The 10 Most In-Demand Marketing Certifications for 2021

A seated young woman holding a marketing certification in one hand and a laptop in her lap


Many employers are looking for professionals who have specific marketing certifications. Other digital marketing specialists are becoming certified to stay current in a rapidly evolving industry. This article will look at the leading academic marketing certifications, along with the most in-demand marketing certifications.

Initially, to find hard data for this article, we scoured the job sites for facts. With an absence of data about the monetary value of certifications, we did the next best thing. We dove deep into the job sites to find the most requested certification prerequisites, and were able to obtain a much better understanding of the most in-demand certifications. 

Digital Marketing Specialists Are in High Demand

Marketing specialists are in high demand, and that is not expected to change in the next five years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a market research analyst and/or marketing specialist can expect to make $65,810 per year, up from $62,000 in 2018. A marketing manager, on the other hand, can expect to make $141,490 per year, or $68.03 per hour. The demand for digital marketing specialists continues to grow, with an increase of 19.6% since 2006, according to the Payscale Index report on marketing and advertising.

According to Robert Half Technologies’ 2021 Salary Guide, the difference between the salaries of an entry-level Marketing Manager with no certifications and an experienced Marketing Manager with professional certifications is approximately $43,000, with the entry-level position paying $67,000 and the certified position paying $116,500. The same is true for a Digital Marketing Specialist, with the entry-level position paying $47,750 and the certified position paying $94,000. Clearly, having specialty certifications can pay dividends. 

Typically, there are academic marketing courses designed to teach the basics of digital marketing or further the education of someone who is currently employed in a marketing role, and then there are digital marketing certification courses that are more likely to be prerequisites for employment with certain businesses. One will rarely find a job listing that requires prospective candidates to be certified by the Kellogg School of Management, however one is very likely to encounter job listings that require candidates to be Google AdWords certified. We will first look at such academic certifications, then move on to so-called “prerequisite” certifications. 

Kyle Shea, executive vice president of Partnership Development at All Campus, told CMSWire that these academic courses are primarily designed to appeal to people who are seeking a new career in digital marketing and provide a broad, base understanding of each discipline. “In more specialized digital marketing certificates, the course content is focused on one or two areas in order to provide students with a deeper understanding of each,” he said.

Shea said these academic courses are offered part-time “and typically take from two to six months to complete with a commitment of three to eight hours per week of work.”

Related Article: Learning to Adapt to the Pandemic-Induced Educational Crisis

Kellogg School of Management’s Digital Marketing Strategies 

Certifications can be a great indication of an individual who has demonstrated proficiency in competencies that indicate they can perform a job or task to expectations. Additionally, while a staple of digital marketing certifications have become job prerequisites and requirements for promotion, many marketers are pursuing additional education, training, and certifications for personal development purposes, and certification courses are an excellent method of continuing one’s education. 

“Certifications can be a great addition to any education program as customers who are proficient in your organization’s tools are likely to get much more out of them, leading to increased retention, loyalty, and advocacy,” said Greg Rose, chief experience officer at Intellum, a leading education platform provider.

Rose clearly understands how effective online courses function. His company, Intellum, actually invented the customer education platform for Facebook Blueprint, which serves as a proven model for how digital certifications should work. “With the inclusion of well-known certifications such as Kellogg School of Management’s Digital Marketing Strategies, there are several long-running certification programs that touch millions of users, such as Google Skill Shop, Twitter Flight School, and Amazon Advertising Console.”

The 2-month long Digital Marketing Strategies: Data, Automation, AI & Analytics course is described as teaching marketing professionals and business leaders “how modern marketing is powered by data, scaled by automation, and optimized by analytics.” The course costs $2600, and Kellogg offers a payment plan. The goal of the course is to provide professionals with a practical understanding of what modern marketing practice looks like from an organizational perspective.

The course consists of 8 modules, which are taught from a high-level strategic view:

  • A Framework for Marketing in a Digital World
  • Understanding Customers and Generating Insights
  • Customer Segmentation and Behavioral Marketing
  • The Customer Journey and Content Strategy
  • Brand Storytelling in a Digital World
  • Accelerating Marketing Execution Through Agile Marketing
  • Marketing Attribution, Testing, and Experimentation
  • Marketing Automation and Artificial Intelligence in Marketing

Upon successful completion of the course, Kellogg Executive Education provides a verified digital certificate of completion to graduating students, who must achieve at least an 80% success rate in order to pass the course.

The Digital Marketing Institute’s Digital Marketing Certification

The Digital Marketing Institute offers four digital marketing courses which range in length from 30 hours all the way to 2 years. When a student passes the Pro or Expert course, they are certified by both the Digital Marketing Institute, as well as the American Marketing Association. 

Their Digital Marketing Pro course lasts 30 hours, is self-paced, and costs $1368. This course is actually two certifications in one: the Digital Marketing Institute’s Professional Certificate in Digital Marketing, and the American Marketing Association’s Professional Certified Marketer. Encompassing 10 modules, this certification is geared towards marketers working in Management and Senior Management. The modules consist of the following topics:

  • Introduction to Digital Marketing
  • Content Marketing
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Paid Search (PPC) using Google Ads
  • Display and Video Advertising
  • Email Marketing
  • Website Optimization
  • Analytics with Google Analytics
  • Digital Marketing Strategy

Their Digital Marketing Expert course is also two courses in one: the Digital Marketing Institute’s Certified Digital Marketing Expert course and the American Marketing Association’s PCM Advanced Digital Marketing course. This certification (actually two certifications) costs $4109, and consists of 7 modules:

  • Strategy and Planning
  • CX, Ecommerce and CRO
  • Search and Digital Channels
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Digital Selling
  • Essential Skills
  • Leadership and Management

The DMI’s digital marketing certifications must be recertified every three years by earning approved marketing continuing education units.

The OMCP Digital Marketing Certification

Unlike the other certifications we have discussed, OMCP certification has several unique requirements, including passing scores on the OMCP exams and 5,000 hours of marketing experience (which can be from any marketing job, traditional marketing, copywriting, advertising, selling marketing services, etc), a post-secondary degree plus 2,000 hours of marketing experience, or completion of an approved digital marketing course plus 1,000 hours of marketing experience.

To receive the OMCP certification, the student must pass two specialty exams and one broad-spectrum digital marketing exam. The content of the OMCP exams includes the following topics:

  • Content Marketing
  • Conversion Rate Optimization
  • Email Marketing (included within OMCA and OMCP Base exams only)
  • Mobile Marketing (included within OMCA and OMCP Base exams only)
  • Paid Search (PPC)
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Digital Analytics

While there is no OMCP course to prepare the student for the exams, there is a list of digital marketing courses that are approved by OMCP, and students are expected to spend at least 64 didactic hours taking the courses. The OMCP exams cost $395 for all three parts, and they must be passed every two years for the certification to remain valid. 

The Google Digital Garage: Fundamentals of Digital Marketing

Google Garage’s Fundamentals of Digital Marketing certification is accredited by Interactive Advertising Bureau Europe and The Open University. It consists of 26 modules that cover topics such as:

  • The Online Opportunity
  • Your First Steps in Online Success
  • Build Your Web Presence
  • Plan Your Online Business Strategy
  • Get Started With Search
  • Get Discovered With Search
  • Make Search Work for You
  • Be Noticed With Search Ads
  • Improve Your Search Campaigns
  • Get Noticed Locally
  • Help People Nearby Find You Online
  • Get Noticed With Social Media
  • Dive Deep Into Social Media
  • Discover the Possibilities of Mobile
  • Make Mobile Work for You
  • Get Started With Content Marketing
  • Connect Through Email
  • Advertise on Other Websites
  • Deep Dive Into Display Advertising
  • Make the Most of Video
  • Get Started With Analytics
  • Find Success With Analytics
  • Turn Data Into Insights
  • Build Your Online Shop
  • Sell More Online
  • Expand Internationally 

The Fundamentals of Digital Marketing certification course is free, and takes approximately 14 hours to complete. Once all modules have been completed, Google will provide the student with a certificate of completion. One of the benefits of Google certification is that Google now requires that brands have at least one Google certified employee in order for the business to receive Google Certified Partner status. Beginning in 2021, at least half of a brand’s “eligible users” need to be Google certified. This means that employees that are Google certified are more valuable to a brand. Google requires recertification after 12 months. 

Content Marketing Institute’s Master Class Certification

The Content Marketing Institute’s Master Class course has 10 modules (30+ hours of curriculum), and also includes access to over 20 additional marketing-related classes. The 10 modules are focused on the following topics:

  • What Is a Content Marketing Strategy
  • Balancing a Content Marketing Strategy
  • The Operating Models of Content
  • Bringing It Together: The Context Case Study
  • Investing In Audiences v s. Buyers
  • The Four Strategic Archetypes of Content
  • Story & Narrative: The Heart of Business Storytelling
  • Bringing It Together: The Context Case Study Part II
  • Measurement By Design
  • Story Map Your Operation 

The Master Class course costs $995, is self-paced, and students are given 12 months to complete the course. 

The SMEI Certified Professional Marketer Course

Sales & Marketing Executives International, known as SMEI, offers what they call the SMEI Certified Professional Marketer (SCPM) Exam Preparatory Course. The course registration fee of $989 includes one year of access to Connect, where students can access their online textbook, chapter quizzes, and interactive exercises. The course consists of 18 modules:

Part 1:  Initiating the Marketing Process

  • Creating Customer Relationships and Value through Marketing
  • Developing Successful Organizational and Marketing Strategies
  • Building an Effective Marketing Plan
  • Understanding the Marketing Environment, Ethical Behavior, and Social Responsibility

Part 2:  Understanding Buyers and Markets

  • Understanding Consumer Behavior
  • Understanding Organizations as Customers
  • Understanding and Reaching Global Consumers and Markets

Part 3:  Targeting Marketing Opportunities

  • Marketing Research: From Customer Insights to Actions
  • Market Segmentation, Targeting, and Positioning

Part 4:  Satisfying Marketing Opportunities

  • Developing New Products and Services
  • Managing Successful Products, Services, and Brands
  • Pricing Products and Services
  • Managing Marketing Channels and Supply Chains
  • Retailing and Wholesaling
  • Implementing Interactive and Multichannel Marketing
  • Integrated Marketing Communications and Direct Marketing
  • Advertising, Sales Promotion, and Public Relations
  • Using Social Media and Mobile Marketing to Connect with Consumers
  • Personal Selling and Sales Management

Students must achieve a passing grade of 75% or higher to receive their certification.

UC Berkeley Extension Certificate Program in Marketing

The UC Berkeley Extension Certificate Program In Marketing is a college level certification program that is designed to teach students everything they need to get started with a career in marketing. The program, which costs $4,700, includes 10 total classes, and is typically completed within two years. Topics that are taught include:

  • Marketing Analytics
  • Digital Marketing
  • SEO
  • Brand Management
  • Paid Advertising
  • Social Media
  • Marketing Research

The curriculum for the course will include 3 Core Courses (6 semester units) and 4 semester units of electives (usually 2 courses) for a total of 10 classes, which equals 150 hours of instruction, and classes are offered both online and on campus. According to a report on Upwork, 88% of graduates who were polled obtained a salary increase of 6% or more after completing this certification.

The Google AdWords Certification and Analytics IQ Credential

The Google AdWords certification and Google Analytics Individual Qualification credential are separate from Google’s Fundamentals of Digital Marketing certification. They are very much in demand — on an average day there are approximately 220 job listings on SimplyHired and 125 on LinkedIn Jobs that require potential remote candidates to be Google AdWords certified. 

Many of the academic certification courses previously mentioned do cover topics such as Google AdWords and Analytics in detail. “Google AdWords and Google Analytics are certifications that are part of the education that a student would learn as part of many digital marketing certificate programs. To be certificated in Google AdWords and Google Analytics the student would have to take the test for the certification after learning the materials in their digital marketing certificate program,” said Shea.

There are six Google Ads certifications available, including: 

  • Google Ads Search
  • Google Ads Display
  • Google Ads Video
  • Shopping ads
  • Google Ads Apps 
  • Google Ads Measurement

Google recommends that students review the Analytics Academy’s courses entitled Google Analytics for Beginners and Advanced Google Analytics courses before taking the GoogleAnalytics IQ exam. Students need to have a score of 80% or greater on the certification exams in order to pass. The Google AdWords certification and Analytics IQ credential are both valid for 12 months.

Facebook Blueprint

Facebook Blueprint is Facebook’s eLearning center, with free courses covering a vast number of topics including Facebook ads, Facebook for business, building community, raising money to fight injustice, and more. More precisely for marketers, Facebook offers several marketing certifications, including:

  • Facebook Certified Digital Marketing Associate
  • Facebook Certified Marketing Science Professional
  • Facebook Certified Creative Strategy Professional
  • Facebook Certified Media Planning Professional
  • Facebook Certified Media Buying Professional
  • Facebook Certified Marketing Developer
  • Facebook Certified Advanced Marketing Developer
  • Facebook Certified Advertising API Developer
  • Facebook Certified Community Manager

The certifications listed above are actually the exams themselves, rather than courses. Facebook does offer study guides for each certification, along with practice exams to get the student up to speed. Facebook Certification exams cost $150 for professional exams and $99 for associate exams. Similar to Google certifications, on an average day there are at least 100 remote job listings on SimplyHired and 50 job listings on LinkedIn Jobs looking for candidates that are Facebook Blueprint certified. 

HubSpot Content Marketing Certification

HubSpot’s Content Marketing certification course is very popular for many reasons, chief among them being that it is free, well-recognized, and  comprehensive. The course consists of 12 lessons, 56 videos and 11 quizzes. An individual can expect to take approximately 6 and a half hours to complete the training. The 12 lessons consist of the following topics:

  • The Power of Storytelling
  • Building a Content Creation Framework
  • Planning a Long-Term Content Strategy
  • Generating Content Ideas
  • Creating Quality Blog Content Your Audience Loves to Read and Share
  • How HubSpot Uses Blogging to Rank #1 on Google
  • Extending the Value of Your Content Through Repurposing
  • Creating Topic Clusters and Pillar Pages
  • How to Create a Successful Video Marketing Strategy
  • Building a Guest Blogging Strategy Powered by SEO
  • How to Effectively Promote Content
  • Measuring and Analyzing Your Content

HubSpot certifications are valid for two years. On an average day, there are approximately 40 remote job listings on SimplyHired and 25 on LinkedIn Jobs that request candidates to be HubSpot certified, be experienced with HubSpot software, or to be prepared to become HubSpot certified. HubSpot offers many different marketing-related certification courses, and a marketer who wishes to work for a HubSpot-focused employer would do well to take as many of the courses as possible.

Final Thoughts

Marketing certifications can help to make a marketer more valuable and more knowledgeable for a reasonable cost and effort. Usually self-paced, there are quite a few marketing courses that culminate in certification, and some, such as Google’s and HubSpot’s certifications, are free of charge. Having professional certifications can substantially increase one’s hiring potential, salary, and can help an employee gain competence and confidence in a competitive marketplace.

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Cameron Bryant. Cameron Bryant is a co-founder and partner at independent digital marketing agency Sparro which manages in excess of $120 million in ad spend on behalf of more than 80 clients. The future of digital marketing is bright – it’s creative, progressive and above all it’s customer-first. As we say […]

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