How to Become an SEM Manager

SEM Manager Key Stats
Avg. Salary / year $122,370
Avg. Pay / hour $58.83
Education 3-4 Years
Job Outlook 32%

SEM Managers are also referred to as Search Engine Marketing Managers or as Search Marketing Strategists and have a vast knowledge of search engines and how to use them for marketing purposes.

These individuals have a combination of experience in the marketing field, as well as the internet and search engine websites and strive to drive paid internet traffic to their websites, products and services.

Individuals who want to become an SEM Manager will need a combination of online marketing experience, an educational degree and some personal characteristics in order to succeed in this profession.

Some commonly sought after personal characteristics can include the following: detail oriented to be able to read data analysis reports, analytical skills to help draw conclusions from data analysis reports and communication skills in order to interpret data.

Education Requirements to Become an SEM Manager

Individuals who want to become an SEM Manager will need to fulfill educational requirements, gain some experience in marketing and have business acumen in order to enter this profession.

Individuals who attain a certification also have better job prospects but this step is typically optional.

In addition, individuals will need to familiarize themselves with the internet and internet marketing in order to succeed in this profession.

Individuals will need to complete a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in order to become an SEM Manager.

Individuals are encouraged to study business, marketing, marketing research, computer science or a closely related field.

Degrees in this field typically have a strong curriculum in statistics, marketing, computer science and math.

Individuals pursuing this field are encouraged to gain on the job experience in the field either while enrolled in school or at an entry level position.

Individuals pursing an internship or entry level position are encouraged to seek an opportunity in sales, marketing or business.

Individuals are also encouraged to seek training opportunities in which they can gather reporting data, analyzing data or writing reports.

Larger employers are more likely to seek individuals who have an advanced degree such as a master’s for higher level positions.

Individuals can pursue a Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) or a master’s degree in statistics, marketing or marketing research.

Individuals who want to become an SEM Manager also have the option to join organizations such as SEMPO.

There are also Google AdWords Certification courses that many companies like to see completed when evaluating candidates.

You can find more information here: Google AdWords Certification

SEM Manager Job Description

SEM Managers are responsible for driving paid online traffic to their client’s websites using internet marketing techniques.

They will begin by creating a strategic plan, collecting research from search engine analytics and determining the internet marketing techniques to use for a marketing plan.

SEM Managers will use a variety of marketing techniques in order to attract internet users to their website, products and services.

Some common search engine marketing tasks can include the following:

  • Keyword research
  • Building campaigns
  • Writing ad copy
  • Landing page optimization
  • Campaign optimization
  • Keyword bid optimization
  • Reporting

SEM Managers will work in conjunction with many other professionals including their client’s and other marketing professionals such as SEO Managers, Market Research Analysts and Marketing Managers.

Together, these individuals will create an overall marketing campaign that will draw the most users.

SEM Manager Salary and Career Path

Exact wages will depend on a variety of factors including years of experience, educational background and geographical location.

Entry level positions can range from $30,000-$50,000, while manager level, director level, and above can range between $60,000-$250,000+ depending on location and the size of the company’s SEM program.

The job outlook for SEM Managers is expected to grow at a faster than average rate when compared to other professions.

Job opportunities for this field are projected to increase by 32 percent through the year 2022.

This growth is attributed to the vast improvements in technology and in increase in access to the internet; marketing directors are developing ways to use the internet for marketing purposes and understand their customers.

A career as an SEM Manager can be a perfect fit for individuals who have a passion for both marketing and the internet.

These individuals will create internet marketing strategic plans and implement them in order to drive traffic to their websites.

Because the internet and its users are ever evolving, individuals who like to analyze and solve problems can be a good fit for this profession.

BLSThe below information is based on the 2021 BLS national averages.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary


Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
District of Columbia$166,530
New Hampshire$145,120
New Jersey$179,320
New Mexico$114,800
New York$190,760
North Carolina$141,600
North Dakota$132,800
Rhode Island$165,870
South Carolina$130,240
South Dakota$143,240
West Virginia$102,920
Puerto Rico$89,970

The top earning state in the field is New York, where the average salary is $190,760.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

New York - $190,760
New Jersey - $179,320
California - $175,150
Delaware - $171,420
Virginia - $169,990
* Salary information based on the May 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Marketing Managers, OCC Code 11-2021, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a SEM manager do?

An SEM manager is a search engine marketing specialist that uses organic traffic (SEO) and paid traffic results to promote a certain company or business.

SEM managers can control certain algorithms that determine the rankings (the order in which the site of the business appears in Google).

The closer the SEM manager will be able to get the page to the top position – the better.

The typical tasks of these experts usually include testing and managing different marketing campaigns; using PPC (pay-per-click) advertising; doing keyword research, and so on.

The main aim of an SEM manager is to help the company increase its overall revenue and, in some cases, increase the return on investment of paid advertising.

How much do SEM managers make?

On average, an SEM manager can make a little more than $68.000 per year in the United States.

In case you decide to choose this career path, you can expect to earn anywhere between $47.000 and $94.000 annually.

The salary would certainly depend on a variety of factors – your education and experience level, the client, the location, and so on.

The professionals that work in California, New York, and Washington, for example, have the highest average salaries.

An entry-level SEM manager can earn around $53.000 per year, while a top-level specialist with plenty of experience can make $77.000 and more per year.

How much does it cost to become a SEM manager?

In most cases, you would need a bachelor’s degree in marketing, business, communications, information technology or a related field in order to become an SEM manager.

A year in a university can cost you anywhere between $8.000 and $45.000 (and more); the cost depends on a variety of factors (bear in mind that the books, supplies, and accommodation expenses are not included).

There are plenty of SEM courses available online; you can complete one that offers certification for around $220.

What is the demand for SEM managers?

The rise of mobile platforms and social media will only increase the need for SEM specialists.

Even though you would typically expect an SEM manager to work in the marketing industry, the truth is that nowadays experts can be found in every field.

Practically every business is relying on an SEM manager to enhance their rankings; as there are more and more businesses and companies emerging in the United States nowadays, the demand for SEM managers will continue to grow.

The candidates that possess a degree and plenty of experience will have better chances of getting the highest-paid job.

How long does it take to become a SEM manager?

It will take you 4 years to obtain a bachelor’s degree, in case you decide to go for one.

You can consider seeking an internship during your last year in university to get that on-job experience as the majority of employers prefer the candidates to have at least a few years of experience.

An SEM manager should be ready to update his or her skills on a regular basis, as the industry is changing extremely fast.

Some SEM certification courses last for only a month, in case you decide to acquire a certificate online.

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

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