Affiliate Marketing: College
If you spend any time viewing affiliate marketing-related websites, you have no doubt seen the advertisements from the University of San Francisco for their 8-week, fully online "Internet Marketing Certificate." These ads are all over the place.
But is affiliate marketing really something you can learn in college, or are programs like this merely another attempt by America's higher education industry to get as much money as they can, any way they can?
USF Program Looks Good
The University of San Francisco affiliate marketing education option has some good things going for it, as exemplified by the extremely good-looking female professor that greets you by video upon your arrival at the course description page.
Also appealing are the salaries listed for jobs in the Internet marketing field:
-- SEO Manager: $69K
-- SEM Manager: $81K
-- Social Media Marketing Manager: $77K
Plus, the University of San Francisco is headquartered in the Bay Area, so you will have access to real players in the Internet marketing field, rather than a collection of professors who know how to teach it but don't know how to do it.
What's more, at about $2,400 per 8-week course, the cost is not particularly outrageous when compared to alternatives.
However, there are a few questionable aspects of this program. Number one, it bills itself as a "master certificate," and that it may be, but a master certificate, it should be noted by you, is something very different from a master degree. Note that well, please.
Secondly, the prospective student must understand that one 8-week course is not going to teach you everything you need to know; rather, USF wants you to take one 8-week course, then another 8-week course, then another 8-week course, and you get the idea here.
Affiliate Marketing Best Learned by Experience
This is not to knock the USF program or any other affiliate marketing college education, but everyone who has ever worked in affiliate marketing knows that the best way to learn how to do affiliate marketing is to, well, actually do affiliate marketing.
Real world experience and proof of accomplishment count much more than certificates and degrees in the world of affiliate marketing and online marketing in general.
When you apply for a job as a "Social Media Manager," for instance, you should expect that the person interviewing you will want to see and hear about specific social media campaigns that you've personally managed.
If you augment your university education with actually doing what you hope to do--for instance, you use school to build out your own sites--you can expect to be taken seriously.
However, if you are holding the piece of paper but don't have the websites to back it up, it will be tough to compete with people who live and breathe the stuff and have the profits to prove it.
No Shortage of Affiliate Marketing Education
One of the main selling points that USF uses to convince prospective students that they can benefit from getting this degree is to point out the lack of formal education in the online marketing industry.
This may technically be true, but the key word that makes this statement a mainly "technical" truth is "formal."
That is, there may be and probably is a lack of formal education in the online marketing industry. But there is absolutely no lack whatsoever of education in the online marketing industry.
Indeed, you can educate yourself into master degree shape just by reading affiliate marketing articles and blogs freely available on the Internet! There are a plethora of self-education courses, conferences, and books that can help you round out your knowledge of affiliate marketing.
Again, this is not to say that affiliate marketing is not a subject suitable for college courses, nor are we claiming that USF's program is a rip-off or a joke. All we are saying here is that colleges are, as of now, neither the only nor primary source of affiliate marketing education.