Marketing can be a great choice for a school leaver. After all many organisations have marketing departments, meaning that marketing assistants can be found in both the private and public sectors, ranging from the financial, retailing and media industries to voluntary and public sector organisations.

While many students who received their A-Level and BTEC results are about to start university, others are keen to say farewell to exams and head straight to work. And for school leavers marketing is an attractive option. Marketing’s popularity as a career is down to a number of factors. It is very social and offers excellent career prospects making it an ideal choice for a recent school leaver. You don't have to have studied marketing to get into it and each year students from various educational backgrounds enter the career.

As the traditional careers, advice delivered in schools has changed in recent years, there is evidence of an advice gap for young people coming out of education regarding paths to employment. This means students are often unsure which career they can get into and how. The CBI/Pearson’s Education and Skills Survey 2015 revealed that 77 % of UK businesses felt the quality of careers advice received is not good enough to help young people make informed decisions about future career options. In research conducted by AAT, nearly two thirds of 16 to 24 year olds said that careers advice is favoured towards university. This has led to a third believing that vocational education is only suitable for blue-collar jobs such as manufacturing and construction.

Sam, a marketing exec, embarked on a digital marketing apprenticeship with a SME in Bedfordshire. She was set to study marketing at The University of Brighton but decided not to at the last minute.

“After a long conversation with my mum I decided to act on my gut feeling and give uni a miss, especially with tuition increasing to £9,000 a year. I was ready to be independent and start earning my own money.”

How was it to join a company straight from school at such a young age?

“The team was all so great and welcoming, being age 17 it can be intimidating entering office life as it’s completely different to being in the classroom” Sam explains.

Graduates entering into marketing, with or without a marketing degree, are likely to start as a marketing assistant or coordinator, so embarking on a marketing career at 18 can put bright and enthusiastic marketers on a level playing field to graduates entering the profession.

Starting off in marketing junior positions and working up is a common route within marketing. These entry-level positions are a good way to gain a broad experience of the industry. Bernadette started her career straight from school and worked as a photographer before progressing as a marketing assistant to marketing executive and now is a designer for an agency. She explains:

“If you want to get into marketing you can't be afraid of challenges or tight deadlines. There's no shame whatsoever in starting at the bottom and working your way up, who knows, along the way you might find a different avenue that floats your boat within the marketing world such as design, social media or event management.”

And while Sam’s friends are graduating from university, does she have any regrets about choosing marketing? “It’s the best decision I’ve made. I have learned lessons you cannot learn in uni and worked with amazing people which has helped me work my way up the career ladder.”

So at the age of eighteen how does anyone know what they want to do for the next 40 odd years? But starting in marketing may well be the path to a long and successful career. As Sam says:

“Don’t panic if you're not completely sure about what you want to do! It’s okay to be confused, but once you find the right job for you it’s the best feeling and it doesn't even feel like work. If you asked me what career I wanted leaving school in 2010 I wouldn't be able to answer.  Now in 2016, I’ve four years marketing and digital media experience, I know I wouldn't want a career in anything else but marketing!”

So if you’re interested in a marketing career without a degree, or know someone who is, how do you get started?

Top tips for getting into marketing straight from school.

  • Search marketing apprenticeships or marketing assistant roles online
  • Try to get some work experience - contact small companies or charities in your local area.
  • Social media marketing is about engaging with the target audience using social media channels like twitter, facebook and LinkedIn - use these to benefit your job search.
  • Network, network and network! You never know who could offer you a marketing opportunity.
  • Watch online tutorials - there’s loads of free content out there!

Marketing is fast-paced and in your first marketing role, you may gain skills in:

  • Planning and using market research
  • Managing customer relationships and databases 
  • Developing effective channels to market.

Find out which area of marketing suits your personality with our quick quiz.