Approximately 133,110 advertising sales agents and 25,260 advertising and promotions managers are employed in the United States. Most advertising workers are employed by advertising agencies that plan and prepare advertising material for their clients on a commission or service-fee basis. However, some large companies and nearly all department stores prefer to handle their own advertising. Advertising workers in such organizations prepare advertising materials for in-house clients, such as the marketing or catalog department. They also may be involved in the planning, preparation, and production of special promotional materials, such as sales brochures, articles describing the activities of the organization, or Web sites. Some advertising workers are employed by owners of various media, including newspapers, magazines, radio and television networks, and outdoor advertising. Workers employed in these media are mainly sales representatives who sell advertising space or broadcast time to advertising agencies or companies that maintain their own advertising departments.
In addition to agencies, large companies, and department stores, advertising services and supply houses employ such advertising specialists as photographers, prepress workers, printers, product and package designers, display producers, and others who assist in the production of various advertising materials.
The American Association of Advertising Agencies served more than 600 member agencies (1,200 offices) that collectively controlled about about 85 percent of advertising spending in the United States. Large firms located in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles tend to dominate the industry. One in five firms and one in four people in the industry live in either California or New York. However, most organizations employ fewer than 10 people. These "small shops" offer employment opportunities for account executives with experience, talent, and flexibility.
Although competition for advertising jobs is fierce and getting your foot in the door can be difficult, there are a variety of ways to launch a career in the field. Some large advertising agencies recruit college graduates and place them in training programs designed to acquaint beginners with all aspects of advertising work, but these opportunities are limited and highly competitive.
Instead, many graduates simply send resumes to businesses that employ entry-level advertising workers. Newspapers, radio and television stations, printers, photographers, and advertising agencies are but a few of the businesses that will hire beginners.
Those who have had work experience in sales positions often enter the advertising field as account executives. High school graduates and other people without experience who want to work in advertising, however, may find it necessary to begin as clerks or assistants to research and production staff members or to copywriters.
The career path in an advertising agency generally leads from trainee to skilled worker to division head and then to department head. It may also take employees from department to department, allowing them to gain more responsibility with each move. Opportunities abound for those with talent, leadership capability, and ambition.
Management positions require experience in all aspects of advertising, including agency work, communication with advertisers, and knowledge of various advertising media. Copywriters, account executives, and other advertising agency workers who demonstrate outstanding ability to deal with clients and supervise coworkers usually have a good chance of advancing to management positions. Other workers, however, prefer to acquire specialized skills. For them, advancement may mean more responsibility, the opportunity to perform more specialized tasks, and increased pay.
Advertising workers at various department stores, mail-order houses, and other large firms that have their own advertising departments can also earn promotions. Advancement in any phase of advertising work is usually dependent on the employee's experience, training, and demonstrated skills.
Some qualified copywriters, artists, and account executives establish their own agencies or become marketing consultants. For these entrepreneurs, advancement may take the form of an increasing number of accounts and/or more prestigious clients.
Tips for Entry
The American Association of Advertising Agencies offers an advertising agency search engine at its Web site, https://ams.aaaa.org/eweb/contentwp.aspx?webcode=findagency. Use it to search for potential job leads.
Visit the following Web sites for job listings:
Participate in internships or part-time jobs that are arranged by your college’s career services office or professional associations. The American Advertising Federation offers information on its internship programs at https://www.aaf.org.
Join professional associations to access training and networking resources, industry publications, and employment opportunities.
Conduct information interviews with advertising workers and ask them for advice on landing a job.