Online marketing degrees are being offered more commonly these days in schools such as Full Sail, Franklin, and Ashford University. It’s definitely a growing field as more and more companies move their marketing online. And with this new area of business, many reach out to experienced individuals to manage their campaigns. But is having an internet marketing degree really a necessity?
If you’re thinking about getting such a degree, you may want to first consider the points below.
#1. It changes too fast to fit the style of formal educational teaching
The internet marketing world changes fast. You know how college courses are set up – the semesters are planned and probably not reformatted every semester. If it took you even just 1 1/2 -2 years to complete a degree, the marketing world would be a lot different by the time you got out of school, rendering all that stuff you learned in the beginning useless and outdated. It’s a field that requires being constantly hands on. With online marketing, you can’t just take a few courses and learn everything. You really need to dedicate yourself to continuing that education throughout your career to keep up on what works.
#2. Most related jobs don’t actually require a degree
If you look at job listings, you’ll notice tons of openings for jobs like Social Media Manager, SEO specialist, Media Marketing Manager … just to name a few.
But the thing is… many jobs within this field aren’t really looking for education, they’re looking for experience.
Take a look at the above examples – “Digital Marketing Producer” and “Search Marketing Specialist”. You can see they require a bit of experience, but nowhere on the job description does it suggest the need for a degree. I didn’t just cherry pick these out of 1,000’s of results either, I found these doing a quick search within Indeed.com. Many others that mention degrees within the job description only list them as preference, not a requirement.
#3. Those years spent in school could be traded for years out in the field gaining experience
Every year you spend in school is a year you are paying money instead of earning money. Those with no experience will need to learn it from somewhere, but learning does not require obtaining a formal education from an accredited university. Getting your hands dirty and learning the skills required is available to anybody with an internet connection for a heck of a lot less money.
The internet is a wonderful place that has many avenues to help you learn. There are online business communities dedicated to helping folks start out in the field of internet marketing, and other online learning centers such as Lynda.com where you can learn tons of related skills. Neither of which are anywhere near costing you that $31K you’d spend on a degree.
#4. You’re overpaying
The entire reason people attend college is to land careers they couldn’t have without the formal education. With internet marketing, most of the time you don’t actually need a degree to work in many of the fields.
Here’s a tuition price guide taken from Full Sail University’s website:
At $10,333 per semester and 3 semesters of work, you’re looking at $31,000 for your degree. In a field where a degree is mostly not required, you may want to reconsider just how you go about educating yourself.
#5. You can easily create your own business online
The best way to learn the ins and outs of internet marketing is to start up your own web business. It isn’t nearly as hard as you might think. There’s places online to help start you out. You’ll find yourself picking up all the required skills (SEO, Google Analytics, Adwords, social media marketing, website creation) in no time at all. And best of it all, you’ll be earning your own money in the process. Earning while you learn sounds a lot better than going into debt while learning, don’t you think?
With your own business created, you won’t even need to work for anyone else. Or you could very well start up a new company with your acquired skills such as SEO or website creation! At the very least it’d teach you the skills and give you the experience many employers are looking for in the field.
Just take the time to figure out what it actually is you want to do, and find out if having a degree is really a requirement.
There’s no need to go in to debt if it can be avoided. There are plenty of opportunities for you within the field that don’t require spending ridiculous amounts of money on an education. If you can jump in the game without having to put a down payment on your education, I’d definitely consider it.
Remember that internet marketing is a constantly evolving field that requires continuous learning. A degree may give you a very expensive piece of paper, but it won’t directly get you the experience and skills you really need upon entering the job market.
Do you have a degree in internet marketing? Do you find it useful or do you feel like you could have learned it elsewhere? Share your thoughts!
I have to agree with the Full Sail students on this one. I can identify with all of you and understand each point being made. On the internet a person can take years to truly understand a single platform and even if your blog is successful and your website looks great you still have not fully optimized your potential online.. Very few have or will take the time to do it right especially if money begins to flow from efforts. I think the misconception of spending money to educate yourself is being taken out of context. Two years ago I spent close to 10K to learn everything I know about SEO and could poke holes in just about every site I look into these days, so I have to agree with the gentleman on this one. Most knowledge people learn is unstructured and they have zero understanding of the layers the internet provides. For instance I found this page because I am on a tool that shows me the back links to a site am monitoring. Can the average person find this website hmmm it depends your domain name is something that could be said to be a keyword phrase that many people are searching as they look for answers to the next step after college. You anchor text holds a lot of weight for people looking for information on this subject of whether they should educate themselves for an online marketing future.
Its mere opinion when you don’t have the background to say hey I took this course and I learned everything from spending 200.00 bucks or I learned everything from Youtube…I tell people all the time you can find any answer online if you know the right question to ask, most people do not know the right questions to ask. I am almost 50 years old and years ago when I was 27 years old I was thrown into the world of medical billing and coding. At that time there was no degree that would take me further I had to learn from trial and error and work my way up. As time went by they started with coding certifications and I thought I was too smart for that, by the time I decided to get my certifications jobs begin to say I need a BS Health Information Management I was like Heck No, I just did this certification, just 7 years ago I took another expensive certification course finished it and lost it last year because i had no BS……I said all that to say if you live long enough you will see the change. Our country is made up purely by CAPITALISM once the powers to be understand the demand is getting greater trust me the little companies that no longer required degrees in social media management will have it listed mandatory…don’t spend your life in something you love and think it will remain credible…I am here to tell you it will loose it’s power.
Thank you for taking the time to leave that comment, I do appreciate it. I will just say this – I am not against formal education at all and I think it definitely serves a purpose. However I also think it isn’t for everybody, and that it really depends what you want to do with it in the end. If you have a specific goal, like you want to be a social media manager for a huge corporation, then yes you will need a formal degree. If you want to form your own start up, a true degree isn’t a necessity.
Now that being said, I also am not advocating people spend years learning with trial and error and never get anywhere. I am actually recommending an alternative platform to a formal education that is less expensive.
While I can appreciate this point of view, in my opinion this article is ill conceived and fundamentally misguided for several reasons; here is just the top four:
1. It assumes people can distinguish between real, solid online business practices and the straight up BS that exists on the web. So sure, you can search out and learn a lot of the info on your own, but realize you’re just as likely to find a network marketing (MLM) company or info marketer; so don’t fool yourself for a moment like that journey isn’t littered with land mines because it is! Full Sail takes all the guest work out of the equation.
2. It ignores how mega-trends are increasingly professionalizing the industry. In response to mega-trends such as connected living, mobile and social media, positions exist at larger corporations that didn’t exist a few years ago. One of my favorite shows FaceOff on the SyFy Channel wants you to live-tweet using hash tags during the commercial breaks. This was unheard of five years ago, but is commonplace now. Please believe those running the campaign have formal training.
3. It assumes the individual wants to be a solo-preneurs and not business professionals. Entrepreneurship is GREAT… but it’s not right for everybody. If you want to consult with or work directly for a large corporation like Nike or Coca-Cola I can assure you, you ain’t doing their social media without some formal education and credentials.
4. It ignores the true expansiveness of the industry. I often compare the industry of Internet Marketing to the Medical industry in that it’s very broad and there are several areas of specialization. You can be a heart surgeon, OBGYN, Ear Nose and Throat Dr., Family Dr. etc. The same is true of professional Internet Marketing. You can specialize in SEO, PPC, Affiliate Marketing, Mobile, Social Media, Analytics, Email Marketing etc. GOOD LUCK learning all that in an unstructured environment.
It all boils down to your goals and what you want out of life. If all you want is to turn your laptop into an ATM that spits out $100 bills, then yeah you probably don’t need a degree for that. But if you want a professional Internet Marketing career and either consult or work in-house with the likes of Disney, Nike or ESPN you can FORGET about not having a degree!!!
To be clear, I don’t disagree with this article so much as I feel the viewpoint is one-sided and incomplete. I hope I’ve given anyone reading enough information to consider the other side of the coin and make a truly informed decision about your career goals and what’s best for you.
I do appreciate you leaving your opinion on my article, but I’m going to have to disagree with much of what you state. Even though certain giant mega corporations like Nike or Disney might require a degree to work their social media, my point was that most companies don’t. Those companies represent a mere fraction of the job market, so it really isn’t a valid arguement unless you specifically want to work for one of them. I demonstrated this above with job postings within the field (found doing just a very basic search around my area) that show a need for experience preferred over a degree, which was basically EVERY job posting I found.
You’re completely wrong that you can’t learn SEO, PPC, affiliate marketing, trends, etc without a degree. Yes, there is a lot of BS on the web but I am trying to help people out in that regard and show them something that isn’t. I never got a fancy IM degreee and I certainly know much more than some.
But of course, it absolutely all boils down to your goals and what you want out of life. I am trying to get people to step back and think for a minute about investing tons of money into a degree they may not even. If after doing thorough research you find a degree would be a better option for you, then by all means I am not saying it’s a bad thing. I’m just saying it isn’t necessary for everyone (even far beyond those that only “want to turn their laptop into an ATM that spits of $100 bills”)
Thanks for your reply. For the record I didn’t say you “can’t” learn several different Internet marketing disciplines on your own. What I said was good luck learning that in a UNSTRUCTURED environment.
Everybody’s different, but for my two cents, my precious time has always been worth more. Why on earth would I spend years learning the hard way by trial and error (which I’ve done) when I can follow an established blueprint? Always remember, time is the one commodity you can NEVER get back! That’s all I was getting at.
I’m not sure what type of music you listen to, but to quote rapper Drake “This is not four years ago”! I really encourage you to pay special attention to point two I made about how mega-trends continue to professionalize the industry. The truth is this degree program is so new a lot of companies don’t even know it exists, let alone take it seriously! But is that really the future?! So yes, few companies hire Internet marketing graduates presently, but in time that too will change.
My previous comments stood on their own. It was not my intent to pick a fight with you, but rather make some important points I felt were neglected. I wish you continued success in all your endeavors.
I am sorry, just so you know I really do appreciate your feedback so thank you for taking the time to comment here. I am not trying to argue with you for the sake of arguing I was just trying to get my point across. I agree with you that it’s hard to learn internet marketing in an unstructured environment and that the majority of people out there would fail if they had to do it completely on their own. This is why I am suggesting/recommending an alternative structured learning environment that is much more affordable than a degree in internet marketing and can be just as effective at teaching them basically everything they need to know.
Coming from a Full Sail University Internet Marketing Graduate I have to say you have definitely made some good points.
Although I did learn so much at Full Sail, gained wonderful friends and had the Instructors there every step of the way I don’t like the loans that I had to take on. Of course no one does but for the cost of the tuition I really wish I would have done more hands on training than anything.
I definitely don’t regret going to college because like I said I learned things I probably never would have such as what is a SWAT analysis and what are Buyer Persona Types. I have a whole sphere of friends that I never would have had if I had not attended Full Sail but you’re right, you don’t need a degree in IM to succeed.
Concerning your 1st reason about IM changing, I will say this about Full Sail and the instructors, they are constantly changing their curriculum to stay current with what’s going on. Also, at any time, I can go back and take a class for free so that I can stay up to date as well.
Great post and some really great advice for those on the fence of whether or not to get that degree or go for experience.
Thank you for leaving your insight here, it is greatly appreciated. College can be great, and the experiences and friendships you gain cannot be replaced. Still I think one must consider the cost of an education with their needs and what they can afford. It is definitely possible to learn and achieve success without a degree in this field, so if you don’t want to spend the money on a degree there really isn’t any reason to.
It’s really awesome that Full Sail keeps up to date and allows you to go back and take class for free! Considering the way the internet marketing field changes all schools that offer degrees in IM should allow students to do that (if they don’t already).
I know some people learn better in different types of environments with more structured learning (like college), and the may benefit a lot from a degree. But for me, personally I learned everything I know about IM from much cheaper alternatives and first hand experience.
Really good job done here!!! A degree in Internet Marketing is a new thing and I am in agreement with you that you don’t need degree in this industry but i think what people can do is they can design some sort of crash course on Mindset and approach towards Internet marketing, although this market is very dynamic but still Mindset and approach will remain the same!!!
Mindset and approach.. you are absolutely right! Those make all the difference and are things that will never change.
First of all; Really awesome site you have here!
I really enjoyed reading your aticle about Internet Marketing Degree. This will help a lot of people who need to find the proper information regarding this subject. And what better ways is there, then to visit your site?! Your site and this article ROCKS!
Thanks a TON!
Yeah just giving people some food for thought. : ) Thank you for the comment Johan!
You have provided a lot of good information for anyone wanting to build an online business. We are fortunate to have people like you who give us insight to the real workings of building a business. As far as having a degree, I feel joining a program like Wealthy Affiliate is more important because you learn from the successful professionals. What could be better than that?
Yeah, I think it’s a great opportunity many people tend to overlook. Just thought I’d put things into perspective. : )
You’ve created an awesome clear site here 🙂
I didn’t realize internet marketing courses were $10,000 and upwards. That’s a crazy amount of money, especially when we can start with Wealthy Affiliate for Free and no doubt receive much better quality training from Kyle and the rest of the community 😉
Thanks Neil. Yeah, internet marketing courses are expensive…but that is the price you pay for a college education. I’m not saying it’s worthless, just that people should really think twice about paying for an actual degree for these kinds of jobs if it’s not needed. You definitely can get the same support, training an experience from cheaper alternatives (like WA).