Careers in advertising

Searching for your first job in advertising or seeking an apprenticeship? We're here to help you get a head start.

Putting together an ad campaign requires the work of creative talents to plan, design, and write copy, along with business experts to manage sales and track results and, critically, tech savvy geniuses to write code and use the latest AR and VR technologies to deliver campaigns across multiple platforms.

Helping you find out more about careers in advertising

    Advertising is all around us

    Traditional advertising includes TV, radio, cinema, magazines and newspapers, to name but a few. There are ambient ads attached to bikes, taxis, buses, escalators, bus stops, petrol pumps, building sites and even store floors. Sponsorship is another form of advertising – from supporting your local football team to the huge branding opportunities of having your business attached to the World Cup. As well as advertising to consumers (B2C), businesses advertise to other businesses (B2B) in order to pass their products on to consumers. And in the last 10 years, targeted advertising via web and social media has skyrocketed. There’s also experiential – ever been given a free chocolate bar at a train station? Influencers are advertising daily and you are too, when you post a picture of the beach or bar you’ve just visited. Advertising is a huge part of our lives.

    All businesses, charities, celebrities and governments depend on advertising to make themselves known and to relay their latest messages. It could be to show you the benefits of driving electric or to ensure you wash your hands to the tune of happy birthday.  Whatever the reason, there are thousands of talented people working with these companies to ensure their messages are impactful, engaging and delivered in the most convenient and effective way to reach the right people and achieve the commercial objective set out by the company. 

    Where do these talented people work?

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    In Adland. Adland is the name we give to the advertising industry in the UK. It’s a collection of advertising, marketing, digital, branding and media agencies across the country who specialise in creating promotions for clients. These clients could be selling their services, such as a bank, or their products which could be anything from washing powder, a car or even dog food. But they are just as likely to want you to change your behaviour – like public Health England’s Stoptober campaign. Or they could be information-led campaigns that you may be familiar with, such as those relating to Brexit or the NHS’ eat five a day. Or how about influencer campaigns from the likes of Greenpeace, who advertise to help mobilise members of the public to influence and bring about changes in world policies? And let’s not forget celebrity endorsements (influencer campaigns) which are so popular now, some agencies have departments dedicated to this area.

    Underpinning all these types of advertising is Technology and Analysis. Our clients depend on us to use the latest technologies and monitor every single interaction of each customer’s journey.

    The economic performance of the UK advertising industry has a huge impact on our economy. The annual expenditure on advertising is £20 billion and the overall contribution was estimated to be £120 billion or 6.4% of total UK GDP (according to the Advertising Pays 6 report, produced by the Advertising Association.)

    According to Deloitte, almost one million jobs are supported by the advertising industry, which is equivalent to 3.2% of overall nationwide employment.

    This figure is broken down as follows:

    • 350,000 jobs in advertising and in-house (within the brand’s office) production of advertising
    • 76,000 jobs in the media sectors supported by revenue from advertising
    • 560,000 jobs supported by the advertising industry

    Technology is moving fast and providing new ways to reach audiences all the time, so nothing stays still in the world of advertising. 

    Where do I fit in?

    Putting together an ad campaign requires the work of account services teams and planners to liaise with clients and work with agency creative talents to plan, design, and write copy, media experts to plan and place the ads in the relevant space, along with business experts to manage sales and track results and, critically, tech savvy geniuses to write code and use the latest AR and VR technologies to deliver campaigns across multiple platforms.

    Adland is made up of people with different kinds of knowledge and skills; from crunching the numbers, to creating artwork, to programming, coding and strategy, through to writing the perfect words (aka as copy).

    Agency sizes, structures, departments and salaries

    One of the best ways to understand how the advertising world functions is to understand how an advertising agency works. There are many different types of advertising agencies. Some have hundreds of employees, whereas others will have just a handful. 

    The right role for you

    Whatever background you’re from, whatever educational level you’ve achieved, whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, whether your skills lie in art, humanities, STEM subjects, analytics, or if you’re just great at building excellent relationships – advertising could be the right career for you. You can view some sample job descriptions to get an idea of what some roles involve.

    Get your foot in the door

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    It's hard to imagine a career in any industry without first-hand experience. Why not dip your toe in to get a feel for the environment and the work you’ll produce by attending the annual adland open day, Advertising Unlocked

    Some agencies are offering taster programmes for new and diverse talent to remove barriers for people who want to break into the advertising or communications industry but have not had the support or access to do so.

    Starting your search for the perfect role

    There are all kinds of ways to secure a job within the ad industry. Here are some helpful external and internal links.

    Creative Pioneers

    Secure yourself an advertising apprenticeship through this award-winning scheme, led by four of UK media's leading influencers, the IPA, the Creative Industries Council, Arch and Metro.

    Debut

    Download the Debut App. It's dedicated to entry-level jobs, schemes and internships in the industry.

    IPA Members' Job Board

    See the latest job opportunities at IPA member agencies.

    The Dots

    Check out this professional network for people in the advertising industry.

    Creative Equals

    Get in touch with Creative Equals who work with agencies and recruiters to help give creatives from a diverse background the support, mentoring and training they need to make it all the way to the top.

    Brixton Finishing School

    Find out more about Brixton Finishing School that runs a programme for ‘under-represented’ groups in the creative industries (Multi-Cultural, Working Class, NeuroDiverse, Female) to find those with untapped potential.

    Stemnet

    STEMNET creates opportunities to inspire young people in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

    Preparing for an interview

    Preparation is key. Remember that you are the best subject expert on yourself. At interview, expect to be asked about your knowledge of the agency you’re applying for, including knowing about their recent work and the advertising industry at large. Here we give you some tips on how to prepare and commonly asked interview questions.

    FAQs

    Do you need a degree, what is the pay like, what are the hours of work, how diverse is the advertising community and many other questions answered.

    Last updated 09 November 2020