Gaining a professional marketing qualification is that extra step to help you turn your knowledge of marketing into expertise. Whether you’re a graduate who’s thinking about how to stand out in the job hunt, or a student looking to get a headstart - this guide will show you the top professional marketing qualifications that companies and marketing agencies are after.
The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM)
A CIM qualification is most commonly taken after the completion of a marketing (or equivalent) degree, and over a third of graduates with a CIM get promoted or receive a pay rise within 12 months of graduating. The Chartered Institute of Marketing offers various qualifications, ranging from level 3 to level 7 - which is the equivalent of a Master’s degree.
For students or recent graduates, CIM has two level 3 Foundation Certificates to choose from - Professional Marketing and Professional Digital Marketing, depending on the career path you’re after. The Professional Marketing qualification focuses on two modules - marketing principles and communications in practice, while the Digital Marketing qualification focuses on marketing principles and digital fundamentals. For this qualification, there are no previous marketing requirements, so this is a great stepping stone for students going to university or graduates looking to enhance their knowledge.
CIM’s level 4 qualifications are applicable for recent graduates with one year’s industry experience or those who have achieved one of the level 3 foundation certificates above. This qualification will build on your solid marketing skills that will allow you to professionally progress into your marketing career and perform at an operational level within a marketing department.
Institute of Data & Marketing (IDM)
The Institute of Data & Marketing uses data and the UK marketing community to create an offline portfolio of courses, qualifications and training that offers the latest, high-quality skills and insights you need to succeed in this sector. Firstly, IDM offers two main diplomas: a Professional Diploma and a Postgraduate Diploma. The Professional Diploma is a level 6 digital marketing qualification, perfect for someone with 18 months+ experience in the field, however, there are no specific requirements to join. The Postgraduate Diploma is also focused on digital marketing and is said to be their most challenging course. At level 7, this diploma is equivalent to a Master’s degree - with specific interests in marketing strategy, financial analysis, brand building and customer insight.
They also offer certificate qualifications in advanced digital copywriting and social media - equivalent to level 5. You don’t need specific requirements to apply, and these certificates can be completed online with individual coaching and real-life tasks within ten weeks. The IDM online marketing courses (also called ‘awards’) are another big hit. These are foundation to advanced levels, with no required qualifications, and there are various options to choose from, like affiliate marketing, a guide to Google Analytics, social media strategy and copywriting. The certificate and awards qualifications would be great for students and graduates going into the field.
The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA)
The IPA provides the advertising and marketing sector with tools and resources to help agencies and their members create effective marketing campaigns with no setbacks. The IPA’s award-winning courses specialise in a range of topics, such as the fundamentals of branding and communication planning.
Their most popular certification is IPA’s Foundation Certificate. This qualification is perfect for a graduate with less than a year’s experience in a marketing role. Although this course is taught through 30 hours of online learning and a formal 2-hour exam, you’ll receive an in-depth overview of all the areas of advertising, be able to understand consumers and their motivations and become more confident with writing strategies that sell in different types of media.
Don’t forget, you’ll receive a digital certification at the end which is a great addition to your CV or LinkedIn and shows future employers that you’ve gone the extra mile to expand your skills.
Read our article on 5 top tips for creating a great marketing or creative CV for more ideas on how to stand out.
How would I fund a professional marketing qualification?
These professional marketing qualifications can be expensive to fund alone, especially if you’re a student or graduate. That being said, they can be funded through your educational establishment or employer, depending on available funds. Top marketing and PR graduate employers are more likely to offer funding towards a professional marketing qualification, so it’s worth asking any potential employers if they offer these types of professional development opportunities.
Does a degree count as a professional marketing qualification?
A degree in a marketing or related field is technically not a professional marketing qualification. Many degrees in this field are more academic-based and have a research-oriented focus on a specific field of study e.g. digital marketing. Professional qualifications are applied to specific job roles and are available for you to reach a greater skill level or apply for higher-paid roles whereas a degree can be adapted and applied to a variety of different career paths.
Where can a professional marketing qualification take me?
A professional marketing qualification can show future employers that you have a highly regarded qualification from a prestigious institution, which demonstrates that you are committed to a career in the sector. Professional marketing qualifications can be a great leg-up in the industry and offer a competitive edge when it comes to interviews and showing off your skills. If you’re already in a professional marketing environment, qualifications like these can help you professionally progress in your career - people with professional marketing qualifications are more likely to climb the ladder more quickly.
Find out where a career in marketing could take you by looking at our list of Marketing graduate programmes today.