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Principal Product Manager vs. Director: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

A product manager is responsible for the planning, development and eventual success of a product. A director is responsible for the success of a department or company. Both positions are important and come with a lot of responsibility. In this article, we compare the job titles of principal product manager and director, and we discuss the similarities and differences between the two.

What is a Principal Product Manager?

A Principal Product Manager is responsible for the development and execution of the product management strategy for a specific product line. They work with cross-functional teams to ensure that products are designed, developed and delivered to meet market demands. They also work with sales and marketing teams to ensure that products are positioned and priced correctly. Principal Product Managers typically have a deep understanding of the product, the market and the competition. They use this knowledge to develop product roadmaps and plans that will meet the needs of the market and the company.

What is a Director?

A Director is a high-level executive who oversees the operations of a company or organization. They develop and implement strategies and policies to ensure that the company meets its goals. Directors typically report to the CEO or Board of Directors. They work with other executives to plan and coordinate the company’s activities. Directors often have a team of managers and staff who report to them. They are responsible for leading and motivating their team to achieve results. Directors typically have a deep understanding of the industry and the company’s competitive landscape.

Principal Product Manager vs. Director

Here are the main differences between a principal product manager and a director.

Job Duties

Directors often have more varied job duties than principals. Principals typically manage a product’s strategy and roadmap, but they may also oversee the business aspects of a product, like pricing and distribution. In comparison, directors usually focus more on the day-to-day operations of a product, including monitoring team performance, managing workflow and providing feedback to employees. This is because directors typically work at lower levels in an organization, where they closely monitor individual contributors’ performance.

Job Requirements

The job requirements for a principal product manager and director vary depending on the company they work for. However, most companies require their employees to have a bachelor’s degree in business administration, marketing or another related field. Additionally, many companies prefer candidates to have a master’s degree as well. Some employers also require candidates to have experience working in product management or a related field before they can be considered for a position as a principal product manager or director.

Work Environment

The work environment for a principal product manager and director can vary depending on the company. For example, if they work at a large corporation, they may spend most of their time in an office setting with other employees. If they work at a smaller business, they may travel to different locations to meet with clients or attend events.

A principal product manager typically works more independently than a director does. They often have fewer direct reports and are responsible for making decisions about products without input from others. A director usually has many direct reports and is part of a larger team that collaborates on projects.


Both principal product managers and directors use leadership skills to oversee teams of employees and ensure that projects are completed on time and within budget. They also need to be able to delegate tasks, provide feedback and resolve conflicts.

Principal product managers typically work with cross-functional teams to develop new products or features. In addition to leadership skills, they need to have strong project management skills to plan and execute projects. They also need to be able to understand customer needs and market trends to inform their product development decisions.

Directors often oversee multiple departments or initiatives in a company. In addition to leadership and project management skills, they need to have strong strategic planning skills to set goals and objectives for their team. They also need to be able to monitor progress and make adjustments as needed.


The average salary for a principal product manager is $158,917 per year, while the average salary for a director is $104,930 per year. Both of these salaries can vary depending on the industry, the size of the company and the location of the job.


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