Marketing vs. Business Management: Which Is Right for Me?

illustration of a business man deciding between management and marketing

It’s easy to understand the appeal of a business degree. Businesses large and small are the driving force behind our economy, and the skills you learn in a business program can be applied to a wide variety of industries and niches.

That wide range of utility is also reflected in the variety of specialized business degree programs out there. There are several specializations that fall under the umbrella of business for would-be students to potentially pursue. It’s time to explore your options so you can narrow down what’s the right fit for you.

Two popular specialized business degree options that may come to mind are marketing and business management. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at both.

Marketing vs. Business Management: Basics to note

There’s a lot to compare if you’re making a decision between a marketing degree or a business management degree. The classes you’ll take, the types of jobs associated with each and the work you’ll eventually be doing are all worth considering.

Keep in mind that while we’re trying to draw a contrast between marketing and business management, there’s still a significant overlap between the two, and there’s not always a clear dividing line in practice. For example, someone with a Business Management degree can find employment in a marketing-related role, and someone with a Marketing degree can certainly find themselves in a management position.

These business degrees are a foundation for you to build your career upon—not a predetermined path with little room for adjustment. As you grow in your career, you also have the ability to supplement your expertise with professional development training or even a graduate degree, like a Master of Business Administration.

Marketing vs. Business Management: Typical job duties

First things first, you need to understand the key differences between these business specializations. Though both marketers and managers typically share a goal of growing their organization, the daily job duties for roles under these categories can differ quite a bit.

Marketing job duties

A marketing professional is concerned with making sure people know about their business, product or service. They work to bringing in new customers or clients and make sure existing customers continue to stick around. “Marketing is all about brainstorming ways to attract a target audience and measuring responses,” says Jason Hawkins of Advertising for Surgeons.

This involves a unique blend of analysis and creativity. “You are mixing art and science,” Hawkins says. Though different marketing roles will have a different balance of creativity and analysis, most marketers can expect to use some amount of brainstorming and “thinking outside the box” combined with measuring data to determine which strategies were most successful.

Some marketing job titles you may encounter include:

  • Digital marketing specialist
  • Marketing coordinator
  • Market research analyst
  • Marketing project manager
  • Social media marketer
  • Brand manager

Management job duties

Business management roles involve overseeing and leading teams of employees to accomplish specific goals within a company. As leaders, their goal is to keep their employees motivated and satisfied at work while still meeting various targets, such as financial goals. They also hire and train new team members.

Like marketers, business managers need to crunch the numbers sometimes, such as when identifying inefficiencies in their company’s operations, according to Hawkins. They’ll then use this data to help their team reach targets for financial goals and project timelines.

As you’ll see from the below job titles, business managers may oversee specific areas of an organization, or they may have a broader focus. Some possible job titles include:

  • Sales manager
  • Business analyst
  • Administrative (or office) manager
  • Supply chain manager
  • Production manager
  • Operations manager

Marketing vs. Business Management: Job growth outlook and salaries

No one wants to go into a field without decent job opportunities. Luckily, both marketing and business management have a positive career growth outlook.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that management occupations are projected to grow in employment by five percent from 2019 to 2029—a rate that’s faster than the national average and that will result in a projected 505,000 new jobs.1 Certain marketing careers are projected to see an even faster growth rate, with market research analyst careers projected to grow by 18 percent through 2029!1

You might also be curious about the salary potential of these fields. Once again, there’s good news: Market research analysts earned a median annual salary of $65,810 in 2020, according to the BLS.1 Looking to more advanced marketing careers, the BLS reports the 2020 median annual salary for marketing and promotions managers is $141,490.1

Management careers in general earned the highest median annual salaries of all occupation groups in 2019 at $109,760.1 There is some variation in pay depending upon the industry a manager works in. For example, sales managers earned a median annual salary of $132,290 while administrative managers earned a median annual salary of $98,890 per year.1 This comparatively high salary number should be kept in context though—most management positions require extensive work experience, so compensation will reflect this.

Marketing vs. Business Management: What you’ll learn

Many marketing- and business-management-related positions require a Bachelor’s degree to get started. Although every employer will have their own qualification requirements, it’s best to be prepared for the field by being ready with a degree in hand.

Which begs the question: What exactly will you learn in each of these degree programs? Whether you specialize in marketing or management, you’ll develop a solid foundation of business skills with courses on topics like business statistics and strategic management. However, as you get further along into your degree program, the courses you take will narrow in on the work you’ll be responsible for in your chosen career.

Marketing course examples:

  • Consumer Behavior
  • Marketing Research
  • Strategic Sales and Sales Management
  • Marketing Law and Ethics

Business Management course examples:

  • Managing a Diverse Workforce
  • Business Project Management
  • Organizational Behavior Analysis
  • Leadership and Management Essentials

Marketing vs. Business Management: The field that’s best suited for you

You have a basic understanding of the facts about these two business specializations, but you might still be on the fence about which is the best option for you. When it comes to marketing versus business management, which is the best fit for your natural interests and skills?

“Those who thrive off data may enjoy marketing roles better than those who enjoy talking to people,” Hawkins says. “Those that are creative and at the same time love the idea of tweaking until perfection should enjoy marketing.”

Marketing roles often involve trying a new idea, evaluating the results and making a small change before trying it again. If you have the drive to continue repeating a process until it’s the best it can be, marketing may be the role for you.

Business management, on the other hand, tends to involve much more interaction with others alongside data analysis. “Business management roles are great for problem-solvers who can deal with multiple types of personalities,” Hawkins says.

If you’re a natural people person and a great active listener who is able to motivate others and lead by example, you could be a good candidate for a business management career.

Lay the foundation for a business career

There is no one-size-fits-all answer for finding what’s the best option between these two focus areas. Both options can set the stage for a successful career—so dig in, and start your research. No matter which of these business degree options you’re leaning towards, Rasmussen University has flexible online program for you.

Learn more about your options at Rasmussen University by visiting the Business Management degree programs page or the Marketing degree programs page.

1Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, [accessed March 2021] https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/home.htm and https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/market-research-analysts.htm. Information represents national, averaged data for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries, and employment conditions in your area may vary.

About the author

Ashley Brooks

Ashley is a freelance writer for Collegis education who writes student-focused articles on behalf of Rasmussen University. She believes in the power of words and knowledge and enjoys using both to encourage others on their learning journeys

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