Careers in Advertising FAQs

Your questions answered

Do I 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.

Advertising FAQs

    Do I need a degree?

    No. There are many routes into the industry, and having a degree is just one of them.

    Though it varies by agency, it’s often the case that individual agencies have their own work placement programmes which may lead to full time roles, or they may be one of the many that take on apprentices. Many agencies also partner with the Brixton Finishing School, The Dots and Stemnet to access a broader reach of candidates with more diverse backgrounds.

    What is the pay like?

    Most agencies participate in the annual IPA salary survey to make sure that they are in keeping with the market. Like all businesses, agencies work to a salary budget and will endeavor to pay for performance.

    What are the hours of work?

    Most agencies, like all other organisations have core working hours. Sometimes though, you may have to work outside of these hours depending on what is going on in the agency at any given time. If there is a lot of new business activity going on, you may find yourself supporting the teams as they prepare for the pitch. The pitch may run simultaneously with a high work load. Agencies are known for their collaboration and people will support each other’s teams to deliver quality work at this time.

    How diverse is the advertising community?

    Like many industries there is work to be done in this area. The IPA are actively working with the industry to raise awareness and provide practical steps to support agencies. The IPA also partners with Creative Equals and others to keep this focus alive. Individual agencies may also have their own diversity and inclusivity plans in place. Many are undertaking Unconscious Bias training and ensuring that all hiring managers are trained.

    In 2019, in partnership with Unilever, the IPA launched an inclusivity initiative called iList. Our aim is to galvanise the industry into becoming a more inclusive, diverse place to work, and to do this we wanted to identify, celebrate and highlight the work being done already in this space by innovative individuals. Thirty-three game changers made our inaugural iList. You can find out what initiatives they are involved in by checking the out in the Campaign Supplement celebrating their achievements back in March 2020.

    Are all agencies in London?

    Some larger agencies are primarily in London but there are also agencies around the UK. Some of these are independent and some are part of the larger group networks. A full list of these can be found on the IPA members' agencies finder.

    What’s the difference between a media agency and a creative agency?

    A media agency will typically focus on the placement of the created content into the many channels. Their media buyers will negotiate and trade TV/Radio/Cinema/Print/Digital space for the optimum placement and impact.

    However, some media agencies also have a content studio. Some creative agencies have media buying teams - it can be a blended mix.

    Creative agencies typically do as it suggests; they create the content. This may be a film, a script, photography asset and sound recordings to name but a few.

    What is the general office dress code?

    You may only see a jacket on pitch day! Agencies are relaxed places where smart T shirts and jeans are the order of the day. You don’t need to spend money on a suit or a blazer, unless you would like to of course. The agency uniform, especially for designers is often black. You can also express your individuality and creativity in your clothes and anything goes, most of the time!

    What industry magazines should I subscribe to?

    Industry publications include; The Drum, Adage, Campaign, Little Black Book, Adweek, How Magazine, Fast Company, The Next web, Digiday, Inc and Forbes to connect with the Marketeers.  Agencies will often take out subscriptions for the whole agency to read.  Have a chat with the marketing/new business team and see if they will share their copy with you.

    And here’s a few popular blogs and publications that you might find interesting:

    Are there development opportunities?

    Your career is your responsibility to own and shape and to say what you need as you progress.

    Here are some things you can do:

    1. Continue to build your portfolio and keep it up to date. Even if you do not have creative output you can keep a list of your quarterly achievements. It is more practical to keep track of these on a regular basis than doing the annual round up.
    2. Be curious about the role and the competencies about the role above you. Ask for a copy of the role above you so that you know what you are aiming for. Complete an objective self-review; ask some colleagues for feedback and discuss this with your line manager.
    3. Schedule a feedback session with your manager with an agreed level of frequency.
    4. Build and maintain your internal and external network. It is never too soon to start developing your connections. Start today!
    Last updated 01 May 2024