With the explosion of social media marketing over the last decade, increasing numbers of career-changers and individuals are looking to break into the social media field in order to establish rewarding and diverse careers in this ever-evolving space.
If a career in social media is something you’re looking into, you might be wondering what qualifications or certifications you might need to succeed. Look no further! In this article, we’re going to run through the essential skills employers require from social media marketers, and the very best social media certification options out there right now.
If you’d like to skip to any particular section, just use the clickable menu here:
- Do you need a social media certification to work in the field?
- What skills do you need to work in social media?
- The best social media certifications on the market
- Wrap-up and next steps
Let’s get started!
1. Do you need a social media certification to work in the field?
The short answer is no, you don’t need a social media certification to work in the field. For a number of junior positions, a demonstrable passion for the subject (combined with some evidence of personal projects, campaigns, or an internship) should suffice. Indeed, those who come from a digital marketing background may also find the transition to social media marketing less of a hurdle, as many of the skills required in other digital marketing roles are transferable to this position.
For individuals with little-to-no paid work experience in social media, it should be noted that the company is likely to expect you to undertake in-house or external training courses or workshops to get you up to speed on the basics of social media marketing, as well as how you’ll be expected to work within the digital marketing team.
If you are replacing an exiting member of staff there may be a few ‘handover’ days, during which you would be instructed on your day-to-day tasks and the status of ongoing projects, as well as have the opportunity to ask questions of the person who had the role before you.
Although it is definitely possible to gain an entry-level role in social media marketing as an individual without experience or education in the field, it’s also true that in a recruitment setting, those without these demonstrable skills will struggle to compete against candidates who do possess the necessary knowledge and abilities.
While a degree isn’t a necessity to landing your first job in social media, those with university degrees in marketing, digital marketing, communication, public relations, or journalism are well-equipped to apply for social media marketing positions, as these degrees teach students how to effectively communicate with different user groups, how to target audiences, and—in some cases—how to master digital marketing tools.
However, while degrees can be great for covering a wide range of subjects and theories, a certification course in social media marketing tends to give students more opportunities to: try out techniques themselves, build interview-ready social media portfolios, learn from industry professionals, and get hands-on experience with tools and systems.
While degrees are more theory-based they can quickly become outdated, while social media certifications and bootcamps are more regularly updated, providing intimate knowledge of the latest industry developments, the most cutting edge digital tools available, current user trends and behavior, and how to create and implement social media strategy in the current climate.
2. What skills do you need to work in social media?
While a deep understanding of digital tools and some technical prowess will certainly be hugely beneficial to the social media marketer’s role, focusing on technical skills alone is unlikely to be enough. Social media experts are often needed to be excellent communicators and conversationalists in order to create communities and fans around a brand, engage with users, and work with social media influencers.
Let’s take a closer look at the soft and hard skills needed to excel in social media.
- Be adept at identifying and leveraging top social media channels
- Have knowledge of how paid and organic campaigns work
- Be able to analyze, learn from, and present results
- Be skilled in optimizing posts for long-lasting impact
- Have excellent in-person and written communication skills both within the team and with users
- Possess a talent for writing memorable and compelling posts
- Be able to naturally initiate conversations with followers, fans, and users
- Have a good understanding of how third-party publishing and management tools work
- Have experience in strategy creation that aligns with the goals of the business
- Be able to cultivate, manage, and engage with a community, customers, and relevant influencers
- Have a strong interest in social media trends
- Possess a desire to be at the forefront of social media culture
- Possess a strong aesthetic sensibility to create great-looking posts
- Have some knowledge of graphic creation, Photoshop, and other design tools
- Be informative, friendly, professional, and quick to respond to enquiries
- Have a strong eye for detail
- Possess impeccable organizational and timekeeping skills
- Be able to keep a calm head and troubleshoot in a crisis
- Be interested in working as part of a cohesive team
3. The best social media certifications on the market
As jobs in social media have continued to multiply, so too have courses teaching the skills needed to excel in the field. To help you identify the right course for your skill level and needs, we’ve put together a list of some of our favorite social media marketing courses, including need-to-know data points such as what you’ll learn, the length of each course, and price.
What do you learn?
Aimed at both beginners and upskillers alike, the CareerFoundry Digital Marketing Program covers the whole spectrum of skills and knowledge needed to excel in the digital marketing field. Beginning with the Intro To Digital Marketing Program, before moving on to Digital Marketing Immersion, students come away with knowledge of strategy, content creation, campaign planning, and analytics.
From a practical standpoint, students will work on their very own social media campaign at the start of the course, before progressing on to six different digital marketing projects which require the mindset, processes, and tools that digital marketers use every day.
Duration of the program: Four months studying full-time at 30-40 hours a week, or up to seven months studying part-time at 15-20 hours a week
Price: $6,900, with discounts available
What do you learn?
Aimed specifically at those wanting to break into social media marketing, Udemy’s Social Media Marketing MASTERY focuses on all the major social media platforms, imparting best practices, principles, and proven strategies for social media marketing success. In this social media certification program, students learn how to monetize these networks, implement channel-specific strategies, execute SEO and content marketing practices, execute Facebook Ad campaigns, and much more.
With content heavily focused on the differences between channels and how to use each to the marketer’s advantage this is a great course for both newbies to social media marketing and those who want to hone their existing skills.
Duration of the program: 10 hours of on-demand videos, supplemented by downloadable resources
What do you learn?
A digital marketing package popular with graduates, entrepreneurs, and small business owners with an eye on learning applicable digital marketing skills they can use in their own campaigns, Digital Marketing Institute’s Professional Diploma in Digital Marketing is an in-depth diploma course providing the skills students need to stay relevant in the field.
With a dedicated and regularly updated social media marketing module, students learn the key social platforms for digital marketing, how to grow and engage an audience, data-driven insights, how to set up a social experience for a business, and how to create and optimize social media campaigns: all crucial skills for any aspiring social media marketer.
Duration of the program: 30 hours of content (with up to 24 weeks to complete the course)
What do you learn?
IPD’s Digital Marketing and Social Media Programme takes students through the whole spectrum of digital marketing from brand building and marketing strategy, to digital marketing acquisition, conversion and retention. Designed to encourage strategic and tactical thinking, the course gives students access to the tools they need for digital activity evaluation, analysis, and assessment, as well as guidance in managing and streamlining a team’s digital activities.
Session 3 of the course is dedicated solely to social media marketing, with topics including platform management, strategic planning, and content creation. Students will also study paid social and scheduling tools, thought leadership, the power of influencers, and making an impact through social posting.
Duration of the program: 4 days
Price: £1,350 plus VAT (or $1,650 plus VAT)
What do you learn?
Designed for entry-level learners of social media marketing, with this social media certification students learn the essential features and functions of each social media platform, how they work, and how audiences and businesses engage with these channels to connect to users and build their brands.
The course teaches how to build a strong business presence on social media, the steps needed to create competitive social media accounts, how social media works with business strategy, and how brands gain the attention of the right audiences with each platform.
Duration of the program: 7 hours
What do you learn?
Created for beginners, the Social Media Marketing Specialization teaches students everything they need to know about social analytics tools, how to become an influencer, and how to create a great social media marketing strategy.
The six courses that make up this specialization include: “What is Social?”, “The Importance of Listening”, “Engagement and Nurture Marketing Strategies”, “Content, Advertising, and Social IMC”, “The Business of Social”, and “Social Marketing Capstone Project,”, with all studying taking place 100% online.
Duration of the program: Approximately 7 months
Price: $45 a month
What do you learn?
Delivered in bite-sized learning units, Digital Marketing Institute’s Social Media Marketing Short Course prepares you for your first social media marketing position. The course uses a selection of interactive learning formats such as toolkits, videos, podcasts, webinars, and essential reading to help students learn skills in social listening, social intelligence, social media marketing, social community building, brand storytelling, personas, and strategic thinking, among others.
Split into five modules, the program focuses on getting students ready for their career changes, with 38% of all course graduates landing a new role in digital marketing (or completing a successful career change) upon finishing the course.
Duration of the program: 14 hours
4. Wrap-up and next steps
We hope our rundown of top social media certification courses will help you make an informed choice about your next steps in learning about social media marketing.
Before you decide on which course you’d like to pursue, be sure to consider the following:
- Your budget
- Your flexibility
- How much time you can commit to a course
- Which specific role you’d like to land after the course
- Your current skill set (and what you need to improve on)
- Payment plans offered by each course
- How much mentor guidance you need
- Which certification is most useful to you
- If the course includes the creation of a portfolio
- How much peer group interaction you need
- If the course includes a job guarantee
- If the course includes assistance with job applications, your resume, and interviews
If you’re still not sure which social media certification is the right one for you, check out our free Digital Marketing short course for an all-round introduction to digital marketing that is self-paced, designed for beginners, and covers all the essentials of social media marketing, too.
You might also like to read the following articles regarding social media marketing careers: