What Digital Careers are Students Interested In?

As technology continues its rapid ascension into all aspects of public and private life, an increased demand for digital careers has emerged. New sectors, industries, and career paths have been created in the blink of an eye meaning that many of today’s most in-demand careers barely existed a decade ago.

A lot of today’s businesses exist almost exclusively online. Of those which still maintain a brick and mortar presence, a strong digital footprint is required to be successful and present new opportunities for graduates to pursue.

However, not all of these career paths are created equally. In order for educators to better understand the effect technology has had on ushering in the age of digital careers, it is helpful to examine which of these paths students are gravitating towards.

There has been a rise in demand for digital skills amongst graduates and working professionals and the education sector needs to respond accordingly. Let 's examine some of the roles which are most sought after and explore their ambitions and what they need to get there. 

The Digital Landscape

To begin understanding the direction today’s students are taking, it's important to understand the environment they find themselves in. There's an exciting, lucrative, as well as a competitive world that awaits recent graduates in the realm of digital careers and a world of opportunities for working professionals already employed in an industry, many of them marketing-related.

Digital marketing skills carry nearly a $7,000 salary premium over other marketing roles but take 16% longer to fill. - Forrester

Today’s digital careers feature a diverse series of trajectories. From the 'nuts and bolts' marketing initiatives that resemble traditional marketing career paths to design and development of mobile applications and more.

What Digital Roles are Students Aiming For?

As the demand for digital professionals continues to rise, the opportunities for working professionals is endless and the right skills open up a career trajectory that is both satisfying, lucrative and exciting. The top 8 careers many students and working professionals are interested in include:

  • CMO
  • Web Analytics Manager
  • Creative Director
  • UX Specialist
  • Mobile App Developer
  • Interactive Marketing Manager
  • Head of Digital
  • Chief Experience Officer

Let's explore each in more detail to find out the purpose of the role, skills required and salaries. 

1) Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)

Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)

Skills required: Digital marketing, Strategy and planning, data analysis, customer experience, leadership, UX, branding and advertising

Reporting to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), the CMO typically oversees the marketing functions, strategies and other matters related to such in a company. This is not an entry-level position by any means. For today’s young digital marketing professionals, the CMO chair is the endgame.

CMO’s typically hold a degree in marketing and have worked their way up the chain. The may have previously served at an executive level, oversaw a marketing department or division, and have several successful campaigns under their belt.

The average salary is $170,000 per year and often comes with additional bonuses, stock options, and more. 

2) Web Analytics Manager

Skills required: Big data, analytics, UX, ecommerce, predictive modellng

This career path is often closely associated with e-commerce businesses. Web analytics is an important skill which entails deriving insight from website data to drive company goals and aid in decision making. 

According to Web Analytics World, Web Analytics Managers are the key players in the extraction and presentation of effective information from raw data.

With so much raw information available from website analytics, managers extract and interpret data that drives web-based strategies. Often, the goal is at increasing reach, sales, or market share.

The average salary for a Web Analytics Manager is $135,000 per year.

3) Creative Director

Creative Director

Skills required: Design, UX, video editing and production, animation and strategy and planning, 

The creative director work with people in different areas who help build a vision or brand for the company. They plan advertising and oversee the whole creative process that goes into a company, from marketing to branding and all points in-between. 

This role works closely with advertising, marketing, sales, and development teams with an average salary of $146,000 per year

4) UX Specialist

Skills required: Coding, UX, visual communication, interaction design and analytics

UX specialists and designers work towards improving the user experiences of a system. This may be an ecommerce website, a mobile application, or a piece of software. 

For companies that deal exclusively in software as their main product (SaaS), user experience is key and drives usage and required skilled staff to execute successfully. A UX specialist's Their prime role is to analyze and improve the way end-users interact with the system in order to drive a seamless user experience.

The average salary for a UX Specialist is $58,000 per year.

5) Mobile App Developer

Mobile App Developer

Skills required: UX, analytics, design, coding, ecommerce

A mobile app developer is tasked with creating, updating, and maintaining mobile applications. For several brands, mobile apps are the primary way in which customers interact with the company. 

Other companies use mobile apps to enhance their accessibility. Amazon, for example, is not a platform built exclusively on mobile but its app is a vital part of their business.

The average salary is $102,000 per year, however, unlike some of the other digital careers on this list, mobile app developers have a wide range of possibilities. From startups to large, multi-national corporations; there are a lot of options for app developers and the salary will vary.

6) Interactive Marketing Manager

Skills required: Social media, analytics, digital marketing, UX, strategy and planning, copywriting

Interactive marketing managers look to create effective strategies for connecting consumers to products and services. In today’s online world, this is more crucial than ever. Technology has also enhanced the ability to personalize marketing tools for the intended audience. Interactive marketing managers make use of tracking data, surveys, buyer behavior, and more to position products and services effectively and place effective marketing messages in front of consumers.

The average salary for an Interactive Marketing Manager is $92,000 per year.

7) Head of Digital

Skills required: Digital marketing, strategy and planning, UX, analytics, SEO, PPC, social media and Customer RElationship Management (CRM)

The head of digital position is like a creative director. This role emphasizes the digital space in terms of planning, strategy, and execution. 

As digital presence becomes ubiquitous in today’s world, digital leadership is vital. This position is responsible for crafting and implementing a brand’s digital strategy and increasing market share.

The average salary for a Head of Digital is $125,000 per year

8) Chief Experience Officer

Skills required: Digital marketing, UX, social media, strategy and planning, content marketing, design, coding and analytics

The Chief Experience Officer (CXO) is an executive level position which deals primarily with creating positive interactions between the company and the customers. 

In the past, this role may have been called 'Chief Customer Officer' and is closely related with customer service. The end-goal of this position is to create positive experiences for customers and effectively communicating the brand’s value proposition to customers.

The average salary for a Chief Experience Officer is $175,000 per year.

The Rise of Competency-Based Hiring

The Rise of Competency-Based Hiring

The digital careers above are a mixture of skill-based technical jobs, management level oversight, and marketing-related functions. The skill and education requirements for each role will vary. However, there are many skills that are present in a number of the roles and the key to all of them is a fundamental understanding of digital channels and strategies. 

With the rapid advancement of technology, curriculums have struggled to keep pace. In today’s market, less of an emphasis is being placed on traditional degree programs. In fact, several of the world’s largest companies such as Apple, Google, EY, and more are opening their doors to candidates without degrees.

It should be noted that degrees are not redundant. However, they were long seen as a measuring point of competency in a given field. With today’s students deeply immersed in the digital world already, not having a degree is no longer a deal-breaker.

“Academic qualifications will still be taken into account and indeed remain an important consideration when assessing candidates as a whole but will no longer act as a barrier to getting a foot in the door.” - Maggie Sitwell, Managing Partner for Talent, Ernst & Young

Conclusion

Education plays an integral role in positioning a candidate for success and institutions should explore other ways of transferring knowledge and skills over and above a traditional degree program. Coding boot camps, training programs, online learning, microlearning and others are creating “new collar jobs” as IBM's CEO Ginni Rometty put it" and such "jobs demand new skills – which in turn requires new approaches to education, training and recruiting."

More emphasis is being placed on sourcing candidates who show proficiency in a given area, regardless in some cases, of how those skills were achieved

As many industries continue to undergo their digital transformation, new jobs and their associated skills will continue to be created. Today’s students are gravitating towards exciting new fields with a world of opportunity awaiting them and require learning opportunities to upskill and progress. 

Clodagh O'Brien
Senior Content Specialist