I frequently see job postings for various marketing positions that specify marketing, English or communications as the degree but a skillset that includes Adobe Creative Suite, HTML, Wordpress/CMS and other creative skills.

Is this a disconnect within our field and how it is being taught and perceived? How might we as a professional community begin to educate and address such an issue?

Here are a few quotes from current job postings. I don't want to link the actual posts just because they will close relatively soon but hopefully this question can help others. I'm also editing out some of the irrelevant parts

Advertising & Events Coordinator Requirements

• The ideal candidate will have a college degree in Marketing, Communications or a closely aligned curriculum

• be highly motivated, detail oriented and proficient in state-of-the-art social media and digital marketing to include Social Media Marketing, Email Marketing, FTP transfers, website CMS editing, HTML, creative design development and other campaign technology to attract high volume attention

• The ideal candidates will be flexible, results oriented and a creative problem solver.

Here's another one

Marketing Manager – Creative Design Manager - Advertising

Job Responsibilities

As a Marketing Manager, you will be responsible for planning, directing, or coordinating marketing policies and programs, such as determining the demand for products and services, and identify potential customers.

Additional Responsibilities of the Marketing Manager include:

• Budget Managing new product launches

• Developing and managing all literature, cut sheets and all POP for retail items

• Organizing and managing trade show activity, developing trade show booth displays

• Researching all needed market data Managing web site

• Pushing web traffic via SEO and other means


• Expert knowledge of Adobe InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, web and print production

• Excellent communication and multi-tasking skills Ability to travel to trade shows Television advertising experience a plus

• Bachelor’s Degree preferably in Marketing

• Advanced knowledge of graphic design and printing processes

• Developing and managing annual marketing

And one last one:

RESPONSIBILITIES: (include but are not limited to):

• Responsible for all web content and updating all property websites. Coordinate web design and development with vendors. Keeping up with web addresses and domain names;

• SEO management;

• Development and design of all marketing collateral including property brochures, information sheets, invitations and various literature pieces;

• Development and design of all signage and banners;

• Design and develop all advertising campaigns including newspapers, apartment guides, magazines and web based advertising;

• Work with new developments from lease up which includes image branding, collateral, signage, and advertising.


Bachelor’s degree required in Marketing;

• Must have proven, solid 3-4 years experience in Marketing;

• Must have proven experience with graphic design.

Are schools teaching these courses to marketing majors or am I correct that this is a huge disconnect that needs to be addressed?


4 Answers 4


I don't know if I'd call it a disconnect. This is a product of the desktop publishing era. Many small businesses (at least in the US) employ an in-house "marketing" person who does it all. They often learn graphics apps on the job or through some kind of on-line training.

I've seen this first hand, coming in as a freelancer. One person who learns web and print design, SEO, social media, PR, sometimes even sales or product development is all part of getting the job done on a shoe-string budget. Things don't get done well but they do get done.

For some reason, these over-worked Jack-of-all-trades types tend to be either marketing or communications grads. Often times, a mar-comm program will offer an elective in "graphics": I suppose this gives them a false sense of confidence.

I wouldn't worry about addressing the issue, as you say. Such jobs are typically attached to under-funded businesses with weak profits that aren't going anywhere. Joining the staff of that kind of organization will only lead to disappointment. Do them a favor and offer your consulting/freelancing services: That Jack of all trades could really use the help.


I wouldn't say those job descriptions are asking the candidate to actually be able to execute graphic design, but rather manage it--be it through vendors or other teams within the organization.

Marketing and Graphic Design obviously are closely related and there is certainly overlap. It certainly doesn't hurt marketing folks to have some graphic design fundamentals just as it doesn't hurt for graphic designers to have some marketing fundamentals.

  • 3
    This is similar to the case where I work. I'm an in-house designer doing something specialist somewhere where 90% of the standard meat-and-two-veg design work gets done by agencies. A lot of the marketing / content management staff here have a volume-discount copy of CS4 design standard via one of those cheapifying networky software sharing thing like Citrix, with bare-basic training in using it for basic tasks like resizing, cropping, reformatting, minor edits etc, and bare-basic knowledge of design principles and branding for overseeing external work. Dec 19, 2012 at 11:23
  • "Merely manage" is more like "amateur" than "expert". One of them actually says: "Expert knowledge of Adobe InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, web and print production". I'd refer to such a person as an experienced Graphic Designer.
    – horatio
    Dec 19, 2012 at 21:41
  • @horatio while I would expect an experienced graphic designer to have those skills, there are also other roles that could have those skills as well.
    – DA01
    Dec 19, 2012 at 21:49

I was just talking about this yesterday with another designer friend, although her comment was that employers wanted designers who also have high-end coding experience. Her perspective is also that Jacks-of-all-trades are masters of none, and she'd rather be a kick-butt designer who knows a kick-butt coder she can subcontract.

My feeling is that these are shops which are trying to cut corners and do as much as they can with limited budgets, so they're posting a wish list rather than an actual job description and hoping a dream employee actually calls them.

I mean, I happen to be an English major who does graphic design for marketers... but there just can't be that many people in my circumstances.

  • 1
    I know more than one English Major that works as a graphic designer. ;) I definitely agree that job postings, in general, are often pie-in-the-sky wish lists more than reality. At the same time, though, I wouldn't say they are always looking to cut corners (though it's common). There are I shaped people and T shaped people (and other shapes) and it's often good for organizations to have a bit of both on staff.
    – DA01
    Dec 19, 2012 at 16:39

All answers are excellent and exactly to the point, I think. While re-reading the question, I also thought of another possible reason, not sure if it's the case in the OP's country. I know for sure it might be in some places.

More people are 'moving' from different fields into graphic design, and lots of talented designers don't actually have a formal education in it. Same thing happens in IT, you have access to anything online, so learning how to code or use a certain software is quite easy.

Maybe asking for a Bachelor's Degree is a way to restrict the search to college graduates, and even the field itself is kind of secondary. But as I said, this has a regional/cultural bias. Might be completely off.

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