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The Advertising vs. Marketing Smackdown: What's Your Major?

"I've seen sales directors stand the test of time. Throughout every brand I've worked at, the churn of a marketing director is huge," he says. "There is a ceiling rate that the marketing director hits. With sales you can command a lot more salary. The more experience you have, the higher salary and commission you can earn."

The potential for growth within advertising is higher too, Harbron adds.

"You can go into other sectors and make lateral moves, such as commercial director, which would involve overseeing an entire sales operation."

Even right out of college, advertising grads have a distinct advantage over marketing grads, says Larry Chiagouris, professor of marketing at Pace University's Lubin School of Business in New York and author of the book The Secret to Getting a Job after College: Marketing Tactics to Turn Degrees into Dollars.

"Marketing is a great major because it's broader than advertising, but unfortunately employers don't want generalists. They want someone with a specific skill," Chiagouris says.

"In my opinion, advertising majors will always beat marketing majors, and marketing majors will always beat business administration majors," Chiagouris says.

When it comes to entry-level salaries, Chiagouris says that advertising and marketing majors make about the same amount, but that changes about five years into the job.

"In five years' time, marketing professionals may be making $60k to $70k each year, but an advertising executive could be up to $200k by then," he says.


"Careers in marketing abound in industry, the arts, nonprofits, education and elsewhere. They can also take many different directions from digital to analytics to brand management, just to name a few," says Dawn Lerman, executive director at the Center for Positive Marketing at Fordham University's Graduate School of Business.

Apart from the diversity of roles available in the marketing profession, the job market may be kinder to recent grads who choose a marketing major, Lerman adds.

"While both advertising and marketing majors can find jobs in advertising, it may be harder for advertising majors to break into other marketing fields because of the more narrow focus of their major," she says.

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