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How to Become a Product Manager

Dozens of people are involved in product development, from designers and developers to marketers. Product managers bring all of these disciplines together and coordinate the delivery of a new product to the market. If you want to know how to become a product manager, this article is for you. 

If you aspire toward product management, you better be ready to solve difficult problems, come up with ingenious strategies, and work with other teams to deliver the product. The upside is that product managers have access to strong career prospects and high salaries.

So, how exactly do you become a product manager? In this guide, we’ll answer that question, and give you all the information you need to decide whether a career in product management is for you. We’ll also give you resources on product manager salaries, training programs, and tips on how to find your first job as a product manager.

What Is a Product Manager?

A product manager is responsible for overseeing the development and launching of products and services. This entails working closely with development and marketing teams and creating plans and deadlines during product development. The product manager’s role doesn’t end with the product launch.

Product managers also oversee the maintenance of a product. This involves tracking the performance of a product after launch and taking notes on the successes and failures of the project. A product manager is also responsible for considering whether any updates should be released to older products or if a new version could be launched.

What Does a Product Manager Do?

Product managers are tasked with a wide range of duties, all connected to the goal of satisfying customers and increasing profit. A product manager can wear different hats depending on the goals and needs of the company. Below, you will see the three most common responsibilities for these professionals.

Market and Customer Analysis

A good product strategy is based on an assessment of the competition and the target customers. To gain an insight into consumer preferences, product managers consult consumption statistics and other resources. This information is used to create detailed product strategies.


Well-organized plans are crucial to achieving company goals. In this role, you must know your company's objectives and create an innovative program to reach these goals. You must be proficient in using project management software and organize meetings with the sales team to keep everyone on the same page.

Life Cycle Management

Product managers have to bring a product from conception to its official launch. This involves planning every stage of a product’s development process, which requires impressive organizational and leadership abilities.

Product Management Skills

The required skills to become a product manager cover a range of technical skills and soft skills. The skills needed for product management include strategy, design, analysis, teamwork, and leadership, to name a few. Below are the technical skills you need to achieve a successful product management career path.

Essential Technical Skills for Product Managers

Product management technical skills are essential for aspiring product managers. They are used to create strategies, design products, complicated analyses, and sell products. You can master these skills at universities, bootcamps, or various online resources such as tutorial videos and blogs.

  • Product Strategy. As a product manager, you’ll be in charge of setting the strategy for product development. This will outline your target market, buyer personas, and how you plan to launch and scale your product. This strategy will guide the entire product development process and give product team members an idea of what their role in the product development process will be. 

  • Product Design. You don’t need to have technical design skills to succeed as a product manager, but you should know the fundamentals of product design. You should be able to put together a rough plan for the design of a product, which can then be shared with the design and development teams.

  • Product Lifecycles. The product lifecycle is composed of four main stages: introduction, growth, maturity, and decline. You should know what these stages mean and how to allocate resources based on the stage a product is at.

  • Value Propositions. As a product manager, you will need to have an understanding of value propositions and customer pain points. You should know how to define a value proposition and explain to your team how the value proposition relates to the main development goals of a product. You should also be able to conduct basic market research.

  • Product Management Tools. Knowing how to navigate project management software is an essential skill. Some of the most popular programs in the industry are Jira, Wrike, APIFuse, and Becoming acquainted with these tools will greatly enhance your appeal to hiring managers.

  • Marketing and Advertising. Being able to reach customers is an essential part of the success of any product management effort. You can learn the principles of marketing and advertising as well as the most popular tools and techniques at a university or coding bootcamp. These skills will ensure you know how to reach customers and keep them interested.

  • Data Analysis. Product management is metric-driven. You must know how to use data analytics tools such as Mixpanel, Google Analytics, or Tableau to analyze a product’s performance data. You should also be able to use that information to make better decisions about product updates. While you may have a data analyst who performs this role, you’ll still be in charge of assessing KPIs.

Essential Soft Skills for Product Managers

To be a successful product manager, you’ll need to have good interpersonal (“soft”) skills, as well as technical skills. It is vital you know how to include these soft skills on your resume. Below are the most important product management soft skills you need.

  • Problem-Solving Skills. The main goal of a product manager is to ensure a product solves its target market’s specific problem. To do so, you must experiment with different solutions until they find one that works. You should also be able to solve any problems that arise during the implementation phase to ensure everyone remains on track.

  • Communication and Teamwork. As a product manager, you’ll communicate with other members of your organization daily to manage other employees and share information about deadlines and priorities. As such, you must work well with others in your team, delegate responsibilities correctly, and ensure everyone is on track to meet the team’s goals.

  • Creativity. Product managers often need to come up with creative solutions to difficult problems. Although you’ll have to follow certain processes during product management, you’ll need to think creatively when coming up with the design and feature set of a product.

  • Empathy. Product managers should use empathy to put themselves in other people’s shoes. This can help them better understand customers’ needs. Empathy is used to listen closely to customers and ask the right questions to find out their underlying needs. You can develop your empathy skills through real-world experience.

  • Leadership. Product managers will need to motivate and successfully work with a variety of tech employees. A good product manager should be able to influence and lead a team without authority. You don’t have to snap your fingers and tell the tech team what to do, instead, you use your influence to achieve the best results. 

  • Curiosity. Product managers have a lot of information and details to learn about their projects. Curiosity means that product managers want to know more, whether it's forming a deeper understanding of the product itself or finding out more information about the team they are working with. A lack of curiosity will limit a PM’s fulfillment, growth, and performance.

Types of Careers in Product Management

There are various types of product management careers. This is because product managers are present across industries. Furthermore, the product manager career path has roles that come in different shapes and sizes, so to speak. 

These roles range in seniority, from “junior-level” to “senior”, and represent a specific type of product management. The more experience you acquire, the more responsibilities you will be given over the product development process.

Technical Product Managers

Technical project managers have a background in computer science and are involved with the delivery of tech products, such as IT software and development tools, to the market. They analyze market trends, identify product requirements, and work closely with the engineering and other development teams to ensure such requirements are met.

Internal Product Managers

Internal product managers work on managing products for internal use, which are the products your co-workers will use. Internal product managers play a key role in maintaining core technologies that employees need in big companies. Internal product management careers are ideal for those who work at global firms or large tech companies.

Consumer Product Managers

Consumer product managers work on consumer-facing products. They evaluate customer pain points and determine how to reduce those pain points with a new product. This product manager career path requires you to work closely with product designers, market researchers, and sales representatives.

Project Manager

Project and product management are similar positions. As a project manager, your core competencies include overseeing projects and managing staff from different departments. You must understand the business objectives and the methods employed to ensure the project is a success. 

The key steps to becoming a project manager are getting the right education, choosing a specialization, and getting certified. Specialization is key as employers are more likely to hire people who have received training and education that applies to a specific industry or sector. If you are looking for a career in product management, you can also consider project manager roles.

IT Manager

An IT manager oversees the computer systems and all of their related components daily. This role involves meetings with superiors for IT analysis and strategizing different ways to make the technology more efficient at a company. Becoming an IT manager requires coding, networking, and database administration skills.

Database Administrator

A database administrator (DBA) protects and analyzes a company’s data. Most DBAs plan and develop data systems according to the objectives of a company or organization. To become a database administrator you must first be familiar with basic statistics, security protocols and tools, information recovery, and languages like Python, R, and SQL.

Product Manager Job Requirements

Requirements for employees may vary depending on the company. However, there are a few prerequisites that almost any product manager job description will include. We take a look at the most common requirements to hire a product manager below.

  • Formal education. Most product managers have a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. In addition, a Master of Business Administration, or MBA, increases your chances of getting hired.

  • Leadership skills. You need strong communication and organizational skills as well as a high degree of emotional intelligence to lead your team to the successful conclusion of the project.

  • Product management certification. Some companies may demand that candidates possess a specific professional certification. Even if it is not a requirement, being certified makes you a much stronger candidate.

  • Product management tools. Your technical skills and expertise with certain software and tools can determine whether or not you get the job. Product management tools are used for user tracking, analysis, road mapping, and customer service, among other things.

Required Education for Product Managers

A product manager required education is typically an undergraduate degree, professional certification, and skills training programs such as bootcamps. Investing in quality education is the best way to ensure you can find employment as a product manager. When you are applying for jobs, product manager education requirements will be specified in the job description.

Today, the bootcamp model is more popular than ever, and project management roles are no longer reserved for people who have earned degrees in business management or a related field. At a product management bootcamp, students spend several months learning in-demand and practical skills they need to pursue a career in product management.

Product Management Bootcamps

Bootcamps are tech training centers with courses that generally last between three and nine months. You can learn software engineering, data science, cyber security, and other topics at these schools.

Product management bootcamps are more common than ever. At Product School, General Assembly, and BrainStation, you can study product management and combine it with other courses to round out your education and make you more attractive to hiring managers.

Vocational School for Product Managers

Vocational schools are institutions that focus on practical training for trade occupations. If you are interested in a product manager career path, you might find it hard to find a suitable program at a vocational school. When it comes to the required education for product managers, we recommend looking into other types of institutions, such as coding bootcamps or universities.

Community College for Product Managers

Many students choose community colleges because they are cheaper than universities and can be a stepping stone to a bachelor’s degree program. A business administration program at a community college can prepare you for a product manager role. However, you might need to supplement your community college education for product management with an internship or professional certification.

College Education for Product Managers

Earning a college degree in product management or business administration will equip you with the skills required to become a product manager. Project manager majors will not only teach you the basics of business development but also the soft skills necessary to lead a team. 

Product Management Self-Directed Learning

Product management self-directed learning can help you learn valuable project management skills and gain experience. You can find educational YouTube videos and tutorials as well as TED Talks and podcasts. There are also plenty of project management books, articles, and blogs. 

However, employees tend to seek learners with at least a traditional four-year degree. So while self-directed learning like free product management courses is a great way to improve and advance your knowledge, it might not be enough to get you a project management job.

How to Become a Product Manager: A Step-by-Step Guide

If you want to become a product manager, some paths are more popular and well-traversed than others. Below, we take a look at one of the most common ways of landing your first job in the industry. This guide might not get you hired, but it will at least give you a good idea of how to become a product manager.

Step 1: Plan Your Career Path

As an aspiring product manager, it is important you plan your career path. You can get into product management from a software development background or a business background. Planning your career path will help you identify what skills training you need and what type of education you want to pursue and is the first step to becoming a product manager.

Step 2: Earn a Degree

Most product managers have at least a bachelor’s degree in a business-related field. Earning a bachelor’s degree will hone your fundamental business skills and give you a strong foundation for your career. College degrees also provide a well-rounded education and soft skills training, which makes them an excellent roadmap to becoming a product manager.

Step 3: Pursue an MBA

master’s degree in a related field such as business administration can work wonders for your resume and easily place you ahead of candidates who possess only a bachelor’s degree. As a product manager, a master’s degree is one of the most prestigious achievements you can list on your resume.

Step 4: Work on Your Resume

A strong resume is a must for potential product managers. If you want a successful career at a top company, you will need a professional product manager resume. You must tailor your resume to each job application to fulfill the necessary job requirements and keep the information you provide relevant.

Step 5: Gain Experience

Most product management positions will require applicants to have experience. You can enroll in a top product management bootcamp to quickly learn in-demand skills. You can also seek out PM opportunities in your current job to gain product manager experience. 

Furthermore, networking with professional project managers is a great way to expand your network and gain knowledge and insight into the world of project management. This is ideal for newcomers who want to learn how to get into product management. 

Step 6: Get a Certification

Earning a professional certification can also help you stand out in a crowded pool of applicants. Most certifications require paying a fee and passing an examination. As a certified product manager, you will earn more money and have the opportunity to apply for upper-level and senior product manager positions.

Step 7: Build Your Portfolio

One of the best ways to become a product manager is to have an impressive portfolio. You can easily build your project manager portfolio by putting together all of your previous project management work. You should include new projects you have worked on, business goals that you have achieved, and any product development you have done. 

Step 8: Apply for Jobs

If you want to know how to apply for product manager jobs, you can use job-search sites such as Indeed or LinkedIn. These sites have extensive product manager job listings. According to the BLS, product management jobs are set to grow by 9 percent over the coming years, so you should have no problem finding suitable job openings.

Step 9: Prepare for Your Job Interview

Preparing for the most common questions can tip the scale in your favor during a product manager job interview. To help you with your product manager interview prep, we have put together a list of the questions you are likely to encounter.

Product Manager Job Interview Practice Questions

  • Why do you want to work at our company?

  • How many products have you helped develop?

  • What tools do you use to plan a product’s lifecycle?

  • What resources do you use to manage sales teams?

Product Manager Job and Career Outlook

Product managers are qualified to work in a wide range of industries and careers. The BLS reports that the average salary for advertising, promotions, and marketing managers is $133,380. In addition, the BLS expects demand for these positions to grow 10 percent between 2020 and 2030, which is about the average rate across all occupations.

How Much do Product Managers Earn?

Project managers earn an average annual income of $89,281, according to PayScale. Entry-level product managers earn about $65,000 a year whereas experienced project managers can earn up to $111,000 per year. The level of pay will depend on location, years of experience, and job role.

Where Can I Work as a Product Manager?

Most product management roles are centered around the tech industry. However, product managers can work in any industry that makes or distributes a product. For example, consumer goods or pharmaceuticals. 

Product Management Internships

Product management internships are a great way to build experience. Some university programs or bootcamps will offer internships as part of their educational program. Other schools will have top career services that can help graduates find suitable product management internships.

During a product management internship, you will typically analyze data and help identify trends. You will work closely with the project management and tech team. Typically, a product management intern will be paired with a team member who will provide mentorship and guidance.

Product Manager Certifications

Product management certifications issued by independent organizations validate your knowledge and make you more attractive to employers. By earning the best product manager certifications, you can increase your reputation and worth and have access to more senior roles and a bigger salary.

Project Management Professional

The Project Management Professional (PMP) certification is a credential awarded by the Project Management Institution (PMI) to help professionals in the field develop their critical thinking and problem-solving skills. The exam fee is $405 for members. Non-members pay $555.

Pragmatic Certified Product Master

Earning this credential from Pragmatic Institute shows you know the fundamentals of product management. There is no minimum experience to enroll. According to PayScale, you can increase your salary by 5.6 percent with this certification.

Certified Product Manager

The Association of International Product Marketing and Management (AIPMM) offers a certification program focused on validating the skills of product managers. This credential confirms your talent as a leader and proves you’re proficient in creating market strategies and developing products.

Common Questions About Becoming a Product Manager

Can a Coding Bootcamp Help Me Become a Product Manager?

Yes, coding bootcamps can help you become a product manager. Many bootcamps have courses specifically on product management, including Product School, BrainStation, and General Assembly.

Coding bootcamps offer other programs that can also help prepare you for the role. At a coding bootcamp, you can learn cyber security, project management, software development, and, data science, all skills that can come in handy in a product management role.

Can I Become a Product Manager From Home?

Yes, you can learn product management from home by enrolling in an online course or program. Many colleges offer bachelor’s and master’s degrees through their online campuses which are accessible anywhere around the globe.

Many coding bootcamps also have online programs that focus on product management or other skills that are crucial for the role. There are also free coding bootcamps that will help you learn product management from home. Finally, you can also consider enrolling in a massive open online course (MOOC) such as the ones offered by Udemy, edX, Coursera, and other learning platforms.

Should You Become a Product Manager?

Yes, you should become a product manager. Product managers earn handsome salaries and, according to figures from the BLS, are facing a favorable job outlook in upcoming years. If you enjoy bringing a product from conception to completion and launch, then becoming a product manager is a wise career move.

Product managers have a wide range of skills and responsibilities. They work with development teams, marketing teams, sales teams, and management to deliver a product that meets the needs of consumers. This means that no two days are ever quite the same and there’s never a dull day at work.

If you want to know how to become a project manager, you have a variety of education options available. Online resources will help you learn the fundamental principles of this field, and learners can opt for traditional college or bootcamps if they want to become product managers.

Pros of Becoming a Product Manager

  • High wages. If you want to earn a decent salary, working as a product manager is a great choice. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), professionals in this field can earn around $133,000 per year. Glassdoor reports that product managers can earn as much as $114,145 per year.

  • Positive job outlook. If you’re a product manager, your job isn’t disappearing anytime soon. The BLS reports 10 percent expected job growth for the position from 2020 to 2030.

  • A stepping stone to higher positions. Product manager experience looks great on your resume and will open the door to new and exciting career opportunities, including upper management and executive roles.

  • Salary raises. If your projects are successful, your reputation and salary can increase. It is common for companies to offer bonuses to managers who achieve good results.

Cons of Becoming a Product Manager

  • Keeping up to date. Product managers use technology such as analysis tools to effectively do their job. These technologies are constantly being updated and it can be difficult to keep up with them. Project managers may be required to enroll in additional training courses to learn up-to-date and in-demand skills.

  • Reliance on soft skills. As important as technical skills are for project managers, strong soft skills are equally as important. Project managers are team leaders and are responsible for delivering products on strict deadlines. Therefore you must have strong communication skills. Some employers may struggle with the development of these soft skills.

  • Budget limitations. Project managers will often be hampered by strict budget and timeline limitations. This can make delivering the best product possible extremely challenging. Project managers will need to use creative ways to bypass these limitations and still deliver a high-quality product.


Is product management a good career?
Yes, project management is a good career. Entry-level jobs are well paid and project managers can make six-figure salaries as they progress to senior-level roles. Furthermore, there are plenty of educational paths for enthusiasts to learn product management skills.
How long does it take to become a product manager?
There is no specific timeframe for becoming a product manager. If you pursue a bachelor’s degree in a business-related field, you’ll be studying for at least four years before you can find work. There are also shorter routes to become a product manager such as bootcamps that can be completed in a few months or associate degree programs that last two years.
How do I become a product manager with no experience?
If you want to become a product manager with no experience, you can look for job promotions in your current role. Alternatively, you can use self-learning resources such as YouTube tutorials and product manager books. Without experience, you will need a very strong and impressive resume.
Is an MBA required for product management?
No, an MBA is not required for product management. You can get a product management job as a bootcamp graduate or with a four-year college degree. An MBA will help you earn top-tier product management jobs, but is not required for entry-level and mid-level jobs. You may also decide to get back to college at a later stage and earn an MBA to achieve promotions or a salary increase.
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