Product managers oversee the development of a company’s products. In other words, they are responsible for creating and executing a strategy that ensures a product is created, designed, produced, marketed, and sold successfully. They focus on making sure that a product’s development meets the goals that have been set out by the company’s leadership team.
Product managers may serve as a point of contact between customers, employees, and executives. They work closely with both internal and external stakeholders to determine what features should be added or removed from a product. They also help to determine how to price a product and how to position it in response to market conditions.
Read on to learn more about what it’s like to be a product manager and what it takes to become one yourself.
Product Manager Job Duties
Product managers typically handle a broad range of duties, including the following:
- Communicating with team members and stakeholders to gather information related to product development and sales forecasts
- Analyzing data and researching market trends in order to understand customer needs and behavior
- Establishing processes for gathering feedback from customers and internal teams, such as design, development, marketing, human resources, or operations
- Making strategic decisions regarding features of the product that will support growth in new markets or appeal to existing customers
- Planning and allocating resources to product development projects
- Managing the design process from planning to finalization
- Analyzing customer feedback and information to make decisions about new products or product enhancements—if one has experience in project management
- Researching the needs of target customers to determine potential improvements or changes in current products based on research findings—if one has experience in market research
- Communicating with vendors and suppliers regarding product specifications, pricing, and delivery dates
Product Manager Salary & Outlook
The median annual wage for product managers is $105,344. The highest earners make over $185,000 per year. Those earning higher wages tend to work in engineering and management consulting firms.
The number of product managers is expected to grow faster than average over the next decade. This growth is due to the increasing complexity of products made by companies and the need for greater collaboration across teams both within an organization and with outside vendors. Product managers will be needed to coordinate these efforts and oversee the process from start to finish.
Product Manager Job Requirements
The requirements for product managers are as follows:
Education: A bachelor’s degree in any area is sufficient to get a job in product management, although many employers prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree in business, marketing, or a related field. Some companies will hire candidates with MBAs or a graduate level computer science degree.
Training: Product managers receive training in areas such as product management methodology, forecasting, and product positioning.
Certification: The Product Management Association offers the Certified Product Manager (CPM) certification for product managers. The CPM certification exam covers areas such as consumer and business marketing, finance, project management, and technology.
Product Manager Skills
A product manager must have the following skills:
Decision-making skills: Product managers must be able to make sound decisions based on market research, customer feedback, and sales reports.
Time management skills: Product managers must be able to manage their time well in order to meet deadlines and stay on top of their workload.
Management skills: A product manager is a manager as well as a decision maker. He or she will need strong leadership and management skills to motivate team members and make sure that projects are completed on time.
Excellent communication skills: This job requires excellent verbal and written communication skills.
Analytical skills: Product managers must have strong analytical, numerical, and spreadsheet skills.
Interpersonal skills: Candidates must have excellent communication and interpersonal skills.
Product Manager Work Environment
Product managers typically work in offices. They may be responsible for managing a group of products, or they may be responsible for a single product. Their jobs are varied and fast-paced, as they must deal with employees, vendors, suppliers, and consumers.
The majority of product managers have long days that can run into the evening. They are responsible for overseeing the entire process of bringing a new product to market, which can take months or even years. This includes managing teams of workers and overseeing their progress as they create the product. Product managers must be able to handle stress well and meet deadlines.
Product Manager Career Path
Even new product managers are expected to have at least a basic knowledge of the products they are assigned. They meet with key members of the team, assess their needs, and become familiar with the competition. Their priorities are usually set by their superiors. Their jobs can be very demanding and stressful, requiring extensive travel, long hours, and difficult conditions. Although they have significant input into company policy, they have little control over their own time or jobs. But if they do well, a promotion could be in the offing.
Five Years On The Job
After five years, product managers have developed a good sense of what works and what doesn’t. They tend to specialize in a particular type of product or group of products. The best tend to rise quickly through the ranks as they demonstrate their ability to create successful products. They have long-term job security, as well as influence over their company’s direction. Job satisfaction remains high for those who have a sense of achievement and a feeling that they are making a difference at work. Product managers who have been promoted into other departments report that they miss being directly involved in launching new products.
Ten Years On The Job
Ten-year veterans are likely to be department heads or executive directors of product development for their companies. Depending on the size of the company, they may be supervising other product managers or developing products from concept to market launch without having direct contact with customers or factory workers. Ten-year veterans also find that they spend more time working on financial issues, such as profit margins and advertising costs, rather than developing new products themselves.
Product Manager Trends
Here are three trends influencing how product managers work. Product Managers will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.
Increased Focus on Data Analytics
The world of data analytics is becoming increasingly important for product managers, who are responsible for the marketing and distribution of a company’s products.
For example, technology companies are using data to make more informed decisions about which areas to develop their business in, while social media sites are using analytics to optimize the design of their products.
Rising Demand for Ethical Product Managers
A major trend that will shape the future of product management is the increasing need for ethical, or socially responsible, product managers.
This type of product manager must be able to identify and address potential issues related to their products while still meeting deadlines and maintaining profitability. Because these issues can become controversial quickly, it is essential that they possess strong communication skills and an ability to work well with others in order to find compromise.
Cross-Platform User Experience
In today’s tech world, companies are constantly seeking new ways to stay relevant and keep customers engaged. In this context, product managers need to be able to think outside the box and use a cross-platform approach in order to build products that appeal to a wide range of users.
For example, a large tech company recently released a universal wallet app that is compatible with all major operating systems. This is an attempt at keeping customers engaged across multiple platforms while building brand loyalty through their technology.
How to Become a Product Manager
1. Planning Your Career
If you’re thinking about a career as a product manager, you need to consider whether you want to work in a business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C) setting. Both of these roles are common within the field, but they require different skill sets and may even have separate educational requirements.
If you’re not sure where your interests lie just yet, don’t worry – this is a common dilemma among students who are just starting out on their career path. To gain some experience before making a final decision about what type of product management you want to do long-term, consider taking an internship or entry-level position that will allow you to explore several fields within the profession. Once you have decided on your desired specialty (and received proper training), it will be much easier to find jobs that match your skillset and career goals.
2. Writing a Resume
The best resumes for product managers focus more on their experience coordinating projects than their education. While it is important to highlight your relevant education, employers are more interested in how you can contribute to the company by completing successful projects. The most important factor in choosing the best resume for this role is your success with previous projects, so be sure to provide details of notable successes and results.
Highlight your skills with project management software, such as JIRA or Trello, if applicable. If you’ve had some training or experience with specific technologies that could be useful for the job, include that as well. For example, if you have expertise with a certain programming language or development process that is relevant to the job description then detail that in your resume.
3. Applying for Jobs
To find the right job as a Product Manager, start by looking at job postings on sites like LinkedIn, Indeed, and Monster. As you search, note which job listings seem most interesting to you and why. This will help you figure out where your interests lie within the field and will help you craft your cover letter accordingly. If you’re serious about getting into product management, we recommend finding a mentor who can give you advice and tips on the best way to advance your career.
4. Ace the Interview
While interviewing for a product manager position, you’ll need to be ready to talk about a wide range of skills. The interviewer will want to get a sense of your product management experience and expertise, whether you have your PMP certification, and if you have enough industry-specific knowledge of the company’s products.
Make sure the interviewer knows that you know how important it is to communicate with customers on a regular basis. Discuss how you would prioritize the development of new products and what you would do to improve existing products.
Don’t forget that along with the standard questions about your background, education, and professional or volunteer experience, there will probably be some specific questions about the company’s products and services. Be sure to do plenty of research before going into the interview so you can answer these questions in more detail than they were probably expecting.