Career Guide

How to Become a Digital Marketer

It should be no surprise that the world has changed considerably over the past ten years. Just take note of the number of positions that didn’t exist (or barely existed in the public’s eye) a decade ago. 

Digital marketing was a rarefied subfield of advertising then, and most likely involved older ways of thinking about marketing and trying to make them work in the wild west of the internet. 

Today, digital marketing brings in huge amounts of money and is a domain of advertising in its own right. It’s a new enough field that the bar of entry isn’t too exclusive, but certainly some skill is necessary to thrive in it. It’s all brand new, so you might be carving out the field yourself. Read on for a guide to digital marketing as it stands today.


Average Digital Marketer Salary


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Hiring Companies

What Is Digital Marketing?

A digital marketer uses any and all digital channels to build awareness for a brand of product or service. They get the word out on their client’s goods to whomever needs to hear about it. 

Those digital channels could be any online port, including websites, social media, email marketing, what have you. They are also responsible for making sure the client’s search engine rankings are healthy and competitive. They strive to get new customers and leads.

Digital marketing, unlike marketing of the past, focuses heavily on technology to promote products and services. These specializations include social media marketing, search marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), and more. Digital marketing experts and thought leaders constantly find new ways to improve the industry, so these professionals are often learning new skills as technology progresses.

What do Digital Marketers Do?

There are as many possible duties under the heading “digital marketer” as there are online businesses. The jobs also may overlap and work with each other in a variety of ways. Terminology is not always consistent between companies. 

They will be responsible for some or all of any digital campaigns, or efforts to use digital media for some tangible results (not unlike an advertising campaign). A campaign may have many different media involved, such as all the channels mentioned above, plus some tie-in to traditional (print and television) advertising campaigns.

Any marketing actions taken on these channels also need to be measured to see if the effort involved is worth the cost, so the digital marketer uses some form of analytics to track how campaigns are doing. This can involve continually learning about new platforms and means for tracking metrics.

Digital Marketing Job Description and Terminology

Digital marketing involves a variety of tasks from SEO (search engine optimization) to business relations. Since digital marketing is a fairly new career, it brings with it a number of new terms. It’s worth your taking the time to learn them:

SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

This is the practice of increasing the odds of your website appearing at the top of search engine (usually Google) listings when people are looking for your good or service. The practice is not an exact science, due to the secretive nature of Google’s ranking algorithms. But a number of best practices have emerged in the field to increase a site’s visibility and make sure it’s not flagged as spam.

PPC (Pay Per Click)

PPC is when an advertiser pays an online publisher (often, but not always, a search engine like Google) to drive search traffic to their website. This involves a bidding process for certain search words or phrases. For example, if you win the bid on “oil changes in Boston” for your Boston-based garage, your page will appear before others whenever anyone searches for that term.

CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization)

This is the process of increasing the percentage of visitors to a website into customers, whether that means they purchase something or their contact information is acquired (see ‘call to action’ below).

Bounce Rate

This is the rate determined by how long a user stays on your website. A high bounce rate means they get to one page and leave fairly quickly. Obviously, you want users to remain on your site for a while and maybe buy something (see ‘Call to Action’ below), but having them on longer also increases your rankings in search results. 

Call to Action (CTA)

This is when you prompt your users to do something with your site, ideally making a purchase, but it could also just be giving you their email address. 

KPI (Key Performance Indicator)

The KPI is how success is measured in a marketing campaign. It could be a number of clicks, number of sales completed, what have you.


You’ve no doubt seen this term floating around celebrities touting their wares online. An influencer is someone who is sort of a one-person advertising force, who advertises products or services on their social media and has enough of a following to influence purchasing decisions on a large scale. 

B2B (Business to Business) and B2C (Business to Consumer)

Just like they say, these terms refer to what audience your marketing is trying to reach. The strategies and platforms for both can be very different.

Digital Marketing Positions

There are a number of roles involved with digital marketing. Below are a few common titles that companies post openings for. Note that the terminology is still in flux, so one company’s “Social Marketing Manager” might be another’s “Online Presence Coordinator”.

SEO Manager

In this role you’d analyze online content for possible improvements in SEO rankings. This would likely involve a lot of work with Google Analytics or other search analysis tools. 

Content Marketing Specialist

This specialist creates the plan for how to organize and use online channels to get your word out the way you want it. 

Social Media Manager

This person manages the schedule and content of material posted over social media (Facebook, Instagram, etc) channels. 

Digital Marketing Manager

Like a director overseeing everything, in this role you’d make sure all the various digital channels are working together and not at cross-purposes.

What Are the Required Skills for Digital Marketing Careers?

With as wide a range of jobs as digital marketing encompasses, there’s just as wide a range of useful skills. There are some general areas that are useful in any area of digital marketing and can help anyone thrive in it, no matter what form of work you are doing.

Most importantly, you need to be comfortable being in a state of continual learning. Perhaps even more than a software developer, your tool set could change drastically over the course of a few months. If you’re comfortable with that shifting – and able to adapt and learn with it quickly – you’re in a good position for work in the field. This doesn’t just apply to the technology. 

Since some of these jobs didn’t exist a few years ago, expect that completely unheard of titles will appear a few years from now. In fact, once hired in a position, your job my change considerably because of new technology or the newest social media platform that’s taking the world by storm. This requires you to adapt.Digital marketing is new, but it’s still rooted in traditional advertising and marketing. Background working in these fields or coursework in them will help tremendously. As new as it is, you don’t want to reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to.

How Much Do Digital Marketers Make?

The benefit of a new(ish) field is that prospective workers have plenty of opportunities to choose from in employers. Some companies are still playing catching up with digital marketing efforts and realizing the benefits of having in-house experts doing this work. Four out of ten job listings in marketing want digital marketing skills. SEO jobs increased by 43 percent from 2017 to 2018.

The range of positions under the umbrella of digital marketing is wide, making it difficult to get an accurate salary range. That said, surveys are very optimistic with conversion rate optimization rating the highest (over $100,000) and content marketing and SEO work right behind. 

A quick look at shows $57,212 as a national average for job titles under that heading. Do note that one company may have a very different idea of what that job entails than another. 

Keep in mind, digital marketing salaries vary widely based on a number of factors including location, experience, and specialization. To give you a better idea of what to expect in the field, we compiled a list of the average digital marketing salaries in 15 big metro areas in the United States.

Also, keep in mind that some digital marketing professionals earn up to $30,000 or more in bonuses and extra payments, so the average salary numbers don’t always provide the most accurate reflection of reality.

CityAverage Salary
San Francisco, CA$73,303
Los Angeles, CA$59,692
Portland, OR$56,877
New York, NY$62,984
Philadelphia, PA$51,303
Seattle, WA$60,144
Minneapolis, MN$61,891
Atlanta, GA$53,895
Phoenix, AZ$52,729
Boston, MA$60,759
Miami, FL$53,148
Chicago, IL$57,573
Milwaukee, WI$51,949
Cleveland, OH$53,969
Dallas, TX$55,337


Mean Annual Salary


Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)


Number Employed

Digital Marketer Salary by Years of Experience

How to Become a Digital Marketer

In some ways it’s still a wild west when it comes to a digital marketing career. There’s a lot that’s not codified and the playing field is continually changing with new technologies and media. 

For some this can be a daunting thing, but others relish the opportunity to jump into a new field and possibly write some of the rules themselves. If this sounds like a fantastic opportunity for you, a career in digital marketing might be just the thing you want. Consider your local bootcamp for your introduction to the field.

If you want to become a digital marketing professional, it’s best to start by researching the career extensively. After reading up on it, it’s time to find an education program that will teach you the skills to land a digital marketing job and do it well. The most common route into a digital marketing role is through a college or university, but bootcamp programs now offer a proven alternative.

Digital Marketing Learning Paths

Digital Marketing Bootcamps

Coding bootcamps are a new arrival to the world of higher education. And while digital marketing probably doesn’t usually involve much coding (if any), the bootcamp model works just as well. These short-term and intensive programs are designed to teach adults the skills they need to be competitive in the workforce and find a job.


Traditional colleges and universities are a popular and proven way to train for a digital marketing position. Students often graduate with a bachelor’s degree in business or marketing, a master’s degree, or an MBA.


Some digital marketing professionals work their way up through a company and land a job from experience alone. This approach takes time, but it’s very possible to be promoted into the position from another job. However, you likely won’t quickly become ‘marketing certified’ through this route.

What Companies Are Hiring Digital Marketers?


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2020 Best Digital Marketing Bootcamps


Will coding bootcamp help me get a job?

Absolutely! Coding bootcamp is a proven way to train for a job in tech. Many coding bootcamps offer job guarantees, and some refund tuition if graduates can’t find a job in the field they trained for. In fact, coding bootcamp teaches skills that many college computer science graduates lack.

How much do coding bootcamps cost?

Coding bootcamp tuition varies. Coding bootcamps in New York City cost around $10,000 to $20,000. However, many scholarships and tuition deferment programs are available, so what you see doesn’t have to be what you pay.

What are income share agreements?

Income share agreements, or ISAs, are a new way to pay for education. These programs defer tuition until after students graduate and find a job in the industry. Once students are employed and making above a certain income threshold (usually $40-60,000 per year) they begin paying a fixed percent of their income, often for around 2 years. If students can’t find a job, many bootcamps waive the cost of tuition.

Do I have to learn coding to work in the tech industry?

You don’t have to learn coding to work in the tech industry. In fact, there are several non-coding bootcamps in New York City. These programs train you for a position in tech sales, marketing, or product management–all of which are well-paid positions with plenty of advancement opportunity.


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