Job Description

Advertising account executives (AE) are the liaison between the client and the creative team to ensure the client's needs and goals are being met on every project. The AEs are the ones responsible for managing the relationship between the client and the advertising agency.

What is an advertising agency?

An advertising agency is client service-based business that creates and plans advertising and other forms of promotion for its clients. They may be hired to product television commercials, online/print/billboard ads, and radio commercials. Their clients include businesses, non-profits, and government agencies.

Rewarding Aspects of Career

“As an account person, you get to work with everyone internally and externally. It's interesting to see how different teams work and approach problems. You also get to see the work through from the beginning to the end, most teams touch the work at specific stages, but we get to see an idea or conversation get turned into a TV spot or an entire campaign!” Lisa Wang, Brand Director, TBWA\Media Arts Lab

The Inside Scoop
Day in the Life

“Typically, my day encompasses of client meetings, internal team meetings, and project management. It can be a blessing and a curse, but each day is different. Because we are a client service based industry, there are also inevitable last minute fire drills and urgent requests that need to be addressed.” Lisa Wang, Brand Director, TBWA\Media Arts Lab

Typical Tasks

  • Manages the client’s ad budget and make sure the team is on schedule and on budget.
  • Checks the status of each client's job(s) in the creative department and keeps the clients informed of the developments.
  • Initiates new jobs for the client and manages the pitches.
  • Reviews and presents concepts/layouts/copy to the client for approval.
  • Communicates the client's feedback to the creative department and discusses the next steps in the campaign.
Skills Needed on the Job
  • Ability to communicate clearly both verbally and in writing.
  • Must be well organized: you will be juggling many different accounts and many different people.
  • Excellent people skills and the ability to work with a wide range of people.
  • Professionalism: verbal, written and presentation.
  • Good under pressure and time constraints.
Where do they work?
  • Advertising Agencies
  • In-house: If you move in-house, you shift into a marketing role. The primary difference being that once you are in-house, you are accountable for that company's profitability and to its shareholders. Being at an agency means you focus more on the creative solution to your client's business challenges.
Expectations/Sacrifices Necessary

“This is definitely not a job that gives you a predictable 9-to-5 day. You need to be willing to stay later and work weekends from time to time, but it's usually cyclical and good management will make sure you're being balanced in the long run.”
“It's also an environment filled with characters, some good and some... challenging! Any creative setting is going to have some egos and very strong opinions, but that's part of what makes a good account person: being able to work with the personalities and get the best out of them.” 

Education Needed

Bachelor’s Degree recommended.

  • Suggested Majors: Advertising, Marketing, Business.
Things to do in High School and College
  • Intern: “An internship is invaluable! As much as you can study advertising, nothing beats seeing it with your own eyes. It'll help you get a sense of how an agency runs and how the teams work together (along with the usual copies and meeting prep).” 
  • Stay on top of industry news: “Whether it's through AdAge, Creativity or other sources, know agency news and trends. Much of what goes on in the ad world bleeds into pop culture, current events and new tech. It's important to understand how advertising is relevant outside agency walls.” 
Education Stats
  • 13.5% with HS Diploma
  • 8.1% with Associate’s
  • 47.1% with Bachelor’s
  • 6.2% with Master’s
  • 0.7% with Professional
Typical Roadmap
Advertising Account Executive roadmap gif
How to Land your 1st job
  • Better chance to find an internship or entry-level position if you move to the following cities: New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, or Portland.
  • Set up informational interviews across the city and meet with as many people as possible.
    • Use LinkedIn and your alumni database to e-mail people for an informational interview.
  • Apply for an internship.  
  • Before the interview, research the potential employers’ clients and any awards they have received in past 5 years.
  • The first full-time job title you will be applying to will be either an Assistant Account Executive or Account Coordinator.
How to stay competitive and climb the ladder

Moving up in an advertising agency means responsibility for more client accounts, increased interaction with senior members of the client marketing team and increased focus on contracting new clients and account so in order to climb the ladder you must be able to do those things. Here are some things to help you do that:  

  • Network!
  • Ask clients and superiors for feedback: things they liked about your work, things that they believe you could have done better.
  • “One of the most important things as an account person is your ability to work with people, above and below you. Honing your people skills is tougher to do in a classroom setting, but crucial to school organizations, team sports or any other setting that requires collaboration and leadership. These same skills and attitudes will help you work across different teams and clients in the agency world.”
  • Stay current with the trends: advertising and marketing means you have to know what’s going on in not just your city or country but also the world.
  • Specialize in a niche: be the go-to person for something (a certain minority group advertising, online advertising).
Recommended Tools/Resources

Trade Magazines


Plan B

Alternate careers: Marketing Executive, Public Relations Executive.

Words of Advice

“Always remember you can't do it alone! Make sure you're setting yourself up for success by having solid mentors that embody characteristics that are important to you. And when looking for or starting a new job, have a clear set of goals in mind. It's easier to find the right opportunities if you know what's important for you to achieve in your next steps.” Lisa Wang, Brand Director, TBWA\Media Arts Lab


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Advertising Account Executive Gladeographix


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Source: Interview, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Payscale

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