Account Executive Careers: Job Description & Salary Information

About this article
Learn about an account executive's job duties, salary and training requirements. Get straight talk about the pros and cons of becoming an account executive.
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Pros and Cons of Becoming an Account Executive

Account executives are also known as advertising sales agents. Since new types of media are always in development, opportunities in this field won't disappear. Continue reading the pros and cons to see if an account executive career is right for you.

Pros of Becoming an Account Executive
Years of experience may yield high pay (median salary of $96,720 in May 2014)*
Companies may hire candidates without a college education*
Media corporations may always rely on advertising*
Work in a comfortable environment*

Cons of Becoming an Account Executive
Overtime may be required when working on large accounts*
Great pressure to meet deadlines and requirements*
Strong competition*
Some companies may require frequent travel to meet with clients*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Career Information

Job Duties

As an account executive, your main role is to contact potential clients in order to sell advertising in various types of media. When working in this field, you are tasked with pitching clients, compiling advertising artwork, understanding clients' wants and needs and finding new clients through cold-calling. Depending on your employer, you may be required to sell television, billboard, sign, Internet and radio advertising space. Your job may also include developing advertising kits, sales pamphlets and promotional materials.

Career Prospects and Salary

According to the BLS, account executive positions are expected to a 1% decline in job growth from 2012-2022. Any potential growth will depend on the success of the shift from print media to digital media. Many new job opportunities may be created with the intent of reaching individuals through websites that have advertising for similar products. You can also expect there to be strong competition for jobs. In May 2014, the BLS also estimated that advertising and promotions managers earned a median salary of $96,720.

Education and Requirements

Although some employers don't require you to have a college education, completing a bachelor's degree program may increase your chances for being hired. The BLS suggests that you complete programs or courses that cover business, marketing, advertising and communications. These courses may develop your skills in copywriting, media planning, selling products, marketing services, financing, assessing consumer behavior, managing a business and developing business strategies.

Many career-specific skills are developed while working under a sales manager or supervisor. Your success in this field is based on driving profitable sales, developing leadership traits and problem-solving. You are required to demonstrate your potential, charisma and persuasiveness to attract new clients. The following general traits are usually required by employers:

  • Ability to maintain relationships with clients
  • Strong multi-tasking and business decision-making skills
  • Sales driven and self-confident
  • Strong oral and written communication skills

Job Posting from Real Employers

Positions are available with many companies that have a product or service to sell. Employers offering jobs can come from many backgrounds, including sales and marketing. Several companies may require specialty training in their particular field. Although this isn't a complete look at the field, the following examples were gathered from an April 2012 national job board sampling:

  • An Internet marketing company was looking for someone able to find new business opportunities and who was knowledgeable about online advertising benefits.
  • A sales company in Texas was looking for someone with skills using computers and Microsoft Office applications.
  • A business development company in Tucson searched for someone with a history of making sales quotas and working with clients through consultations.
  • A jewelry company in New York City advertised for someone familiar with cold-calling strategies and customer service techniques.

How to Stand Out in the Field

Develop Related Skills

Many of the skills that can improve your chances of success aren't learned in the classroom. These skills may be developed while building experience in the field. For example, you can work to improve your interpersonal skills to find new clients, convincing them to buy advertising packages through your company. You must also develop a thick skin and learn to persevere and handle rejection. It's important to show clients that you are confident with the services and products you are selling.

Alternative Career Paths

If you would like to advance your career, you may be interested in becoming an advertising manager. As an advertising manager, your duties can include coming up with new ideas for advertising campaigns, raising interest in services and products, studying the market to determine the best advertising approach, developing advertising layouts and assisting with pricing strategies. To work in this field, you may need to earn a bachelor's degree from a journalism or advertising program. You may also want to consider taking courses covering communication methods, consumer behavior, management, mathematics and business law. According to the BLS, in May 2011, advertising managers earned a median salary of $88,000.

As a purchasing buyer, you are expected to assess company needs in order to buy products for everyday use. Buyers are tasked with evaluating costs, learning about products from vendors, assessing defective products, working with vendors to fine-tune contracts and attending various trade shows to network with other workers in the field. You may find that many employers don't require you to have a college education. Instead, you may earn on-the-job training after you're hired. As of May 2011, the BLS estimated that the median salary for workers in this field was $50,000.

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Featured Schools

George Mason University

  • Master of Business Administration

What is your highest level of education?

The Art Institutes

  • Marketing & Entertainment Management (BS)
  • Fashion Retailing (C)
  • Fashion Retailing (D)

What is your highest level of education?

Kaplan University

  • MBA: Marketing
  • BSBA in Sales Management
  • AASBA in Sales

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Northcentral University

  • Doctor of Business Admin - Marketing
  • PhD in Business Admin - Marketing
  • MBA - Marketing
  • Master of Business Admin - General Business

What is your highest level of education?

Keiser University

  • Master of Business Administration - Management (Spanish)
  • B.A. - Business Admin: Marketing
  • Associate of Arts - Accounting

What is your highest level of education?

Grand Canyon University

  • DBA - Management
  • MBA: Marketing
  • Bachelor of Science in Business for Secondary Education

What is your highest level of education?

Full Sail University

  • M.S. - Entertainment Business
  • M.S. - Internet Marketing
  • B.S. - Music Business
  • BS - Internet Marketing - Certificate

What is your highest level of education?

Saint John's University

  • Master of Business Administration: Interdisciplinary Business

What is your highest level of education?