What it is

Marketing is raising awareness of products, services and brands among customers and other key audiences—and understanding how those key audiences perceive those things. Marketing has a creative side (writing ad copy, developing apps, planning campaigns) and an analytics side (understanding consumer perceptions, analyzing market data). The analytics side of marketing, sometimes referred to as business intelligence, market research, or customer insights, is a place where STEM PhDs can shine. Both sides work together in a never-ending cycle: market information in, messages out. Not all marketing positions are in for-profits; large non-profits and institutions also have marketers on staff, or use marketing firms on a contract basis.

Starting points

A PhD scientist might start as some form of analyst. In the marketing of scientific products specifically, s/he might start as a data analyst or scientific specialist. Extroverted life scientists might enjoy promoting biotechnology products directly to doctors and others in the medical profession as a liaison.


You can move up to the Director level within your area, cross over into other companies and industries, work for a dedicated marketing firm, or move up into business development and from there to upper management.


All STEM disciplines can potentially enter Marketing, as there are roles for many skill sets, and skills will always trump subject matter expertise.

Personality and outlook

You don’t necessarily have to be highly outgoing, especially in analytics, but you must have an entrepreneurial streak, be good at working with others, have strong skills relating to the type of position you are applying for, and be genuinely interested in business.


For the analytics side, work with large data sets whenever possible. Choose projects that allow you to practice identifying patterns in data, finding new information about specific groups of people, and explaining complex findings to others in a way that helps them create well-targeted messages. Read business publications for articles relating to marketing and business intelligence.

Real Life Examples