Custom Search 1


The advertising industry is part of the creative industries, represented by Skillset Sector Skills Council. This includes: advertising; animation; computer games; corporate and commercial production; fashion and textiles; film; interactive media; photo imaging; publishing; radio; and television.

[N.B. The advertising sector has now been brought under Skillset’s remit and they are currently working on a research programme for the industry. They expect to report back with updated LMI information and statistics from early 2011.]

Advertising agencies (creative, media, direct marketing, digital, sponsorship, specialist agencies etcetera) are core to the advertising industry and are firmly positioned within the ‘creative industries’, alongside architecture, design, fashion and computer services. Careers in advertising can be divided into:

  • Creative careers, which include jobs in copywriting and art direction/graphic design
  • Commercial careers, which involve planning the advertising strategy and an analysis of markets and targets. Media management and market research are the main strands here

Key facts:

  • There are 21,455 people working in advertising, this number has declined by 19% since 2006.
  • There are 345 businesses, of which 7% employ less than 5 people and 64% employ more than 20 people.
  • Advertising contributes £1.11 billion to the UK economy.
  • 17% of the workforce is self‐employed.
  • 17% of the workforce is employed part‐time.
  • Women in the industry are generally more highly qualified than men (53% have an above level 4 qualification as their highest qualification compared with 50% of men).
  • Women are likely to earn less money than men (79% of women in advertising earn less than £20,000 per annum, compared to 33% of men).
  • 6% of the workforce has a below Level 2 qualification (GCSE level).
  • Staff turnover in the industry is high.

Jobs in the industry include: Account Manager, Account Planner, Advertising Account Executive, Advertising Account Planner, Advertising Art Director, Advertising Installer, Advertising Media Buyer, Advertising Media Planner, Brand Manager, Copywriter/Art Director, Event and Exhibition Organiser

Entry and progression
It is not always necessary to have a degree for entry into advertising, but having relevant qualifications and experience will improve employment opportunities, especially for higher paid job roles. 52% of the workforce has a level 4 or higher qualification (which is equivalent to a degree and above). Technical/specialist roles may require specific qualifications and/or experience, but some employers offer training. Advertising agencies demand creativity from everyone.

Recruitment methods tend to be informal and a number of those looking for opportunities in advertising begin with undertaking low‐paid or unpaid placements. There are opportunities for those wishing to change career, as formal qualifications are not always required.

There are a range of industry endorsed courses (both at undergraduate and post‐graduate), apprenticeships, training schemes and a Diploma available.

For job specific entry requirements, job profiles should be consulted.

Workforce statistics
Number of UK employees: 21,455
Number of UK employers: 345
Gender: 56% male, 44% female
Ethnicity: 92% of the advertising workforce is white
Age: 65% of the workforce is under the age of 40
21% of the workforce is aged between 25‐29 years
[N.B. Data from Creative and Cultural Skills Workforce Survey, 2009.]

Employment trends and future prospects
New technologies have led to the proliferation of different media advertising opportunities and new markets are emerging. These changes have led agencies to set up specialist services working alongside favoured specialist suppliers or training their existing staff to understand and deliver a broader spread of communications tools. For instance, digital and interactive media are growing in importance.

Skill requirements and shortages
Creative and IT roles are reported to be most difficult to fill, which is linked to growing digital and interactive media. Management and leadership skills are most sought after in new recruits to the industry. The three key skills that employers feel are lacking in their staff, include: IT; sales; and management skills. Future skills needs are focused on:
communication planning; IP and the ownership of ideas; organisation and logistics; plus management and leadership.

Occupational trends
Across the creative and cultural industries, employment in professional, associated and technical roles will increase by 26% over the next few years, compared with 15% across the UK. 39% of creative and cultural employers state that all occupations will maintain their current importance.

Salary levels
Pay scales in this industry are variable, so the following provides an indication of the wage structure of the current advertising workforce:

  • 37% earn more than £41,000 per year
  • 12% earn between £29,000 – £41,000
  • 6% earn between £20,000 – £29,000
  • 18% earn between £10,000 – £20,000
  • 28% earn less than £10,000

Further sources
Creative & Cultural Skills
Communication Advertising and Marketing Education (CAM) Foundation
The Advertising Association
Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA)