About the advertising and marketing industry

153,000 Employed in this sector

Average income 37,747

Freelancers

What are the skills and skills gaps in advertising and marketing?

As one of the most diverse creative industries when it comes to skills, it’s difficult to pinpoint the most reliable routes in.

Traditional skills like scamping (quickly sketching and developing ideas on paper), copywriting and general communications skills as always well-regarded, as well as confidence and the ability to pitch, present and justify your own ideas.

Digital skills are in extremely high demand. Technologists and engineers aren't usually aware that the advertising industry relies on digital, especially when it comes to new and emerging technology like rapid prototyping, data and behavioural science. It’s a common misconception that you’ll need to be a Photoshop expert, but design and typography skills will help you present your ideas better, even in less design-oriented roles.

What degree subjects are commonly studied?

Many seasoned professionals in the advertising world have non-traditional backgrounds; psychology, language and other more traditional degrees are common. However, those entering the industries today are far more likely to have studied advertising and marketing at degree level, or one of the specialist disciplines like graphic design, photography or art direction.

Most large agencies run a graduate scheme designed to get students up to speed with working in an agency environment and show off some of the overlooked areas of the business, such as public relations, new business and creative technology.

Level 3 qualifications and apprenticeships are getting more and more popular with brand new options opening up every year, including vacancies in design, development and client service. The work experience can be invaluable when it comes to finding employment and freelance opportunities later on, as some boutique agencies don’t tend to employ juniors or entry-level creatives.

How diverse is the workforce?

According to our 2012 census, the gender balance is almost 50/50 in the advertising workforce, much more even that many of the other creative industries. However, it is weaker in terms of diversity, with just 10% BAME representation and 10% identifying as disabled. This is set to improve over the next few years with more and more time and budget being invested in finding talent from diverse and under-represented backgrounds, especially when it comes to applicants with digital skills.

The pool of freelancers that work across within advertising and marketing is much more difficult to analyse, as much of the workforce operate across the creative sectors.

How is the workforce qualified?

More than 70% of the workforce are graduates, but often not in advertising and marketing. With the explosion of new apprenticeships and Level 3 qualifications, this is set to drop further in the future. New specialist qualifications for the sector also make the routes in a lot clearer, especially if you’re already set on a role within the industry.

Where is the workforce based?

At the last count in 2012, just under 50% of the advertising and marketing industry was based in London. However, both South East England and North West England are rapidly growing creative hubs, both with a 10% share of the market. There are agencies spread further afield, and it's not uncommon to find work in Scotland and Wales.

Smaller independent and specialist agencies operating out of shared or temporary space can begin trading very rapidly across the nations thanks to widespread high-speed internet access, and can grow quickly regardless of their location. When larger agencies need consulting work in areas like social media, 3D printing or video content, these smaller agencies can offer a solution, and a starting place for those looking to break into the industry.