Advertising is firmly entrenched in today's society. As a result, colleges, universities and specialty schools are increasingly offering educational concentrations in the field of advertising. From business schools to art schools, advertising is a field that draws creativity and business-savvy students alike.
Advertising programs are found at most universities and colleges, with similar curriculum outlines. University of Alabama-Tuscaloosa touts its advertising program as being among the country's top 10, with the popularity of its program as a major force in the reevaluation of entry-level criteria for students. "Our best students compete at national and regional advertising campaign competitions. We pride ourselves on preparing broadly educated students with a skill set that can be applied in many areas," says Lance Kinney, Ph.D., an Associate Professor of Advertising and Public Relations for UA's College of Communication.
UA advertising majors begin with an "intro to advertising" class, learn the fundamentals of copywriting and art direction in design class, and prepare their own ads using computers and art design software. UA is among the schools which offer a class in media planning, which Kinney notes is "an increasingly crucial component of advertising management."
A four-year university or college program is likely to have a liberal arts base. For instance at UA, in addition to ad classes, students also take classes in literature, languages, psychology, history, or sociology. Many minor in complimentary fields such as general business, marketing, art and photography.
Advertising programs also exist at major art academies, including the Art Institute of Phoenix-Arizona. The art school stresses both the creative and business side in its advertising program. "Advertising combines the creative mind and the logical mind into innovative forms of communication through television, billboards, radio, internet, print, and other forms of media," notes Gil Mejia, the Assistant Academic Director for Advertising and Graphic Design at AI-P.
AI-P offers a career-driven curriculum and culture for advertising students, offering an ACICS-accredited education in both creative and business aspects of advertising, Mejia says. AI-P students learn the basic skills used by the graphic designer, the photographer, video/audio producer, and web designer, along with a base in the advertising, marketing and communications side of the business.
"People in an advertising career should be motivated, hard working individuals who like to make things happen. They should enjoy working in a team of creative individuals to create a message that brings results to an advertising client," says Mejia.
To prepare students for the team-driven atmosphere of the advertising industry, advertising coursework often requires teamwork in pairs or larger groups. "Campaigns are rarely the work of a single person, so it's important to learn how to work as part of a collective," Kinney says.
Most advertising education programs conclude with students developing a large-scale campaign for a single client, Kinney says. Like many schools, UA solicits client participants in its advertising programs, which Kinney notes allows student the chance to "work on genuine business problems."
Getting started in advertising can be tough, as the entire industry is subject to larger economic forces, Kinney says. "Still, the rapid growth of media outlets means that there are demands for skilled, professional communicators." AI-P graduates are prepared for an entry level position in advertising, marketing and communications. "We have a unique flavor to the program as we instill creative along with the business," Mejia says.
Students interested in careers in advertising are in luck. "The market is really endless," Mejia enthuses. He ticks off a list of just a few markets with a wide variety of advertising positions: agencies, marketing firms, private owned companies, television stations, radio stations and corporations. "They could become account executives, sales reps, branders, marketing managers, public relation directors, researchers, buyers, copywriters. The list goes on..." notes Mejia. "The job market is only limited by your desire."
National advertising organizations -- American Advertising Federation (AAF), Advertising Education Foundation (AEF), and the American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA) - are available as resources to advertising students. These and other professional organizations typically offer both professional and student memberships. Organizations offer data on all aspects of the ad business, as well as advertising award and scholarship opportunities. The American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) also offers information about art-specific advertising opportunities.
Regional and local advertising groups also exist. In Phoenix, for instance, there is the Phoenix Ad Club as well as Ad2, geared toward younger adults. "These organizations are great for networking and becoming familiar with your peers in the industry," Mejia says.
Those with a desire for an advertising career can enjoy success, Mejia says. "Be motivated, be creative, be a leader. Enjoy the process as it will be rewarding in the end."
Jennifer Chiariello contributed to this report.