Sep 27, 2018

Breaking into the Digital Industry in the US

by Digital Marketing Institute

Are you someone who is already midway into your career looking for a change of path? How about a recent graduate looking for a way into the digital industry?

These days there are plenty of opportunities in the US. According to Burning Glass, there were 171,141 digital marketing job postings two years ago, and the demand for digital marketing jobs had doubled over the five previous years. The average salary was around $60,000 annually.

Some of the most in-demand areas include:

- Content marketing

- Digital analytics

- Direct marketing

- Mobile marketing

As the demand for digital skills keeps growing, so do the salaries for digital specialists who can add huge value to an employer in an increasingly digitized world.   

Read on for an in-depth explanation of how you can pursue an exciting career in the digital industry in America. 

Find Out What's in Demand

A skills gap refers to an area in an industry where there is a lack of skills or a shortage of skilled professionals, and therefore positions requiring specific abilities are likely to be in higher demand.

Here are some digital marketing skills that are currently in high demand in the US.

The Internet of Things

Wondering how to specialize in the Internet of Things? If you're already familiar with programming, it's probably a very lucrative area to specialize in. But even if you want to get more familiarity with the term and what it means, it's relatively easy to find an online course that serves as an introduction.

What does the Internet of Things mean? Basically, it refers to physical devices and appliances being “on the grid” and digitally interconnected. Specialists in this area will be well-versed in building smart devices. If you are already familiar with programming software, this could be a very intriguing and dynamic field.

Information Architecture

Wondering how to build a career to become an information architect? This term is somewhat vague and has developed alongside web design, user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) experts. They are usually responsible for gathering and organizing data, ensuring the usability of websites, and coordinating information about data. 

Information architects also often end up doing testing and validating, designing sitemaps and preparing data models. Usually, they have a background in programming and web design.

Social Media Integration

Social media integration refers to how we manifest our presence in social media. A Facebook button on a company's website is a simple example of this, but it's about to get more complex. If you're a web designer, have an interest in social and are looking to differentiate, it's a good idea to look into specializing in this area because it's not about to go away.

Video Production

Video is a very popular form of content right now (maybe the most popular), and this trend is expected to continue. As a result, many companies will be looking for a content specialist who has a background in video creation and production. 

This background includes skills like scriptwriting, technical production capabilities, video editing and content marketing. So if video is your thing, it's time to get creative.  

Location, Location, Location

As such an enormous country, America provides huge opportunities for those looking to break into the digital industry, but knowing where to begin can be difficult. So, where are the hotspots for nurturing digital talent and why?

New York City

New York is always at the center of things and the digital marketing industry is no exception. Why? Because there are so many small businesses there, all of which will need help in this area if they don't already. 

Wall Street is also a significant influence. In addition, there are plenty of luxury businesses to work for and plenty of advertising firms that are no-doubt looking to hire young talent with digital specialties. This city is a great place to go if you're looking to work in a larger firm, too.


Boston is home to many digital marketing companies. There are plenty of large companies to start in, and salaries are higher than in many other parts of the country.

It's also home to many well-regarded educational institutions, so this is an excellent place to either start your career or get some extra experience.


Seattle is consistently rated one of the best places to live in the US, and because of its location on the west coast, it’s a city that’s well integrated into the tech scene.

What does this mean? Currently, there are plenty of innovative, newer and well-established digital agencies that are likely to be experiencing a growth curve.

Los Angeles and San Francisco

If you’re looking to be in a diverse city that’s at the heart of tech and start-ups, San Francisco is probably one of the first places you think of when it comes to opportunities. And LA is also home to plenty of content opportunities.

Bear in mind, too, that many other locations in California are connected to the digital marketing industry. The state is home to thousands of innovative freelancers and entrepreneurs to discover that are operating in a wide range of industries.  

Find “Unicorn” Companies

According to Fortune, unicorn companies are start-ups that have an extremely high value compared to most new businesses – this means that they are valued at $1 billion and above. UberSnapchatAirbnb, and Pinterest are just a few examples.

Many such companies are in the sharing economy, or are otherwise almost exclusively using digital marketing strategies. They are forward-thinking and growing because they can adapt to the ever-changing behaviors of an evolving consumer base.

Burning Glass states that 23% of openings in these types of businesses had a digital focus compared to 6% of Fortune 100 companies. Digital analytics and content marketing are typically more in demand for these "unicorn" companies than they are in other businesses.

The point here is that you want to keep an eye on young companies, and not necessarily look at those with a longstanding history of growth. Bear in mind that, even if a company is well-established in the business world, they may not have a good handle on their digital marketing campaigns. 

So this could be a massive opportunity for you if they are looking for digital experts to inject new energy and ideas into their team. 

Marketing, Metrics and Lingo

Digital marketers must be familiar with the jargon and the fundamentals of marketing principles. If you've gone to business school or worked on marketing for any company, you’ll probably be just fine in this regard. And if you practice marketing yourself, you’re showing off that you know a thing or two.

There’s a bit of jargon that you’ll need to be familiar with too, just so that you can communicate well with others on your marketing team. Here are a few examples:

- Pay-per-click (PPC)

- Search engine optimisation (SEO)

- Pillar pages

- Artificial intelligence (AI)

- Latent semantic indexing (LSI)

You don't need to know everything about every single term, but having a basic understanding is essential if you want to be recognized as a leader in this sphere. You should strive to build your vocabulary and familiarity with digital terminology.

Move Forward with Your Digital Career

Armed with the basics and possible locations where you could kickstart your digital marketing career, here's some practical guidelines to get started:

- Develop a portfolio

- Show all of your achievements including personal projects

- Prove your business and marketing skills

- Demonstrate critical thinking and problem-solving skills

- Show you understand metrics and some industry jargon

- Differentiate yourself with personal branding and marketing

- Consider moving to a big city if you want to gain in-house experience

- Contact successful start-ups that tend to have a large proportion of digital marketing experts on staff

You want to be savvy and take risks, sharing your innovative ideas, but don't be too precious about them. You not only have to be willing to learn new tools and strategies, you also need to be well-rounded technically while showing that you can write persuasively.

Final Thoughts

The beauty of the digital marketing industry is that you can really shape your career in such a way that fits your past, current and future skill sets. It really can incorporate a diverse range of backgrounds, and you can always shift your focus along the way as you learn and grow. In this way, you'll never feel stuck or bored because there will always be room to pivot and new opportunities available.

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