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Media Buyer Job Description, Career as a Media Buyer, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training Bachelor's degree and specialized training or on-the-job training

Salary Median—$56,279 per year

Employment Outlook Very good

Definition and Nature of the Work

Media buyers work for advertising agencies and media-buying agencies. They buy advertising space in magazines or newspapers and purchase advertising time on radio or television. Depending on the kind of media in which they work, they may be called space buyers or time buyers.

Media buyers are specialists who are acquainted with the costs of various media. They collect information about the kinds of audiences that can be reached by the different media and the approximate size of those audiences. In advertising agencies media buyers work with account executives to establish a plan for reaching the greatest number of potential customers at the lowest cost to the client. For example, an advertising account executive and a media buyer might decide to use a combination of radio and newspaper advertising. The agency must gain the approval of the client before the plan is put into action. Media buyers then negotiate agreements with the media sales workers employed by newspapers, magazines, cable services, and radio and television stations.

Media buyers who work for media-buying agencies are responsible for tracking down and buying space in print publications, radio, or television markets. They then package and resell this space to advertising agencies or directly to individual companies. Media-buying agencies save ad agencies and companies the time and trouble involved with having to find and buy ad space themselves.

Education and Training Requirements

Employers generally prefer to hire college graduates who have a degree in advertising, liberal arts, marketing, or business administration. Previous experience in advertising or sales is useful preparation for the job.

Advertising agency and media-buying agency workers generally progress to jobs as media buyers from other positions in a firm. Some begin as clerks or assistants. Many large agencies offer formal training programs that prepare new workers for advancement. At other agencies workers learn through on-the-job experience. Some media buyers start as media sales workers before going to work for an advertising agency or media-buying agency.

Getting the Job

Prospective media buyers should apply directly to the advertising agencies and media-buying agencies for which they would like to work. Newspaper want ads and Internet job sites sometimes list openings in advertising agencies. Private employment agencies can also be helpful in finding a job.

Media buyers work for advertising agencies and negotiate advertising space in newspapers and magazines and on radio and television stations. (© Earl Dotter. Reproduced by permission.)

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Advancement is based on experience and performance on the job. Media buyers with specialized knowledge may be able to command higher salaries or move into management positions in their firms. Other buyers may transfer to larger agencies and handle higher-budgeted accounts.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of most nonadministrative support workers in the advertising industry was expected to increase faster than the average for all occupations between 2004 and 2014. The increase will be due in large part to the continued expansion of cable television advertising time and Internet advertising space. Despite the positive outlook, applicants for jobs as media buyers are likely to face stiff competition.

Working Conditions

Media buyers work in comfortable offices within an advertising or media-buying agency. They usually work forty hours a week or more, but they may be required to put in extra hours to meet deadlines or arrange contracts. Media buyers generally have a great deal of contact with clients and media sales workers. Like other advertising workers, they work under considerable pressure.

Where to Go for More Information

American Advertising Federation
1101 Vermont Ave. NW, Ste. 500
Washington, DC 20005-6306
(202) 898-0089

American Association of Advertising Agencies
405 Lexington Ave., 18th Fl.
New York, NY 10174-1801
(212) 682-2500

Earnings and Benefits

Earnings for media buyers vary depending on their education, experience, and the location and size of the firm for which they work. According to Salary.com media buyers made a median annual salary of $56,279 in 2006. Benefits generally include paid vacations and holidays, life and health insurance, and retirement plans.

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesSales & Marketing