CMO: Learn more about this MBA career

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An online MBA degree offers a versatile path to students, allowing them to focus on a number of relevant topics in the modern business world. Concentrations provide opportunities for further specialization, including marketing. Raising brand awareness, offering important product information and developing relationships with customers are all key considerations in a world where the internet and social media have brought companies and consumers closer together. Chief marketing officers are valuable leaders in this space, making crucial, high-level decisions that help organizations build their brands and relationships with potential and current customers.

A CMO reviewing data graphs at her desktop computer.

Explaining the role of the chief marketing officer

A CMO is generally the top decision-maker in a business’s marketing department. The people filling this role are executives who regularly interact with other high-level staff. They may offer marketing-specific expertise and information in vital discussions with other department heads, executives, board members, and other high-value stakeholders. It’s important to remember that the CMO position involves a combination of marketing leadership and executive responsibilities, like reporting on departmental vision, goals, operations, challenges, and achievements.

Creating, managing, and realizing marketing goals are key skills of competent CMOs. They are necessary both in the context of developing a vision for marketing operations as well as successfully communicating it to other executives and the members of the marketing department. Staff need effective direction, guidance, and oversight to make sure the marketing strategy is accurately developed and deployed. Strong interpersonal communication skills, attention to detail, and the ability to solicit feedback are all valuable skills for CMOs. Another dimension to consider is the need for a level of comfort in working with data and selecting metrics to measure and report on the success of an overarching strategy or individual campaign. While marketing efforts often lean on creative talent in terms of ideation and development, documenting their performance and comparing different efforts to identify areas of success and best practices are crucial to long-term success as well.

In many ways, the CMO role is focused on balancing many different skills and abilities to be the most effective leader possible. Finding effective paths forward while considering both direct work and delegation as well as creative effort and data analysis is a foundational need.

Chief marketing officer salary and potential career progression

Few, if any, professionals will move into chief marketing officer jobs without building significant experience through related junior positions in sales and marketing. Some common roles include salesperson, sales manager, marketer, marketing manager, and mid-level managerial roles tied to both disciplines. Because a CMO is often the terminal position in a company’s marketing department, businesses want to make sure those who occupy this role have the practical experience to perform at a high level. Those who want to continue an upward career trajectory after becoming a CMO will need to secure another chief executive position or similar role outside of marketing.

An advanced degree, like a Master of Business Administration, is an important asset for those looking to become a CMO. PayScale reports that the majority of businesses require potential CMOs to have earned such a degree if they want to be considered. In many cases, an MBA with a marketing concentration will serve applicants well. After taking a mix of marketing-specific classes and coursework focused on other dimensions of the modern business world, students have a well-rounded knowledge base to draw from and critical insight specific to their chosen field.

In terms of salary, CMOs can expect annual earnings above $100,000 in the vast majority of instances. Data compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated the median yearly salary for top executives in general was $104,700 in 2017, while marketing managers earned a median annual compensation of $129,380. In general terms, pay will be more substantial at larger, established companies. Experience, education, and on-the-job performance will also influence starting salaries and subsequent pay raises.

Taking the next step with the University of Alabama at Birmingham

The University of Alabama at Birmingham helps students work toward earning an online MBA degree in a learning environment that combines flexibility, high-quality instructors, and coursework focused on today’s complex, fast-paced business environment. Students progress through the program at their own pace, allowing them to manage personal and professional responsibilities while advancing their education. Want to learn more about the online MBA program? Get in touch with one of our academic advisors today.

Recommended Reading:

What is pay-per-click marketing?

What is an MBA?


UAB Collat School of Business: Course Descriptions MBA

UAB Collat School of Business: Online MBA Degree Program

Bureau of Labor Statistics: Top Executives

Bureau of Labor Statistics: Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers

PayScale: Chief Marketing Officer Salary