What Does an Advertising Agency Account Executive Do?
Learn About the Salary, Required Skills, & More
An account executive, also sometimes called an AE, is something of a "middleman" between clients and the creative department in an advertising agency. A great account executive is the glue that holds an entire project together.
Account executives facilitate the exchange of information between the agency and the client from the time a client first initiates a request until that campaign is live and the results are being collated. Clients have demands, and the account executive takes care of them. Account executives must be on top of the timing of every project, meeting crucial print and broadcast deadlines.
Advertising Account Executive Duties & Responsibilities
There's no "typical day" in advertising. This industry experiences daily—if not hourly—challenges and emergencies. But a typical working month for an advertising account executive will usually include the following duties:
- Meet with clients often to discuss current and future projects.
- Write briefs for the creative director and the creative department.
- Formulate advertising and marketing strategies.
- Define advertising budgets for clients.
- Present the findings of client meetings to the agency.
- Present creative work to the client, including new business pitches.
- Take care of day-to-day administration duties and tasks.
- Organize and lead focus groups and brainstorming sessions.
An account director will typically oversee the bigger picture, ensuring that the AE isn't overwhelmed to the point of burning out.
Advertising Agency Account Executive Salary
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) includes agency account executives in its data for advertising and promotions managers. Those who work for advertising services are the most highly compensated, however, earning a median salary of $134,780 annually as of 2018. Overall, the median incomes for advertising and promotions managers in 2018 were:
- Median Annual Salary: $117,130 ($56.31/hour)
- Top 10% Annual Salary: More than $208,000 ($100.00/hour)
- Bottom 10% Annual Salary: Less than $57,150 ($27.47/hour)
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018
Seasoned, professional account executives can earn big salaries and can go on to become partners in advertising agencies.
Education, Training & Certification
Those looking for careers as agency account executives should ideally have a college degree and related experience.
- Education: A typical account executive will have a four-year college degree in advertising, communication, journalism, business administration, marketing, finance, accounting, or economics. Many advertising agencies look for candidates with a master's degree in one of these fields as a result of increased competition for the job and a flooded marketplace.
- Internship: Although it's not necessarily required, interning at an ad agency will help you get your foot in the door and give experience you can use on your resume.
- On-the-job Training: If you have no formal education, you might begin working at a smaller ad agency in another role, such as an administrative assistant or other entry-level position. Just be sure to let your boss know that you want to learn other facets of the industry so you can begin understanding how the various positions in the agency work together.
Advertising Account Executive Skills & Competencies
Certain qualities and skills will help you succeed as an AE:
- Communication skills: You'll need the ability to communicate clearly both verbally and in writing.
- Organizational skills: You'll be charged with overseeing several projects, and different aspects of projects, so a knack for organization is vital.
- Interpersonal skills: Excellent people skills and the ability to work with a wide range of people are important.
- Professional appearance and persona: In many respects, you're the face of your agency.
- Nerves of steel: You must be able to handle pressure well.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics anticipates job growth for advertising, promotions, and marketing managers of 10% through 2026. This is somewhat faster than all occupations, but those dealing predominantly with newspaper publishing might not fare as well because electronic media continues to push this industry aside.
You can expect to travel a lot to attend print and video shoots, and this includes both national and international destinations. You will also be invited to endless client functions, as well as creative and agency events.
Great account executives will often find themselves dealing with two or three different clients at one time, which can cause untold stress if the AE isn't adequately prepared.
More than 30% of all advertising, promotions, and marketing managers worked more than 40 hours a week in 2016, according to the BLS. They'll arrive at the agency before everyone else to ensure that clients' calls are answered, and they'll often be at the agency long after all other departments have left for the day for the same reason. Be prepared to work long hours, especially under tight deadlines.
How to Get the Job
Comparing Similar Jobs
Some similar jobs and their median annual pay include:
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018