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If you love the award-winning AMC show "Mad Men," you might wonder if a career in advertising is for you. One of the most important jobs in advertising is account executive (also known as an account handler), which generally involves keeping both the client and the agency's writers and designers happy. Other industries that employ account executives include marketing, public relations and recruitment.
Primarily a client-facing role, an account executive in an advertising or marketing agency attracts new clients and keeps current clients happy.
What Account Executives Do
As an account executive for an advertising agency, your daily tasks often revolve around the client, i.e. the company hiring the agency to create an advertising campaign. The account executive keeps in touch with the client at all stages of the campaign. This includes meeting clients to talk about their advertising needs, presenting campaign ideas and financial breakdowns to clients, negotiating with clients to resolve any issues and invoicing the client for work that has been completed.
An account executive also makes pitches to win new business, works closely with account planners to create a campaign that suits the client's brief and budget, briefs the creative team who will produce the campaign and checks the campaign's progress at regular intervals.
An account executive may have their own assistant (depending on the size of the company and their workload) and typically reports to an account supervisor or manager.
How to Become an Account Executive
While you don't need to have particular qualifications to become an account executive, it's a competitive industry and most employers will expect you to have a degree of some sort. A degree in advertising, marketing, statistics, communication and media studies, business, management or psychology might give you an edge over other applicants. Additionally, a proven history of successful advertising campaigns and industry experience allows you to work your way up in the business.
Employers may look for certain qualities in a potential account executive, such as adaptability, great communication and selling skills and the ability to multitask.
How Much Do You Make as an Account Executive?
A career as an account executive can be lucrative, with salary depending on experience. According to Chegg, the average account executive salary is $56,820 to $122,570. PayScale offers a slightly different range ($35,440 to $103,769) and notes that the most generous employer is International Business Machines (IBM) Corp., where the average salary is around $136,000. Other big payers include Procter & Gamble Co., Amazon.com Inc. and AT&T Inc. Some advertising firms offer bonuses, commissions and a share of profits on top of a basic salary.
Claire Gillespie is a writer and editor with experience in law, business and PR. She has written about careers for many websites, including SheKnows and Reader's Digest.