Classes are running in-person (socially distanced) and live online. Secure your seat today
The Product Manager oversees the development of large and complex products, the team that develops the product, as well as the budget and timeline of the product in development. The type of company, the product being developed, and the company culture will all dictate the actual day to day responsibilities of a Product Manager. Product Managers may focus on marketing, growth, physical products, a specific industry, or data. This specialization will determine everything from necessary skills and technological proficiency to salary. Product Managers usually work long weeks with a team of Developers, Designers, marketers, UX and UI professionals, and upper-level management.
Depending on the phase of the product’s development the Product Manager might be identifying problems and solving them, analyzing data and end-user needs, conducting prospective audience or end-user interviews, planning and prioritizing tasks, organizing projects within the development cycle, making budget decisions, overseeing team members, organizing and attending meetings, managing help-desk tickets, working through contracts, hiring and firing, presenting findings and progress, liaising with leadership, overseeing marketing and design, and managing changes as they come. Product managers focus on organization, planning, managing teams, and making quick but informed decisions.
Product Managers must be skilled communicators who are willing to delegate. Building a good rapport with your product team is of the utmost importance. The Product Manager must also be extremely adaptable and thrive in a fast-paced environment. If you’re working in a startup environment, you’ll also need to be flexible and willing to take on extra tasks that may not normally be a specialized Product Manager’s responsibility.
Product Managers must make informed decisions for their product to succeed. This means that they must be doing the up front research to understand the needs and wants of the end-user, the business’ goals and KPIs, the market their product is in, and current relevant technologies. This means that the Product Manager will have a direct hand in user experience research, development planning and architecture, and business decisions.
You’ll need to have high-level knowledge of every piece of the product’s lifecycle and ideally some in-depth knowledge about user experience, and product development. Product Managers will need a high-level understanding of marketing, iteration, the product life cycle, the SWOT analysis method, creating milestones and timelines, managing a budget, product design, distribution strategy, customer and end-user analysis, reports, and sale forecasting as well. Some companies will expect the Product Manager to be certified in agile development if they will be working with any type of computer application.
You might be using technologies like Microsoft Office, a project management software tool, data visualization like Tableau, and CRM tools but these will vary with each employer and project. You should also familiarize yourself with the technology stack (coding languages and technologies) that your development team is using if you plan to specialize in a web or software product.
Active listening, presentation skills, acceptance of critical feedback, addressing objections, emotional intelligence, maintaining composure under pressure, collaboration, and fantastic written communication are soft skills that the Product Manager should possess. The Product Manager is a multifaceted position that will wear many hats throughout the life cycle of a product’s development. Many recruiters live by the standard, “Technologies can be taught, soft skills are natural.” So coming into the job search with your soft skills honed in some way will be important for the interview process in any Product Manager position.
Web development is the practice of building, creating, and maintaining websites. Web development uses coding languages to build a website for the internet.
Project management is the practice of leading a team's work through planning and team management to meet a goal and deadline with a completed project.
Product management is the combination of project management and technical skills to plan, analyze, and maximize the effectiveness of a product. This process includes the development of business strategies, functional design, and management of the launch of new features.
The most common project management certifications are awarded by the Project Management Institute (PMI). These professional certifications ensure your ability to meet the demands of projects and employers by creating rigorous standards based on ongoing research. Some certifications include Project Management Professional (PMP), Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM), and the PMI Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA).
A Product Manager in the United States makes, on average, $102,395 annually, according to Indeed.com.
Salaries for Product Managers vary by region within the the United States. Listed below are some Product Manager salaries for specific areas with the United States compared with the average national salary:
Product Management as a stand-alone career is relatively nascent. Many Product Managers began as junior- or mid-level employees who decided to start their own product-based company. Others went to business school and worked their way up from a junior position to Product Management by learning more about each team they worked with and taking on leadership roles as often as they could. Still, others might have begun with only a certificate and a position at a startup company.
Product Managers can receive a certification from the Project Management Institute (PMI) for Product Management or Agile Product Management. This is a strong addition to any Product Manager’s resume and does carry clout in the job search. There are also courses and bootcamps that can jumpstart your product management career. A four-year degree is not required but may be preferred by many companies.
Product Managers can find employment in any product- or service-based industry. They usually work full-time onsite but can sometimes find remote or consultant work. There are niche job boards specifically for product development and product management. Some job boards are jobs specifically for women in the product space. But Product Managers can find a role on almost any general job board.
You can find Product Manager positions on these sites:
Job seekers looking for Product Management positions should focus on industries in which they have at least some experience. This makes it easier to obtain a foundation of knowledge to make informed decisions and show that you are a good fit during interviews. Your resume should be clean and customized for each role they apply for. Learning how to utilize LinkedIn to the fullest capacity will likely also help you find a job quickly.
New Product Managers with minimal experience might find the best jobs for them at Startups where they can begin with relative authority and learn quickly. Going directly for Product Manager positions without your own product may be a risky and unattainable move if you don’t have any experience, though. Beginning with a Project Manager or Senior position in your current career path or something similar are great stepping stones to the higher-paying position of Product Manager. Accepting positions at startups is typically the fastest way to go from entry-level Project Manager to high ranking Product Manager positions. Consider looking for Product Management positions in fields you’ve already worked in so that you can leverage your transferable skills and knowledge in interviews.M/p>
The most popular tip for landing a Product Management job, especially in tech, is demonstrating your skills through a passion project. Whether it’s a hypothetical side project that you share in the form of a series of case studies on a blog; videos, blog posts, or podcast episodes about your hypothetical or real side project; or even actually creating your own real product, recruiters will be impressed with your initiative and thought process transparency. A passion project can be a great way to beef up your portfolio and resume if you’re lacking in material for them.
When starting a passion project, make sure that you clearly demonstrate that you’re taking consistent action, you’ve put together a plan and you’re willing to change it when necessary, and that you’re out to finish what you started. You can create anything from a hypothetical product to a blog to a functioning application! It all depends on your own creativity and the amount of time you can commit to this project. You may even ask your friends to join in! Whatever you choose, be sure to do all of the work a Product Manager would do to show off your skills and expertise. Check out the skills section above for a solid checklist.
Depending on their specialization, Product Managers can look for positions in a variety of fields and settings. From startups to corporate, tech to banking, you’ll find Product Management positions are growing in supply across the board. Rising in the ranks as a Product Manager will take time and dedication, but the dramatic salary increase between associate and vice president levels is well worth it. You may start as small as a Junior Developer or Associate Marketing Agent and end up in a vice president seat if you work hard or you may begin as a Project Manager and upskill your way to a higher position. Whatever you choose, the upward mobility possibilities are ample.
Here are some job titles you should look for as a Product Manager:
Product Managers generally oversee Project Managers, but some organizations combine that role. A Product Manager’s main goal is to deliver a product that customers enjoy, can use with ease, and solves the originally outlined pain points over the lifetime of the product. The Product Manager focuses more on high-level strategies, business aspects of a product, and making informed decisions. On the other hand a Project Manager’s job is to oversee a fixed project from end to end or a small group of projects based on a strategy that is determined by a Product Manager or leadership team. The Project manager is most concerned with overseeing a team and executing the strategy set by their leadership to deliver a project on time and under budget.
Product Managers looking to change their careers might consider project or product management in another industry. For example, a tech specialized Product Manager might do well with switching to a role in the finance industry. They might instead find upward mobility within their career and rise in the ranks from Associate to Senior, Senior to Director, and all the way up to VP of Product or Chief Product Officer.
Software engineers use their extensive knowledge of user experience design, operating systems, and programming languages to develop software. They can create different types of software, from games to operating systems. After analyzing a client's needs, they design, develop, and test software to meet that need. Software engineers can be divided into two distinct career categories: application engineers and systems engineers.Learn about becoming a Software Engineer
Mobile developers are software developers who specialize in creating apps for mobile technology. Working with iOS and Android, mobile developers learn the programming languages specific for their chosen platform. They work with clients to identify the appearance and functionality required, and then use their development skills to create a functioning app. Mobile developers can work for organizations in business, healthcare, retail, entertainment, and much more.Learn about becoming a Mobile Developer
Project managers bear the responsibility of managing projects from launch to closing. They work in a variety of industries, from construction to information technology. With broad oversight on budgeting, planning, risk management and scheduling, project managers provide leadership and guidance throughout the project term. Project managers are in high demand and enjoy competitive salaries and compensation.Learn about becoming a Project Manager
Full Stack Developers build web applications for both the visible front end that users see and the back end that powers the applications.Learn about becoming a Full Stack Developer