when you’re starting out is to look for volunteering or internship opportunities.

While these positions are normally unpaid, the experience you will get will be invaluable. Look locally for any opportunities or give a shout-out to your network or across social media to see if anyone has an opening. 

Be creative with your posts to get attention. Think about what your strengths are and the things you are passionate about. For example:

‘I just got my digital marketing certification from X and am looking to hit the ground running. I’m passionate about social media and have a talent for writing content and creating clever videos. If you know of any internships or volunteering opportunities, please send them my way!’    

You can also use LinkedIn’s ‘open to work’ feature that lets recruiters and the LinkedIn community know you are looking for opportunities. Make sure your bio is up-to-date and reflects the type of job you are looking for. 

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Any hands-on practice you get will help you get your foot in the door when a digital marketing role comes up.  

Pick a Digital Marketing Specialty & Study

While many companies do look for generalist digital marketers, many marketing departments are looking for specialists that can optimize a certain area such as SEO or analytics. 

So it pays to pick a specialty that you’re interested in and build up your knowledge and skills in that area. Do some research and see what books can give you insights (Seth Godin is a marketing guru that has written many books on marketing) or look for videos that can give you practical knowledge (there are tons of tutorials on YouTube that can teach you how to use digital marketing tools or platforms).  

“You have to build your craft and understand what you like doing and what you're good at. Then build that craft and go for that specialism,” says Mischa McInerney, Director of Marketing at the Digital Marketing Institute. “If you're going to be a generalist, you can work in a smaller company and build a wide range of skills. But I think for you to build your career and craft, you need to go with a specialism.” 

Attend a marketing conference

Although knowledge and resources are widely available from podcasts, blogs and webinars, investing in a conference or event offers you benefits that other sources can't.

At digital marketing conferences, you have the opportunity to listen to global industry experts, get advice from marketing professionals, and get insight into future digital marketing trends. There are tons of conferences out there so prioritize what’s important to you. Is it the topics covered? Is it the caliber of speakers? Is it the local angle to make contacts you can tap into? 

A lot of marketing conferences usually have networking events where you can talk to global experts. You could also identify a mentor while networking that could help kickstart and shape your career. 

"You're never too early or too late in your career to have a mentor to guide you through your career, " says Eimear Walsh, Managing Partner of Alternatives and a Director of the Brightwater Group. “That could be somebody reporting into or somebody that you know through your professional network or a lecturer in one course that you've done." 

While online events can offer networking opportunities, don’t dismiss relevant offline events as a way to meet peers and learn more.

Become a Member of a Professional Marketing Body

Digital marketing is a professional industry, meaning that being a member of a professional body can help demonstrate your credibility and stand out from competitors when it comes to the interview stage.

You could join a body such as the American Marketing Association, the Australian Marketing Institute, or the Canadian Marketing Association. Explore what each marketing body offers such as networking opportunities, training, or events to see if can offer you value.  

Learn how Successful Brands use Marketing

Often the best way to learn if by looking at how leading brands have succeeded in their marketing campaigns or strategies. Different brands use different tactics dependent on factors such as their audience, industry, USPs and resources. 

Here are a few great examples of how successful brands use digital marketing:

You can also read media dedicated to the marketing space such as Marketing Week or AdWeek that have their finger on the pulse of what companies are doing to attract and engage customers. 

Keep Learning About Digital Marketing

Although education can be a valuable asset to any career in digital marketing, learning doesn’t stop when school is out. Investing in training throughout your career will help you become a stand-out digital marketer with varied and in-demand skills.

As we already mentioned, the digital marketing industry continually evolves so your industry knowledge should too. 

"Upskilling yourself with whatever technologies are coming on stream is going to be great. The likes of marketing automation is flying at the moment and there are so many opportunities for candidates within that space," says Walsh. 

DMI Graduate Story

Olivia Hughes of Dell Technologies tells us about her career and what she learned from her studies with the Digital Marketing Institute as well as tips on skills needed in today's marketplace. 

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Reasons to Learn Digital Marketing

Learning digital marketing is a way for you to get into an exciting industry that’s constant;y changing and offers a great path for career advancement. Here are some of the best reasons to learn digital marketing:  

  • There’s huge demand for digital skills - Our recent survey with CMOs found significant shortages in digital skills with the top three being data analysts (47 percent), general digital marketing skills (37 percent), and UX designers (34 percent). This means that companies want people with digital skills across industries, particularly as technologies like AI become more important. 
  • Companies cite a lack of digital skills as a barrier to growth - 71% of CEOs anticipate the skills and labor shortage is one of the biggest business disrupters reported Fortune/Deloitte CEO Survey while Korn Ferry predicts the digital skills gap will cost businesses trillions of dollars by 2030. With digital skills, you will be an in-demand candidate with lots of job opportunities.   
  • You can earn a good salary - According to, the average digital marketing salary in the United States is $65,948 per year. Entry-level positions start at $49,993 while most experienced workers can make up to $107,387 per year. With this kind of salary on offer, it’s well worth learning digital marketing.
  • The industry continues to evolve - There’s always something new to learn in digital marketing. Whether it’s a new AI technology like ChatGPT to write content or a new social media platform to target prospects on such as BeReal, you’ll constantly be learning and creating opportunities for your career and company.   
  • It can offer you flexibility - Many digital marketers have the option to work remotely or as a freelancer or consultant. In fact, the number of workers searching for freelance and temporary work has more than trebled reports Aspire’s ‘2023 Interim Recruitment Trends’ research. The demand for skilled digital marketers means that companies are willing to offer perks like remote working as a way to attract and retain talent.   
  • It makes you more versatile and agile - Working in digital marketing requires you to think on your feet and make quick decisions based on data or insights. You will need to use a lot of digital channels and be constantly measuring results and optimizing to get the best return on investment. With so many things to juggle, being a digital marketer will make you more versatile and agile, an asset to any company.      
“83 percent of marketers say their organizations engage customers in real-time across one or more marketing channels” Salesforce’s ‘State of Marketing’ report

What does a digital marketer do?

What a digital marketer does is use a variety of digital channels to raise brand awareness and drive leads. You need to use analytics to identify weaknesses and discover ways to improve performance across these channels. 

As a result, brands want marketers with digital expertise that can make their products and services more visible online. They look for people that can craft successful campaigns and optimize landing pages that convert. 

What qualifications are needed for digital marketing jobs?

It’s not essential to have a qualification to become a digital marketer, but a validation of your skills and knowledge (through a course or certification) can help you stand out when recruiters are looking through resumes. 

Digital marketing is constantly evolving, which means that every year, technologies, innovations and external factors change the playing field. This means that to make it as a digital marketer in the long term, you have to develop and keep up-to-date. 

But, there are fundamental digital marketing skills, competencies, and qualifications that largely remain the same - and getting these under your belt will kickstart your success from the get-go.

With a lack of digital skills cited as one of the biggest challenges for many companies - large and small, it will help if you show you can fill that gap with relevant skills learned through a validated and respected course or program. 

“One of the biggest challenges is finding the right talent that has strong digital, e-commerce and brand building capabilities” VP of Digital Marketing in the FMCG and Consumer Goods industry

What skills are needed for digital marketing positions?

It can be tough to navigate the ever-evolving digital marketing industry for newcomers or marketers looking to find their niche. 

However, there are a few essential digital marketing skills that can give you an advantage and future-proof your career.

List of in demand diigtal marketing skills
List of in demand diigtal marketing skills

What are the career options in digital marketing?

The demand for digital marketers globally means that there are a lot of opportunities for people with the right skills.

List of career options in digital marketing
List of career options in digital marketing

All of these roles have specific functions and will allow you to learn as you work. The more experience you get, the easier it will be to advance your career to work in a managerial or C-suite role if that’s your aspiration.  

What to expect from entry-level digital marketing jobs

As an entry-level marketer, you can expect to take on lots of tasks and be constantly learning. As a newbie to the field, you will get the opportunity to pitch in and observe day-to-day tasks and also in team meetings. 

The tasks you do will depend on the company and the resources. For example, if it’s a small team and they lack a content or design person you could be asked to source graphics for blogs or social ads. 

Or if there’s a large data project, you could be asked to create spreadsheets and organize data insights for analysis. The evolution of technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning also brings new tasks and opportunities such as Chat GPT and the metaverse.  

“If you're a marketer, machine learning is beginning to get very good at doing things that traditionally marketers did manually like segmentation and targeting. The stuff that we thought would never get there, is getting there. Once it reaches that tipping point, it'll accelerate. So you continually need to learn,” says Brian Coorish, Managing Director ASGR of Accenture Interactive.

The goal is to have passion for what you do, show initiative and bring a positive attitude to the table. That will set you up for a successful career as a digital marketer in any industry.  

How to jumpstart your digital marketing career

With the fast pace of change in the digital marketing industry, recruiters and HR professionals believe that certified online courses from globally accredited organizations equate to the marketing degrees of yesterday. The Digital Marketing Institute’s certified Professional Diploma in Digital Marketing is internationally recognized, informed and taught by experts, updated continuously, acknowledged by top marketing associations and offers career opportunities. Get your career off to the right start with us by enrolling in a course today. 

FAQs for Getting into Digital Marketing

Is digital marketing a good industry to get into?

Digital marketing is a great industry to get into as it gives you the opportunity to learn many skills, be creative and measure the results of your campaigns or activities. 

How long does it take to become a digital marketer?

There’s no set time to become a digital marketer. You can learn the fundamentals in 2-3 months through a course but you’re constantly learning as a digital marketer as the industry moves so quickly and new technologies present new and exciting opportunities. 

Is it hard to become a digital marketer?

It’s not hard to become a digital marketer but you do need passion, dedication and willingness to continuously learn. You also need a good mix of hard and soft skills from analytics and SEO to communication and creativity.  

How many hours does it take to learn digital marketing?

You can learn digital marketing in about 30 hours (that’s the length of our Pro course). As a self-paced online course it allows you to learn when you have time and when it fits into your schedule.  

How do beginners learn digital marketing?

Beginners can learn digital marketing by taking a course, getting insights from experts, gaining real-life experience through volunteering or an internship and building a network of peers and digital marketing leaders. 


Published 2020, updated 2023

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