Media Planners and Buyers


Education and Training Requirements

High School

Although most media positions, including those at the entry level, require a bachelor's degree, you can prepare for a future job as media planner and/or buyer by taking specific courses offered at the high school level. These include business, computer science, marketing, advertising, cinematography, radio and television, and film and video. General liberal arts classes, such as economics, English, communication, and journalism, are also important, since media planners and buyers must be able to communicate clearly with both clients and coworkers. In addition, mathematics classes will give you the skills to work accurately with budget figures and placement costs.

Postsecondary Training

Media planners and buyers often have degrees in marketing or advertising. Even if you have prior work experience or training in media, you should select college classes that provide a good balance of business course work, broadcast, online, and print experience, and liberal arts studies.

Business classes may include economics, marketing, sales, and advertising. In addition, courses that focus on specific media, such as cinematography, film and video, radio and television, and new technologies (like the Internet), are important. Additional classes in journalism, English, and speech will prove helpful as well. Media directors often need to have a master's degree, as well as extensive experience working with the various media.

Other Education or Training

The American Association of Advertising Agencies offers the Institute of Advanced Advertising Studies, 13- to 16-week courses that teach advertising professionals about topics such as positioning and branding, team building, the media landscape, and presentation skills. The American Association of Advertising Agencies, American Marketing Association, the Interactive Advertising Bureau, and the Marketing Research Association also offer webinars, workshops, and other continuing education opportunities. Contact these organizations for more information.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

The Interactive Advertising Bureau offers the digital media sales certification to candidates who meet education and experience requirements and pass an examination. Contact the bureau for more information.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Students should obtain as much experience in the field as possible by participating in summer internships, co-ops, and part-time jobs at advertising agencies or radio or television networks.

Media planners and buyers in broadcasting should have a keen understanding of programming and consumer buying trends, as well as knowledge of each potential client's business. Print media specialists must be familiar with the process involved in creating print ads and the markets reached by various publications. Interactive media specialists must be experts in online advertising strategies and ad delivery formats. In addition, all media workers need to be capable of maintaining good relationships with current clients, as well as pursuing new clients on a continual basis.

Communication and problem solving skills are important, as are creativity, common sense, patience, and persistence. Media planners and buyers must also have excellent oral, written, and analytical skills, knowledge of interactive media planning trends and tools, and the ability to handle multiple assignments in a fast-paced work environment. Strategic thinking skills, industry interest, and computer experience with both database and word processing programs are also vital.