The link between having higher qualifications and bigger salaries in the marketing sector has been indicated by our new research - and it may lead to a change in attitudes towards the value of further study.
Marketers who have postgraduate degrees can earn nearly 15 per cent more than those who are not as highly qualified, the research showed, with the average salary for this group being £62,524 per year. This compares with the average marketing salary of £53,146 - a difference of £9,378.
There is also a difference in bonuses, with those who have postgraduate qualifications receiving payments equivalent to 17 per cent of their annual salaries, compared with the industry average of 13 per cent.
Such findings will challenge the thinking of most marketers, with 80 per cent of those polled saying they did not believe seeking further qualifications was important for their career progression.
The advantage for postgraduates does not depend on this higher qualification being marketing-related, with banking, business and administration also providing an uplift to salaries.
However, there was a difference in outcomes between specific types of postgraduate qualification; those with professional credentials from the Chartered Institute of Marketing typically earned 2.2 per cent extra, whereas those with MBA qualifications were paid £76,738 on average, 43 per cent more than the typical salary. This group also saw greater bonuses, worth 25 per cent of annual pay.
These developments are driven by two factors. One of these is the increasing use of digital marketing and the need for professionals to be able to adjust to new channels and consumer trends, something postgraduate training may provide. The second is a premium placed on MBA qualifications, as the skills taught in such courses are the most highly regarded in the current climate.
Explaining this, EMR director Charlie Fey said: "The reality is that the role of the marketer has changed significantly over the last five years, which is seen in the importance marketers now attribute to a digital element in marketing qualifications.
"But there's also much more pressure for marketers to produce a tangible and demonstrable ROI and today they are required to have as much an analytical head as a creative head - hence the value of post-grad qualifications and the particular premium attached to an MBA."
For most marketers, the prevailing view is that digital media skills are not taught well enough in courses, with only 21 per cent regarding the level of qualifications on offer as "adequate".
Despite their overall scepticism about postgraduate study, marketers are increasingly aware of the need to improve their digital skills and knowledge, with 66 per cent planning to receive more training in this area in the next 12 months - nearly twice the 35 per cent of last year.
This may reflect the survey findings that digital specialists are growing within marketing departments, rising from five per cent of all staff in 2010 and 2011 to 25 per cent in the past 12 months.
However, in the long run this development may push down salaries in some areas if there is an abundance of experts, for example within social media. By contrast, areas like coding and the understanding of paid and natural search still have skill shortages, therefore offering better opportunities for higher pay.