Rise to the Top—CMO Requirements

Do you want to rise to the top?  Perhaps you will one day become CEO, CMO, or some other executive of a company.  Even though I believe your potential is limitless, there are statistical realities that need to be considered today for success tomorrow.

For instance, I researched on LinkedIn career trajectories for Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) for large, medium, and small-sized companies.  Here’s what I found:

Companies with 500+ Employees

A CMO of a company with over 500 employees, will typically need the following educational credentials and experience:

They need to start their career off in a managerial role as soon as possible.  They don’t seem to need much education, though—typically just a degree in marketing.

But to get away with this limited education, about fifteen-years-or-more experience in the industry is needed.  Otherwise, they may need a master’s degree.  As well, they’ll likely want to stay within the same industry.  For instance, to apply this, if you gain a managerial role in restaurant marketing, aim to acquire more and more senior managerial roles in restaurant marketing.

Some examples?  Let’s look at CMO’s with fifteen plus years of experience.

A person can get a VP and Marketing Director role with just a Bachelor of Commerce (BComm) and 25 years of experience in director or manager roles.  Public speaking and book and article publications also help.

A person can become a CMO with a two-year Bachelor of Arts in advertising and marketing and 17 years in senior marketing roles.

A person can become CMO with a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degree and 15 years of experience exclusively in the restaurant industry.

As for fifteen-or-less years’ experience?  You may need a master’s degree.   I found a person can become a CMO with a BA in Economics, an MBA, and a digital marketing certificate along with 12 years experience in senior roles in sales or marketing.

A person can become CMO with a master’s in marketing, a master’s in PR, and a BComm along with 10 years of experience in senior roles.

Companies with 50 to 500 employees

To become a CMO of a company with 50 to 500 employees the education requirements can be less demanding, such as a certificate or diploma, but the years of experience still seem to be above 7 years in primarily senior roles, particularly for the bigger companies.

Examples of this include a CMO with a Marketing Certificate and a Diploma in Advertising and Marketing with 18 years experience in a variety of positions, some non-senior but most senior level, ranging from business development to marketing roles.

Alternatively, you can become a CMO with a BComm and brand and digital strategy certification and 20 years experience in senior marketing roles or entrepreneurial roles, starting off in a non-senior marketing research role.

Still, a person can also become a CMO with a BComm and a minor in computer science and a one-year term at a college of art and design.  The experience need only be seven years with only two years in managerial roles.

Companies with 0 to 50 employees

What about a small company?  Then you will benefit from having a degree, but may only need two years experience on the job, and not necessarily in senior roles.

Here are examples of the above:

ACMO for a company with 50 or less employees, needed only a BA and a Graduate Diploma in Education.  But that also needed 13 years experience in one or two senior leadership roles as well as non-managerial roles.

You may alternatively need a BComm and a post-graduate course in marketing plus 12 years experience in either leadership or marketing roles.

Still, you may be able to get a CMO role with a BBA with 2 years experience, each trivial job lasting six months, almost all of which have nothing to do with marketing.


So to become a CMO, I found that bigger companies seem to consistently require you have a degree and over ten years experience, almost exclusively in marketing-related managerial roles.  Mid-sized companies don’t seem to require as much education, although experience is essential.  Small-sized companies may not require much relevant experience.

But no matter what you see above, there is always a phenomenon called “outliers.”  Outliers are cases that don’t fit the mould.  And as outliers exist in most any population, you may still have the ability to become CMO of one of these companies without all the requisites.