CMO Career Path: What a Marketer Can Do to Become a CMO

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Companies have traditionally outsourced their marketing to agencies, but there is now a growing demand for Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) and fractional CMOs (those who oversee in-house marketing departments) who can take on these responsibilities internally. As the need for strong and unique brand identities increases, the demand for experienced marketing leaders also grows.

As businesses grow, they compete for similar demographics. Brand recognition has become crucial to converting and retaining customers. CMOs know a lot about what works and what doesn’t work, as well as what has been done too much and what has been overlooked.

If you:

You could have a successful career as a chief marketing officer if you have the right skills and qualities.

This job is perfect for someone who wants to start new businesses or help a company that needs to be improved. The position of Chief Marketing Officer is also well-paid, and allows individuals to select the industries in which they want to work.

General CMO Career Path

In order to successfully develop and lead a team, it is necessary to learn the foundations and nuances of marketing strategy, as well as how to anticipate and identify changes in marketing trends. The only way to gain relevant experience in marketing is to get an entry-level marketing position and then work to increase your skills so that you can be promoted. To become a CMO, you need to start at the bottom and work your way up.

This is not a process that is done by rote or that is standardized. There are things you can do to improve your CMO career prospects and advance more quickly through the ranks to a C-level position. Some strategies and development tools can help you gain the skills you need and keep moving up.

A typical career path to becoming a CMO follows these general stages:

Entry-Level Marketing Position

Entry-level marketing positions are for individuals who are just starting out in marketing, or who are changing careers. The positions that are being talked about here generally require no more than 2 years of experience and would likely have you working as a coordinator or specialist in the marketing industry.

When looking for a job in this field, look for titles such as project coordinator, social media coordinator, account coordinator, marketing coordinator, event marketing coordinator, event marketing specialist, or marketing specialist. The following jobs provide an understanding of the marketing industry and involve research and administrative tasks.

Marketing Manager

If you’re good at your job and have the right skills and knowledge, you’ll be able to get a management position. The positions available require at least 3 years of experience and would have you in a leadership role over one or more employees or processes. In your role as a manager, you will be responsible for creating, coordinating, sustaining, and assessing marketing strategies while also providing guidance to your subordinates.

Director of Marketing

Several years working as a marketing manager will prepare you to make the jump into high-level management as a marketing director. The title of “head of marketing strategy” requires 6 to 7 years of experience. You will likely spend your time analyzing customer, competitor, and market data gathered by managers so you can adapt your company’s marketing strategy to meet high-level goals.

VP of Marketing

To be a marketing vice president, you usually need to have at least 14 years of experience in the field. When you are applying for this job, you should have great leadership, technical, and business skills. If you take this job, you will also be responsible for acting as the company diplomat. This involves working with different departments to help the company stay focused and often speaking to the public on behalf of the company. Help interview and hire people for other leadership positions.

Chief Marketing Officer

When you become a Chief Marketing Officer, you will have gained a lot of experience in many different aspects of marketing, such as advertising, brand management, public relations, etc. The responsibilities of a CMO include developing, planning, and executing all marketing strategies and initiatives for their company. This involves overseeing all marketing departments and activities to ensure that they are working together efficiently and effectively to achieve the company’s marketing goals. The goal of this position is to make sure that the company gets a good return on its investment in marketing.

It’s not only possible, but also important to take on the role of full-time CMO for a single company. Working as a fractional CMO allows you to work in multiple industries, support smaller businesses, and earn more money. The companies for which you dedicate your attention and expertise will benefit, and you’ll have more control over your career.

Credentials for Becoming a CMO

Investing time, energy, and educational credits into becoming a CMO requires a lot of dedication. The companies that are hiring chief marketing officers are looking for candidates that have the perfect mix of education, certifications, and practical experience, as well as soft skills that show they would make great leaders.

Formal Education

At the very least, CMOs need a bachelor’s degree in marketing. Some other degrees that are okay for a bachelor’s or master’s degree include journalism, communications, advertising, and public relations. Some companies look for candidates with an MBA, but candidates with the right experience may be just as attractive without a master’s degree.

Employers might want to know about any relevant college coursework you took, depending on how long ago you graduated. Courses in economics, accounting, and data analysis can be useful for your work and make hiring managers take a second look at you.


Certifications for CMOs serve three primary purposes:

  1. Increase their skillset and theoretical knowledge

  2. Hone their professional skills

  3. Increase their value to current or potential employers

The most beneficial certification courses accomplish all three objectives, providing you with the most value for your time and energy. A certification course should help you build upon the knowledge you already have. It is more beneficial to take classes that improve your skills or provide knowledge about a certain industry rather than just taking classes to make your resume look better.

If you’re not sure where to start, taking a couple of courses offered by accredited institutions can help you learn more and stay up to date on best marketing practices.

Many CMOs and potential CMOs take these courses electively to round out their education:

Typical Compensation of CMOs

The average salary of a CMO in the U.S. is $171,571, plus additional compensation and incentives. A typical person in this role will also earn a bonus of $36,130, commission of $22,002, and profit sharing of $15,063. In all, this average compensation package totals to $244,766. The median salary for CEOs in the U.S. is over five times higher than the median salary in the U.S., which is approximately $46,800.

What Makes the Best CMOs Successful?

The most intelligent and driven individual could still be an ineffective CMO. It is very important to know what is required to do this job and what qualities are needed to be successful in it. It might be better for someone to have a c-level position such as CEO or COO. What traits and skills does a CMO need? Continue reading to find out.

Personality Traits

Some important “soft skills” for this role are the ability to be happy and successful. The key personality traits of an effective CMO are: -Outgoing and personable -Strategic thinker -Excellent communicator – Good at networking -Leadership skills – Passionate about their work -Team player

To be an effective leader, you need to be able to communicate and interact well with others. The CMO position involves leading multiple teams and working closely with other departments and leaders within the company, as well as dealing with many different outside vendors, customers, and partners. It’s important that this person can communicate well and is aware of other people’s needs and personalities. Never underestimate the value of empathy.

A CMO will often have to lead presentations and meetings, which means it is important for this person to be good at public speaking. There are many reasons why a business leader might give a speech. They might want to announce a new strategy or policy, give a speech to inspire their team during a difficult time, facilitate a meeting between departments that need to collaborate, or announce results from a successful initiative. It is important for a CMO to be able to communicate effectively in various situations.

You cannot act as if you care about something when you do not – your employees will be able to see that you are not being sincere. A great CMO will want their team to achieve the goals they set out. When employees are passionate about their work, it’s contagious and can help prevent burnout, which is especially important in highly competitive industries.

If you want your team to be successful, you need to set goals. But goals are only valuable if you track and measure them. A CMO is responsible for the organization’s results by measuring performance metrics and providing the tools necessary to achieve the goals set forth. A leader in this role is accountable to both the CEO for accomplishing company objectives and to employees for being engaged in their work and present when any problems arise.

A CMO position requires both thinking about detail and the big picture. A leader needs to guide the vision of the marketing program. This makes it necessary for a CMO to take a broad look at each team’s contributions and objectives and align them into one cohesive strategy. This role requires a person who can both understand the big picture and the details. Within the field of marketing, it is critical to measure and report data. This requires understanding how each piece of data fits together.

Marketing is ever-changing. A great CMO will not only have a good understanding of recent developments in the space, but will also look out for those that are upcoming and be able to anticipate customer needs. This person must little difficulty in planning and looking ahead, as well as being open to new challenges. A bad CMO will refuse to learn about new technologies or will try to pass the responsibility off to someone else.

Hard Skills

There are also a number of hard skills required for the position of CMO. Some extra skills may be needed depending on the company’s industry or marketing strategy, but the following abilities are essential for anyone in this position.

Many people believe that leadership and management are the same thing, but this is not the case. Leaders are not necessarily managers, and vice versa. There are several important skills that managers need to possess in order to be successful. These skills include the ability to plan and set processes, create organizational structures, and solve problems. Anyone can be a leader, but managers are responsible for setting expectations and holding people accountable. An effective Chief Marketing Officer must have excellent operational skills in order to successfully lead a division.

The Chief Marketing Officer of a company must have a firm understanding of the industry their company operates within as well as all the marketing functions of their organization. If you are in this role, you should never think that it is someone else’s responsibility to understand the details. You don’t need to be working on the ground level with these marketing initiatives, but you should have a basic understanding of how they work so you can help your employees effectively.

An effective marketing division needs reporting and measurement. It is crucial that you comprehend how your teams are functioning and be able to locate where any discrepancies are taking place – a comprehensive reporting process assists you in accomplishing this. This means that the CMO needs to understand how the detailed reports are created, even if someone else on the team is responsible for doing so. As a leader in this role, you should be able to dive into the details and create a custom report if needed. The numbers might not make sense to you if you don’t understand the context.

The CMO is in charge of marketing and works closely with the CEO to ensure that the company meets its revenue goals. The CMO needs to have a good understanding of financial concepts and the performance measures used in businesses. Marketing will directly impact a company’s bottom line. To fully comprehend your company’s overall performance, you must be aware of each individual metric that leads to the final calculation. For example, you must know your conversion and revenue rates. As someone who is not the CFO, you should still be able to understand the financial reports of a company.

The best CMOs are innovative individuals with plenty of practical experience and a positive outlook. A CMO shouldn’t focus on leading with an iron fist, but rather on motivating and inspiring their teams to be the best they can be.


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