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Product Specialist vs. product owner: What Are the Differences?

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

A product specialist and product owner are both important roles in product development. A product specialist is responsible for the technical aspects of a product, while a product owner is responsible for the business strategy and roadmap. In this article, we compare and contrast these two positions, and provide tips for those interested in pursuing a career in product development.

What is a Product Specialist?

A product specialist is a professional who is responsible for the promotion and sale of a particular product or line of products. They work with customers to identify their needs and then recommend the best product to meet those needs. Product specialists typically work in retail settings, but they may also work in other customer-facing environments such as call centers or trade shows. In some cases, product specialists may be responsible for providing training to other employees on the features and benefits of the products they represent.

What is a Product Owner?

A product owner is a key role in product development, responsible for representing the interests of the stakeholders and end users of a product or service. They work with the development team to ensure that the product meets the needs of the stakeholders and end users, and that it is delivered in a timely and effective manner. The product owner is responsible for the product roadmap and for ensuring that the product backlog is prioritized and up to date. They also work with the development team to ensure that product development is aligned with the company’s overall strategy.

Product Specialist vs. Product Owner

Here are the main differences between a product specialist and a product owner.

Job Duties

Product specialists carry out a variety of tasks to ensure the success of their products. They may research consumer needs and conduct market research to determine what features consumers want in a product. They also develop marketing strategies for their products, including creating advertisements and writing copy for product listings.

Product owners also perform important duties that affect the success of their products, but they typically focus more on strategic tasks rather than tactical ones. For example, a product owner might decide which software development team to assign to a project and monitor the progress of that team while providing direction when necessary.

Job Requirements

Product specialists and product owners typically need a bachelor’s degree in business administration, marketing or another related field. Some employers prefer candidates to have a master’s degree as well, but it is not required for entry-level positions. Additionally, many product specialists and product owners pursue certifications through the Project Management Institute (PMI) or the International Association of Productivity Specialists (IAPS). These organizations offer training programs that teach professionals how to use project management software and other tools they might need on the job.

Work Environment

Product specialists and product owners typically work in different environments. Product specialists usually work in a retail environment, such as a department store or clothing boutique. They may also work for manufacturers that sell their products directly to consumers.

Product owners often work in an office setting with other members of the development team. They may travel to visit customers and observe how they use the product.


Both product specialists and product owners need to have excellent communication skills. They use these skills to interact with customers, understand their needs and explain the features and benefits of a product.

Product specialists also need to be able to think on their feet and come up with solutions to problems that may arise during a sale or when providing customer service. Product owners need to be able to think strategically about how a product can be improved and what new features should be added. They also need to be able to work with developers to ensure that a product meets the specifications that they have laid out.

Both of these roles require an understanding of the product that they are selling or overseeing. However, product specialists typically have a more in-depth knowledge of the product and how it works. They are able to provide detailed information about the product to customers and answer any questions that they may have. Product owners typically have a high-level understanding of the product and its features.


Product specialists earn an average salary of $63,270 per year, while product owners earn an average salary of $108,042 per year. The average salary for both positions may vary depending on the size of the company, the industry in which you work and your level of experience.


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