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CTE Career Clusters | Marketing

What Is the Marketing Career Cluster?

March 8th, 2024 | 11 min. read

Brad Hummel

Brad Hummel

Coming from a family of educators, Brad knows both the joys and challenges of teaching well. Through his own teaching background, he’s experienced both firsthand. As a writer for iCEV, Brad’s goal is to help teachers empower their students by listening to educators’ concerns and creating content that answers their most pressing questions about career and technical education.

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As a high school business teacher, there’s a good chance you’ve been asked to teach courses in the Marketing career cluster. Even though marketing careers are popular, you might be uncertain about what exactly this cluster involves. What pathways and jobs are involved, and how can you get your students excited about pursuing careers in marketing?

In this article, you'll discover answers to the most essential questions about the Architecture and Construction career cluster:

  • What Is the Marketing Career Cluster?
  • Why Is This Career Cluster Important?
  • What Are Career Pathways Within This Cluster?

After reading, you'll know more about the Marketing career cluster so you can encourage your students to select rewarding careers that match their passions.

What Is the Marketing Career Cluster?

The Marketing career cluster is one of 16 clusters in career and technical education (CTE). While these marketing-related careers are an important part of business, they deal specifically with the concepts of acquiring and retaining customers.

Careers in this cluster are focused on refining business processes so that a company’s merchandising, communications, and sales are properly managed to offer and provide goods and services to prospective and returning customers.

Ensuring each marketing process works efficiently and effectively is part of what makes marketing careers exciting and complex. Marketing professionals ensure that the company delivers the proper message and product to customers at the right time. However, delivering on this promise requires research, training, and experience.

Whether in sports marketing or social media, a well-organized marketing effort can make a massive difference in ensuring the long-term success of a business, along with satisfied customers willing to become ambassadors for a company and its products.

Why Is This Career Cluster Important?

The Marketing career cluster is important to successful business operations and communicating the value of a company and its offerings.

Marketing professionals are often the first people a prospective customer interacts with at a company, whether through encountering advertising campaigns or reviewing a company’s website, videos, and written materials. Sales and customer success representatives further enhance the customer experience by providing customized solutions and tailored assistance to meet individual needs.

Professionals in the Marketing career cluster are essential to the function of organizations and provide indispensable services to customers in the United States and beyond. Through their cross-functional work, they provide vital communications that ensure the delivery of timely messages, optimize marketing and sales processes, and create a world-class communications experience. Together, they are an organization’s brand ambassadors and chief promoters to the general public.

Though individuals in this cluster work with potential and current customers at different stages of the engagement process, each task fills a need for providing specialized attention to ever-improving processes. Successful marketing, sales, merchandising, and communication require ongoing research, analysis, and optimization, and these career professionals are continually looking to enhance this process to provide for a company or organization’s ongoing growth and viability.

Ultimately, careers in this pathway are essential to the function of today’s corporations and nonprofit organizations. When students elect opportunities in the Marketing career cluster, they choose a rewarding career that directly helps individuals while impacting an entire organization.

What Are Career Pathways Within This Cluster?

There are five career pathways within the Marketing cluster. When students choose a path, they specialize their CTE education to prepare them for specific careers in the overall sales and marketing process.

The five pathways are:

  1. Marketing Management Pathway
  2. Professional Sales Pathway
  3. Merchandising Pathway
  4. Marketing Communications Pathway
  5. Marketing Research Pathway

Each path begins with core high school classes in areas like English/Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies. From there, students complete general business courses and specialized coursework within each pathway. Let's take a closer look at what each pathway entails and what careers students can pursue.

Marketing Management Pathway

The Marketing Management pathway involves the assessment, organization, and execution of marketing operations for an organization. Jobs in this pathway ensure the overall and ongoing success of marketing from a managerial and analytical perspective so that a company can meet its sales and marketing objectives.


According to Advance CTE, examples of employment opportunities in Marketing Management include:


  • Administrative Support Representative
  • Analyst
  • Brand Manager
  • CRM Manager
  • Customer Satisfaction Manager
  • Customer Service Representative
  • Database Analyst and Database Manager
  • Director of Market Development
  • Forecasting Manager
  • Frequency Marketing Specialist
  • Interviewer
  • Knowledge Management Specialist
  • Marketing Services Manager
  • Planning Analyst
  • Product Planner
  • Research Associate, Research Project Manager, and Research Specialist/Manager
  • Strategic Planner

The level of education required varies depending on the job. For example, learners will need a college degree for more technical and analytical roles. On the other hand, graduates can likely take roles such as a Customer Service Representative right out of high school.


Professional Sales Pathway 

The Professional Sales pathway directly engages current and potential customers with solutions to meet their needs. Sales professionals are involved in everyday meetings with customers to build relationships and oversee the sales experience.


Careers in this pathway are focused more specifically on sales operations and include:


  • Account Executive
  • Administrative Support Representative
  • Agent
  • Broker
  • Business Development Manager
  • Channel Sales Manager
  • Client Relationship Manager
  • Customer Service Representative
  • Field Marketing Representative
  • Field Representative
  • Inbound Call Manager
  • Industrial Sales Representative
  • Key Account Manager
  • Manufacturer’s Representative
  • National Account Manager
  • Outside Sales Representative
  • Regional Sales Manager
  • Retail Sales Specialist
  • Sales Engineer
  • Sales Executive
  • Sales Person
  • Sales/Marketing Associate
  • Solutions Advisor
  • Technical Sales Specialist
  • Telemarketer
  • Territory Representative/ Manager

While more advanced opportunities in the Professional Sales pathway require additional education, CTE graduates can begin work in sales directly after high school. This allows learners to develop skills and consider further training.


Merchandising Pathway

The Merchandising Pathway deals specifically with buying materials and merchandise and presenting products for sale, often in a retail environment. Professionals in this pathway must have an excellent command of markets to know when and how to present products to customers.

Careers in this pathway represent both the buying and merchandising of products and include:


  • Administrative Support Representative
  • Customer Service Representative
  • Department Manager
  • Merchandise Buyer
  • Merchandising Manager
  • Operations Manager
  • Receiving Clerk
  • Retail Marketing Coordinator
  • Sales Associate and Sales Manager
  • Stock Clerk
  • Store Manager
  • Visual Merchandise Manager

Like the other marketing pathways, there are plenty of opportunities in Merchandising for career advancement through additional education. However, some entry-level positions will be available to new CTE graduates.


Marketing Communications Pathway

The Marketing Communications pathway is all about ensuring that timely messages are delivered to current and prospective customers. Communication roles involve advertising and publicly promoting a company’s products to maximize brand awareness and sales.

Opportunities related to Marketing Communications concern managing and promoting products, along with ensuring the success of a brand:


  • Account Executive
  • Account Supervisor
  • Administrative Support Representative
  • Advertising Manager
  • Analyst
  • Art/Graphics Director
  • Circulation Manager
  • Contract Administrator
  • Co-op Manager
  • Copywriter
  • Creative Director
  • Customer Service Representative
  • Interactive Media Specialist
  • Marketing Associate
  • Media Buyer/Planner
  • Promotions Manager
  • Public Information Director
  • Public Relations Manager
  • Research Assistant
  • Research Specialist
  • Sales Promotion Manager
  • Sales Representative
  • Trade Show Manager

Like the other marketing pathways, there are plenty of opportunities for career advancement through additional education. However, some entry-level positions will be available to new CTE graduates.


Marketing Research Pathway

Finally, the Marketing Research pathway concentrates on understanding markets, people, and organizations. People work in Marketing Research to determine how products fulfill a need in the marketplace, how the company should sell these products, and work to predict how consumer and organizational needs may change in the future.

There are a range of different opportunities in Marketing Research, such as:


  • Administrative Support Representative
  • Analyst
  • Brand Manager
  • CRM Manager
  • Customer Satisfaction Manager
  • Customer Service Representative
  • Database Analyst/Database Manager
  • Director of Market Development
  • Forecasting Manager
  • Frequency Marketing Specialist
  • Interviewer
  • Knowledge Management Specialist
  • Marketing Services Manager
  • Planning Analyst
  • Product Planner
  • Research Associate
  • Research Project Manager
  • Research Specialist/Manager
  • Strategic Planner

Since research-related positions often require specialized knowledge and skills, students should consider advanced education for the most opportunities in Marketing Research. However, skills learned in high school CTE programs help lay the groundwork and prepare students for future opportunities.


Prepare Your Students for Success in Marketing Careers

The Marketing career cluster is just one of 16 clusters in Career and Technical Education (CTE). However, who pursue careers in Marketing pathways can have varied and successful careers in organizations throughout the country.

In this article, you've learned more about the Marketing career cluster and its critical role in corporate and nonprofit operations. You've also discovered the five pathways that handle different aspects of marketing and sales processes, along with specific careers CTE graduates pursue in these areas.

But regardless of which pathway students choose, many educators have found that the best way to teach their learners is with a comprehensive curriculum. The iCEV Business, Marketing, Finance, IT, and Media curriculum includes everything you need to teach courses throughout these CTE pathways and set students up for success.

To discover what courses you can teach with iCEV, visit the Marketing curriculum page. You’ll be able to learn more about iCEV to decide if it’s right for your program:

Visit the iCEV Marketing Curriculum Page