Editor's Note: This article was updated to include new information.
Marketing certifications are in demand in many industries. Employers use certifications as a sign that an applicant has the necessary knowledge and skills for the job. Even experienced digital marketing specialists use certifications as a way to demonstrate their commitment to keeping their skills current. Google marketing certifications are one example of a highly desirable qualification that can help increase your earnings.
This article will look at the leading academic marketing qualifications and the most in-demand marketing certifications from multiple vendors.
Initially, to find hard data for this article, we scoured the job sites for facts. With an absence of data about the monetary value of certifications, we did the next best thing. We dove deep into those job sites to find the most requested certification prerequisites. This helped us build a much better understanding of the most in-demand certifications.
Digital Marketing Specialists Are in High Demand
Marketing specialists are in high demand, and that's not expected to change in the next five years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a market research analyst or marketing specialist can expect to make $65,810 per year. This is an increase from earnings of $62,000 in 2018. Between 2020 and 2030, it's expected that 163,600 new jobs will be created in these fields. That's job growth of around twice the labor market average.
A marketing manager, on the other hand, can expect to make $141,490 per year or $68.03 per hour. This more specialist role is expected to see 31,800 new jobs created between 2020 and 2030. Overall demand for digital marketing specialists continues to grow. Vacancies have increased by 19.6% since 2006, according to the Payscale Index report on marketing and advertising.
Google marketing certifications are well-known, readily achievable and something that has strong brand recognition. The Google search engine has a worldwide market share of 91.66%, according to Statcounter. This means Google marketing certifications are likely to carry weight, even with employers who aren't well versed in marketing tools themselves.
Qualifications and Certifications Pay Off
According to Robert Half Technologies’ 2021 Salary Guide, an entry-level Marketing Manager with no certifications can expect to earn $67,000 per year. An experienced, certified Marketing Manager earns approximately $116,500. That's a difference in earnings of around $43,000 per year.
The difference is even more marked for a Digital Marketing Specialist. Entry-level positions pay an average of $47,750 per year. Experience and certifications can help a specialist almost double their salary. Certified Digital Marketing Specialists can earn approximately $94,000. Having specialty certifications can pay dividends.
Recent graduates often question whether certifications are worth paying for. U.S. News lists the average price of public, in-state university tuition at $10,338 per year. Some of the certifications we list here are offered free of charge. For example, there is a free Google marketing certification in the form of "The Fundamentals of Digital Marketing."
The cost of the premium certifications varies from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand. However, these certifications can be earned quite quickly and have the potential to offer a significant increase in earnings.
Academic Courses Versus CertificationsAcademic marketing courses are often designed to teach the basics of digital marketing to a novice. Some advanced courses aim to further the understanding of someone who already works in a marketing-related position.
In contrast, digital marketing certification courses may focus on specific tools. Some courses are common prerequisites for employment with certain businesses. It's rare to see a job advertisement requiring candidates to be certified by the Kellogg School of Management. However, one is very likely to encounter job listings that require candidates to be Google Ads certified.
A candidate looking to earn a marketing position at a small business may find free Google marketing certifications put them in good standing. Those looking to join a marketing agency may wish to look at more specialist tools, such as HubSpot.
We will first look at such academic certifications, then move on to so-called “prerequisite” certifications.
Kyle Shea, executive vice president of Partnership Development at All Campus, told CMSWire that academic courses are often aimed at newcomers to the field and can help those looking to start a career in digital marketing. These courses provide a broad, basic understanding of each discipline. “In more specialized digital marketing certificates, the course content is focused on one or two areas." Kyle explained that this narrow focus is "in order to provide students with a deeper understanding of each.”
Shea said these academic courses are offered part-time “and typically take from two to six months to complete." He explained they usually require "a commitment of three to eight hours per week of work."
Kellogg School of Management’s Digital Marketing Strategies
Certifications are an effective way for candidates to show competency in key skills or the use of common tools. In many industries, a staple of digital marketing certifications have become job prerequisites and requirements for promotion. However, many marketers are pursuing additional education, training and certifications for personal development purposes. Pursuing certification courses can be a cost- and time-efficient way of continuing an individual's education.
“Certifications can be a great addition to any education program. Customers who are proficient in your organization’s tools are likely to get much more out of them," explained Greg Rose, chief experience officer at Intellum, a leading education platform provider. He added that this can improve client satisfaction, "leading to increased retention, loyalty and advocacy."
Rose clearly understands how effective online courses function. His company, Intellum, actually invented the customer education platform for Facebook Blueprint, which serves as a proven model for how digital certifications should work. They highlighted the inclusion of major certifications, including Kellogg School of Management's Digital Marketing Strategies, noting, "there are several long-running certification programs that touch millions of users."
Rose listed several other certification programs, including:
Two Month Certification Program
The two-month-long Digital Marketing Strategies: Data, Automation, AI & Analytics course covers three key topics over eight modules. It shows learners “how modern marketing is powered by data, scaled by automation and optimized by analytics.” The course costs $2,600, and Kellogg offers a payment plan. The goal of the course is to provide professionals with a practical understanding of what modern marketing practice looks like from an organizational perspective.
There are eight modules in total, which are taught from a high-level strategic view:
- A Framework for Marketing in a Digital World
- Understanding Customers and Generating Insights
- Customer Segmentation and Behavioral Marketing
- The Customer Journey and Content Strategy
- Brand Storytelling in a Digital World
- Accelerating Marketing Execution Through Agile Marketing
- Marketing Attribution, Testing and Experimentation
- Marketing Automation and Artificial Intelligence in Marketing
Upon successful completion of the course, Kellogg Executive Education provides a verified digital certificate of completion to graduating students. Testing is a rigorous process, and students must achieve at least an 80% success rate to pass the course.
The Digital Marketing Institute’s Digital Marketing Certification
The Digital Marketing Institute offers four digital marketing courses, which range in length from 30 hours up to two years. When a student passes the Pro or Expert course, they're certified by both the Digital Marketing Institute and the American Marketing Association.
The Digital Marketing Pro course lasts 30 hours, is self-paced and costs $1,368. This course is actually two certifications in one:
- Digital Marketing Institute’s Professional Certificate in Digital Marketing
- The American Marketing Association’s Professional Certified Marketer
Encompassing 10 modules, this certification is geared toward marketers working in Management and Senior Management. The modules cover the following topics:
- Introduction to Digital Marketing
- Content Marketing
- Social Media Marketing
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Paid Search (PPC) using Google Ads
- Display and Video Advertising
- Email Marketing
- Website Optimization
- Analytics with Google Analytics
- Digital Marketing Strategy
Its Digital Marketing Expert course combines two well-known certifications:
- Digital Marketing Institute’s Certified Digital Marketing Expert
- American Marketing Association’s PCM Advanced Digital Marketing
The course costs $4,109 and consists of 7 modules:
- Strategy and Planning
- CX, E-commerce and CRO
- Search and Digital Channels
- Social Media Marketing
- Digital Selling
- Essential Skills
- Leadership and Management
Both of the DMI’s digital marketing certifications must be recertified every three years by earning approved marketing continuing education units.
The OMCP Digital Marketing Certification
Unlike the other certifications we've discussed, OMCP certification has several unique requirements. Students must achieve passing scores on the OMCP exams. They must also be able to demonstrate 5,000 hours of marketing experience.
The marketing experience can be from any marketing job. Experience may include traditional marketing, copywriting, advertising or selling marketing services.Alternative options include a post-secondary degree, plus 2,000 hours of marketing experience, or completion of an approved digital marketing course, plus 1,000 hours of marketing experience.
To receive the OMCP certification, the student must pass two specialty exams and one broad-spectrum digital marketing exam. The content of the OMCP exams includes the following topics:
- Content Marketing
- Conversion Rate Optimization
- Email Marketing (included within OMCA and OMCP Base exams only)
- Mobile Marketing (included within OMCA and OMCP Base exams only)
- Paid Search (PPC)
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Social Media Marketing
- Digital Analytics
There is no OMCP course to prepare the student for the exams. However, there is a list of digital marketing courses that are approved by OMCP. Students are expected to spend at least 64 didactic hours taking the courses. The OMCP exams cost $395 for all three parts, and they must be passed every two years for the certification to remain valid.
Google Marketing Certifications: Fundamentals of Digital Marketing
Google Garage’s Fundamentals of Digital Marketing certification is accredited by Interactive Advertising Bureau Europe and The Open University. It consists of 26 modules that cover topics, such as:
- The Online Opportunity
- Your First Steps in Online Success
- Build Your Web Presence
- Plan Your Online Business Strategy
- Get Started With Search
- Get Discovered With Search
- Make Search Work for You
- Be Noticed With Search Ads
- Improve Your Search Campaigns
- Get Noticed Locally
- Help People Nearby Find You Online
- Get Noticed With Social Media
- Dive Deep Into Social Media
- Discover the Possibilities of Mobile
- Make Mobile Work for You
- Get Started With Content Marketing
- Connect Through Email
- Advertise on Other Websites
- Deep Dive Into Display Advertising
- Make the Most of Video
- Get Started With Analytics
- Find Success With Analytics
- Turn Data Into Insights
- Build Your Online Shop
- Sell More Online
- Expand Internationally
The Fundamentals of Digital Marketing certification course is free and takes approximately 14 hours to complete. There is no time limit to complete the course. Learners can access the content at any time and everything is self-paced. Once all modules have been completed, Google will provide the student with a certificate of completion.
Scope for Further Career Progression
Marketers who wish to progress to more advanced courses and cover the subject in more detail can do so. There are premium Google marketing certifications that cover specific aspects of marketing more thoroughly.
Google requires businesses wishing to join the Google Certified Partner program to have at least one Google certified employee. This means people with Google Certification have an advantage in the job market.
As of 2021, at least half of a brand's "eligible users" need to be Google certified. This means that employees who are Google certified are more valuable to a brand. Google requires recertification after 12 months. This ensures partners are always following marketing best practices for their clients.
Content Marketing Institute’s Master Class Certification
The Content Marketing Institute’s Master Class course has 10 modules (30+ hours of curriculum) and includes access to over 20 additional marketing-related classes. The 10 required modules cover the following topics:
- What Is a Content Marketing Strategy
- Balancing a Content Marketing Strategy
- The Operating Models of Content
- Bringing It Together: The Context Case Study
- Investing In Audiences v s. Buyers
- The Four Strategic Archetypes of Content
- Story & Narrative: The Heart of Business Storytelling
- Bringing It Together: The Context Case Study Part II
- Measurement By Design
- Story Map Your Operation
The course is updated every year to ensure students are learning strategies that are still relevant and effective. In addition to the ten modules listed above, there are elective modules covering topics, such as:
- Write Like a Journalist
- 7 Habits to Build Customer Loyalty
- Profitable Multicultural Marketing
- Content Strategy and SEO for B2B Lead Generation
- Loyalty Loop - How Small Content Adds Up to Big Business
- Introducing the Next Generation of Google Analytics
- How AI Will Change Content Marketing Forever
- Visual Content Strategy For Content Marketers
The Master Class course is self-paced and costs $995. Students are given 12 months to complete the course.
The SMEI Certified Professional Marketer Course
Sales & Marketing Executives International, known as SMEI, offers the SMEI Certified Professional Marketer (SCPM) Exam Preparatory Course.
Founded in 1935, SMEI is a nonprofit organization that covers all aspects of marketing, not just digital advertising. This long history and broader focus means the course content is slightly different from the topics covered by other courses in this list.
The course registration fee of $989 includes one year of access to Connect. This tool allows students to access their online textbook, chapter quizzes and interactive exercises. The low fee and broad course content make this an interesting alternative to free Google marketing certifications. The course consists of 18 modules:
Part 1: Initiating the Marketing Process
- Creating Customer Relationships and Value through Marketing
- Developing Successful Organizational and Marketing Strategies
- Building an Effective Marketing Plan
- Understanding the Marketing Environment, Ethical Behavior and Social Responsibility
Part 2: Understanding Buyers and Markets
- Consumer Behavior
- Understanding Organizations as Customers
- Understanding and Reaching Global Consumers and Markets
Part 3: Targeting Marketing Opportunities
- Marketing Research: From Customer Insights to Actions
- Market Segmentation, Targeting and Positioning
Part 4: Satisfying Marketing Opportunities
- Developing New Products and Services
- Managing Successful Products, Services and Brands
- Pricing Products and Services
- Managing Marketing Channels and Supply Chains
- Retailing and Wholesaling
- Implementing Interactive and Multichannel Marketing
- Integrated Marketing Communications and Direct Marketing
- Advertising, Sales Promotion and Public Relations
- Using Social Media and Mobile Marketing to Connect with Consumers
- Personal Selling and Sales Management
Students are required to score 75% or better in the examination to earn the certification.
The SMEI certifications may be of interest to individuals who are looking to move into marketing manager roles. Managers need an understanding of all marketing channels, PR and market research. The SMEI course covers these topics better than vendor-specific digital marketing courses would.
UC Berkeley Extension Certificate Program in Marketing
The UC Berkeley Extension Certificate Program In Marketing is a college-level certification program. It promises to teach students everything they need to know to get started with a career in marketing. The program, which costs $4,700, includes 10 total classes and is typically completed within two years. Topics that are taught include:
- Marketing Analytics
- Digital Marketing
- Brand Management
- Paid Advertising
- Social Media
- Marketing Research
The curriculum for the course includes three Core Courses (six semester units). It also includes four additional semester units of electives (usually two courses) for a total of 10 classes. This adds up to 150 hours of instruction, and classes are offered both online and on campus. According to a report on Upwork, 88% of graduates who were polled obtained a salary increase of 6% or more after completing this certification.
This course is also useful for those who want to branch out into general marketing. It's heavily focused on digital marketing and analytics, but it also covers market research and soft skills.
The Google Ads Certification and Analytics IQ Credential
The Google Ads certification and Google Analytics Individual Qualification credentials are separate from Google’s Fundamentals of Digital Marketing certification. They are premium Google marketing certifications and are very much in demand. On an average day, there are approximately 220 job listings on SimplyHired and 125 on LinkedIn Jobs requiring Google Ads certification for remote applicants.
The skills students learn from these courses could be applied to almost any form of marketing job. Analytics can be added to any blog or website, and paid search can apply to a variety of niches.
Many of the academic certification courses previously mentioned cover topics, such as Google Ads and Analytics in detail. "[these] are certifications that are part of the education that a student would learn as part of many digital marketing certificate programs," according to Kevin Shea. Shea explains that the certificate program covers the content in the test in a structured way. Learners simply need to study the content, then take the certification they're interested in. Taking these Google marketing certifications gives learners a chance to study key skills from the experts themselves.
There are six Google Ads certifications available, covering Ads Search, Shopping Ads, Ads Display, Ads Apps, Ads Video and Ads Measurement.
The search giant recommends that students review the Analytics Academy’s courses material before taking the Google Analytics IQ exam. In particular, they should review the courses entitled Google Analytics for Beginners and Advanced Google Analytics. Students need to have a score of 80% or greater on the certification exams to pass. The Google Ads certification and Analytics IQ credential are both valid for 12 months.
- Facebook Blueprint
- Facebook Blueprint is Facebook’s eLearning center. If offers free courses covering a vast number of topics, including:
- Facebook ads
- Facebook for business
- Building community
- Raising money to fight injustice
- Digital Marketing Associate
- Marketing Science Professional
- Creative Strategy Professional
- Facebook Certified Media Planning Professional
- Marketing Developer
- Media Buying Professional
- Advanced Marketing Developer
- Advertising API Developer
- Community Manager
The certifications listed above are actually the exams themselves, rather than courses. Facebook offers study guides for each certification, along with practice exams to help the student prepare. Facebook Certification exams cost $150 for professional exams and $99 for associate exams. On an average day, there are 100 remote job listings on SimplyHired and 50 job listings on LinkedIn Jobs for Facebook Blueprint certified workers.
Facebook's courses are highly vendor-specific and focus on marketing within the Facebook ecosystem. The Facebook platform is still very popular, claiming 2.8 billion monthly active users in 2021, so knowledge of how to use their advertising platform is valuable. However, other more general certifications may offer better returns for a newcomer to the field looking for a general marketing or copywriting position.
HubSpot Content Marketing Certification
HubSpot’s Content Marketing certification course is very popular for many reasons, chief among them being that it's free, well-recognized and comprehensive. HubSpot's tools are used by many marketing agencies. Marketing specialists should find the skills they learn while studying for the certifications are highly transferable.The course consists of 12 lessons, 56 videos and 11 quizzes. An individual can expect to take approximately 6.5 hours to complete the training. The 12 lessons cover the following topics:
- The Power of Storytelling
- Building a Content Creation Framework
- Planning a Long-Term Content Strategy
- Generating Content Ideas
- Creating Quality Blog Content Your Audience Loves to Read and Share
- How HubSpot Uses Blogging to Rank #1 on Google
- Extending the Value of Your Content Through Repurposing
- Creating Topic Clusters and Pillar Pages
- How to Create a Successful Video Marketing Strategy
- Building a Guest Blogging Strategy Powered by SEO
- How to Effectively Promote Content
- Measuring and Analyzing Your Content
HubSpot certifications are valid for two years. On an average day, there are approximately 40 remote job listings on SimplyHired and 25 on LinkedIn Jobs that request knowledge of HubSpot. Advertisements may expect candidates to be HubSpot certified, be experienced with HubSpot software or be prepared to become HubSpot certified. HubSpot offers many marketing-related certification courses. A marketer who wishes to work for a HubSpot-focused employer would do well to take as many of the courses as possible.
Marketing certifications can help make a marketer more valuable and more knowledgeable for a reasonable cost and effort. Usually self-paced, there are quite a few marketing courses that culminate in certification. Some, such as Google’s and HubSpot’s certifications, are free of charge. Starting with basics, such as the free Google marketing certifications, is a good option for those considering a career change.
It's easy to forget that offline marketing exists, but offline channels still have a lot of value. A Nielsen report covering media consumption during Q2 2020 showed that live TV accounts for a large proportion of the average American's media consumption. The average person spends three hours and 43 mins per day consuming live TV, so there's still room for traditional marketing. Courses, such as SMEI's and the one offered by UC Berkeley, cover those topics well.
Those interested in digital-only have the option of Facebook, Google or HubSpot's online content for free or very low fees. Whatever course a would-be marketer chooses, there's potential for significant salary increases. Having professional certifications can substantially increase one’s hiring potential and salary, and it can also help an employee gain competence and confidence in a competitive marketplace.