Commercial Advertising Jobs: Options and Requirements

Oct 11, 2019

Commercial advertising jobs include being an account executive, who promotes their agency to potential clients and works with existing clients on advertising campaigns, or being a media planner, who also works with the clients and focuses on determining the best forms of media to use to reach the client's target audience. Copywriters write the text for commercials or advertisements, and art directors are in charge of the artists who produce the visual content for the advertisements.

Essential Information

Commercial advertising agencies have a staff of creative professionals working together to create advertisements for a company's products and services. Among the many career paths are Account Executive, Copywriter, Art Director, and Media Planner.

Career Account Executive Copywriter Art Director Media Planner
Education Requirements Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 3% 0% 1% 6%
Median Salary (2018)* $117,130 $62,170 $95,130 $60,000

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Account Executive

Advertising account executives work as the liaisons between an advertising agency and its clients. They are responsible for promoting and selling the agency's services to clients and working closely with the clients' advertising managers.

Account executives rely upon their agency's departments to research the clients' products and target audiences in order to create an effective concept for an advertising campaign. Executives then present the advertising materials to the clients and are responsible for negotiating changes and successfully implementing the new campaigns.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports a 3% increase in demand over the 2018-2028 decade for advertising and promotions managers, who perform duties similar to both account executives and media planners. These professionals earned a median of $117,130 annually in May of 2018, according to data from the BLS.


Copywriters create advertisements using words to convey images and attitudes. They generate ideas for advertising in media such as brochures, television or radio commercials, websites and other types of materials used in advertising. Copywriters need to be flexible and creative in order to meet changing client strategies and adapt messages to new media.

Copywriters are included in the BLS category of writers and authors, and opportunities for these professionals are not expected to increase between 2018 and 2028, as predicted by the BLS. The BLS' figures also reveal the median salary for all writers and authors was $62,170 in 2018. The average salary for writers in the advertising and public relations field in particular was $75,880.

Art Director

Art directors oversee the visual images and concepts used in advertising campaigns that appear in magazines and newspapers, on book covers and television. They are responsible for managing the design department in advertising agencies. Art directors work closely with photographic editors and copy editors to coordinate photographic images with printed text.

In 2018, art directors in advertising, public relations and related services earned a median of $95,130 annually, as reported by the BLS. The BLS predicts a one percent growth in opportunities for all art directors from 2018 to 2028.

Media Planner

Media planners, also known as brand planners or strategists, work at advertising agencies to create advertisement campaigns for clients. Media planners work with copywriters and illustrators to develop advertisements. However, the most of their work time is spent with clients deciding the direction of media campaigns. A large component of the media planner's job is to determine which media can best reach a client's audience.

Job Requirements for Commercial Advertisers

Account Executive

Prospective advertising account executives must have completed at least a bachelor's degree to enter the field. Most account executives major in advertising, marketing or business administration. Although advanced degrees are not prerequisites for the job, many large advertising firms prefer to hire candidates with a master's degree in business administration. Strong skills in writing, research, public speaking and organizational leadership are necessary for a person interested in becoming a successful advertising account executive candidate.


Although a bachelor's degree is not required to become a copywriter, a degree in journalism, marketing, advertising or English can be beneficial. Most agencies prefer to hire candidates with formal education for advanced positions in the field. Therefore, aspiring copywriters may want to consider obtaining a bachelor's degree. However, some copywriters have been able to gain employment based on their talent and skills gained from stand-alone writing courses. Ultimately, writing skills are the most important criterion for employment.

Art Director

Most art directors have earned bachelor's degrees in graphic design, drawing and photography from an art school. Though a degree is not required to become an art director, those who have earned one generally are trained in specialized graphic design software and have worked as graphic designers. For advancement in the field, it is recommended that prospective art directors complete a bachelor's degree program related to graphic design.

Media Planner

There is no degree program designed specifically for media planners. However, media planners need a solid educational foundation. Bachelor's degree programs suited for media planners include media, advertising and marketing. Classes in communication and psychology might also benefit aspiring media planners. Since this career involves working closely with other professionals, planners should be skilled at working with people and communicating effectively.

All careers in the field of commercial advertising require a bachelor's degree. Art directors may study graphic design or photography, while copywriters may pursue a degree in journalism or English. Some of the options media planners and advertising account executives may consider studying are marketing or advertising.

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