SEO Jobs: Types, Salary, and How to Get Started

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

In search engine optimization (SEO) jobs, you’ll help companies and organizations increase the traffic to their website to drive sales, visibility, messaging, and more. Learn more about SEO jobs, average pay, job outlook, and education requirements.

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Search engine optimization (SEO), is a term describing the set of best practices to help websites be found easily by relevant users. When a user types a query into a search bar, the search engine uses a process to determine which websites to return to the user and in what order they appear. Search engine optimization practices increase traffic to websites by helping them appear in search results, making it more likely that search engine users will click on their website.

If you’re considering a career in SEO, you have options for which part of the process you’d like to be a part of. You can choose a versatile career like SEO strategist, where you may perform a variety of tasks, or you might have a more specialized job like SEO content writer focusing on one aspect of SEO. Below, you’ll find a description of seven careers within search engine optimization. 

What is SEO?

SEO stands for search engine optimization, and it refers to all the steps you can take to increase visibility and traffic to your website. SEO helps increase the amount of quality content on a website while making it easier for search engine users and website visitors to find the website and any answers to their pressing questions. SEO work includes researching keywords, creating optimized content, and helping to establish the website as an authority and trusted resource with optimized technical aspects to keep it running smoothly. 

Skill and education for SEO jobs

Although SEO is a specialized field, the industry isn’t regulated and standardized. For many SEO jobs, employers look for candidates with a bachelor’s degree in a field relevant to the position. For example, a director of SEO may need a business degree, while a technical SEO specialist may need to have a computer science degree. For typical SEO jobs, a marketing degree may be beneficial.

A certificate program or specialization in SEO can help you learn the skills you need to succeed in an SEO role and demonstrate those skills to potential employers. For example, in approximately six months, you can earn a Professional Certificate to strengthen your credentials. The Google Digital Marketing and E-Commerce Professional Certificate on Coursera provides a comprehensive look at project management and digital marketing as a whole. 

Additionally, UC Davis offers a Search Engine Optimization Specialization on Coursera that includes five courses and takes approximately five months to complete. After completing the program, you receive a shareable certificate and additional details to add to your resume. 

SEO jobs

Within the field, you’ll find many types of SEO jobs. Search engine optimization jobs typically involve a team, with various aspects of the SEO activities handled by different professionals. For example, an analyst or strategist directs SEO activities, a technical specialist builds optimized web pages, and a content writer creates web page content. Below, you’ll find some of the common SEO jobs available, plus the average annual salary, job outlook, and education requirements. 

Director of SEO

Average annual salary: $119,877 [1]

Job outlook: 10 percent growth [2]

Education requirements: A bachelor’s degree is common but not required

A director of SEO, sometimes called an SEO manager, oversees all of a company’s search engine optimization work, including keyword research, analyzing SEO performance, and managing projects and content. A director of SEO may manage a team of SEO professionals, such as content writers and technical SEO specialists. 

Director of SEO interview questions:

  • If members of your team were in a conflict, how would you handle it?

  • What’s your process like for keyword research, and what tools do you use?

  • What does your process for evaluating SEO performance look like?

  • Do you have experience managing ad campaigns? 

SEO consultant

Average annual salary: $54,064 [3]

Job outlook: 10 percent growth [2]

Education requirements: A bachelor’s degree is common but not required

An SEO consultant helps clients analyze, strategize, and deploy SEO best practices. As a consultant, you may work on a long-term basis with clients, or you might provide services for a shorter period or a specific objective. Although some employers may prefer a bachelor’s degree or other formal education, proven experience with SEO may be a more critical skill when working in a consultant role. 

SEO consultant interview questions:

  • Describe a time when you overcame a challenge in a previous role. 

  • What are the tools you rely on when evaluating SEO performance? 

  • What steps would you suggest taking to increase page rank?

  • How do you measure success? 

SEO analyst 

Average annual salary: $58,111 [4]

Job outlook: 19 percent growth [5]

Education requirements: A bachelor’s degree is common 

SEO analysts evaluate how websites are performing on search engine results and recommend improvements to increase traffic, visibility, or page interactions, depending on the organization’s goals. A bachelor’s degree is common, but prior SEO experience may be more beneficial for some employers. 

SEO analyst interview questions:

  • What does your process for keyword research look like?

  • Keeping up with trends is essential, how do you approach that?

  • What resources do you use to analyze SEO?

  • Which Google Analytics metrics are most important and why?

SEO strategist 

Average annual salary: $68,466 [6]

Job outlook: 10 percent growth [2]

Education requirements: A bachelor’s degree is common but not required

An SEO strategist is responsible for the overall SEO strategy that a company employs. This position could include researching keywords, optimizing content, or aspects of technical SEO. An SEO strategist is a catch-all title that often includes many different types of optimization. A similar role would be SEO manager. 

SEO strategist interview questions:

  • Describe an SEO success in a previous role.

  • What CMS have you worked with in the past?

  • How do you approach keyword research?

  • What are your favorite tools for evaluating website SEO performance? 

SEO sales 

Average annual salary: $82,142 [7]

Job outlook: 10 percent growth [2]

Education requirements: A bachelor’s degree is common but not required 

SEO sales representatives work with SEO or marketing agencies to sell search engine optimization services to other businesses and organizations. An SEO sales rep will be responsible for finding and following up on leads and otherwise walking customers through every stage of the sales cycle. A bachelor’s degree in business or marketing may be beneficial, but it's also common for employers to not require any formal education. 

SEO sales interview questions:

  • How does this position fit into your greater career goals? 

  • What personal qualities make you a good fit for a sales career? 

  • Describe a time when you made a difficult or tricky sale. 

  • How do you approach research target audiences? 

Technical SEO specialist 

Average annual salary: $52,885 [8]

Job outlook: 10 percent growth [2]

Education requirements: A bachelor’s degree is common but not required

A technical SEO specialist optimizes a website for search engines, which means making the website as functional as possible. For example, a tech specialist will make sure that all website links are working, the website is secure and optimized for speed, and ensure the XML sitemap is functioning. While a bachelor’s degree is commonly preferred, many potential employers want to see demonstrated SEO skills rather than a formal degree. 

Technical SEO interview questions:

  • What do you consider most important for ranking on Google? Why?

  • What tools do you use for evaluating website performance? 

  • Can you explain how SEO and SEM differ?

  • What is your process for increasing website backlinks?

SEO content writer 

Average annual salary: $46,499 [9]

Job outlook: 4 percent growth [10]

Education requirements: A bachelor’s degree is common but not required

SEO content writers create optimized content for websites. Optimized content includes carefully selected keywords used naturally in well-written articles, along with best practices for formatting and outlining the content. A bachelor’s degree in writing or marketing is commonly preferred but not always required. According to Zippia, 77 percent of content writers have a bachelor’s degree, and an additional 12 percent have earned a master’s degree [11]. 

SEO content writer interview questions:

  • What does your research process look like, and how do you evaluate sources? 

  • Please provide links to previously published work. 

  • What CMS have you worked with?

  • What topics do you specialize in? Why? 

Where to find SEO jobs

Finding a job in SEO starts by deciding what kind of role you want to take. Many of the careers you learned about in this article can be performed by working directly for a company, working for an agency that provides SEO services, or working as an independent professional. 

You can find SEO jobs on traditional job board websites like Indeed, Glassdoor, and ZipRecruiter. Alternatively, you can check with professional organizations like SEO USA for job listings specific to the industry. Job board sites like Upwork or Fiverr also offer SEO job listings with a bend towards short-term and contract work, although you can find many different types of work available. 

Get started on Coursera

If you’re ready to take the next step and gain SEO skills on Coursera, it might be worth taking a closer look at Google’s Project Management Professional Certificate. This six-month course helps you hone your digital marketing skills and knowledge. Another option is the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Specialization offered by UC Davis. This track takes five months to complete and helps you get career-ready.

You can also choose to take any of the five classes in the specialization individually. You can choose from Introduction to Google SEO, Google SEO Fundamentals, Optimizing a Website for Google Search, and Advanced Content and Social Tactics to Optimize SEO.

Article sources


1. Glassdoor. “Salary: Director of SEO,,15.htm.” Accessed May 12, 2023. 

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