Product Manager

Product management career track

What Is a Product Manager?

Product management combines marketing, development, and analysis to maximize the effectiveness of a product and, in turn, its profit. Product Managers develop the business strategies behind the products, choose its functional requirements, and manage the launch of features. Some Product Managers oversee the team that creates the product and gather feedback from users to launch improvements as well. 

Product Management is a great way to get into the tech industry if you know more about business and marketing but less about coding. You’ll only need to understand the underlying principles of what makes a product work and sell well to get started as a Product Manager. 

Product Manager Jobs

Product Managers are in high demand and are an integral part of a company’s technical team. Large companies are always seeking quality Product Managers and people who have a good understanding of product development principles. 

Product Management job titles include: 

  • Product Management Internship
  • Junior Product Manager
  • Project Lead
  • Solutions Architect
  • Associate Product Manager
  • Product Owner
  • Product Director
  • Chief Product Officer (CPO)
  • Vice President of Product Management
  • Senior Vice President of Product Management
  • Director of Product Management
  • President of Product Management

A good Product Manager can rise in the ranks from intern to VP of Product in 10 years or less. Product management bootcamp graduates can expect to secure Associate Product Manager roles for their first job. 

The Product Manager Job Description

There are different types of Product Managers. The specificity of the role depends on how large the company is. At larger companies, the Product Manager will focus on a specific part of product management, like strategy, function design, features launching, or feedback implementation.

A good product manager will have strong leadership skills and work well on a team. They will have knowledge of production standards, they might oversee a budget, develop sales strategies, create training materials, and develop product plans to increase sales. They’ll need to know how to use general office programs and have a basic knowledge of the main tools used by designers and developers for developing a product. 

What Does a Product Manager Do?

The product manager will be the liaison between the client, stakeholders, and the team who develops the app, including Designers and Developers. They’ll guide the project, make decisions, manage a timeline, and analyze every step along the way. 

Here’s what Product Managers do in their own words: 

Khaled is the Director of Product Management at the Royal Bank of Canada and teaches Product Management at BrainStation. He says, “My job is to understand problems and pitch solutions based on our product portfolio.”

 

Nataly graduated from General Assembly and now works as a Technology Product Manager at LPL Financial. According to Nataly, product managers are “responsible for understanding the problem that customers are facing and the opportunities to address those problems. I facilitate customers, stakeholders, and teams who are designing and building the product. This role involves understanding how technology teams work and leading those teams. Ultimately it’s actually about empathizing with the customer, advocating for them, prioritizing, decision making, and sticking to a timeline. Product management isn’t about knowing what to build, it’s about knowing the process of how to figure out what that is.”

 

Product Manager Salaries

Product Manager Job Average Salary
Entry-level Product Manager  $65,000
Product Manager (tech industry) $95,426
Chief Product Officer (CPO) $183,000

 

Tech Sales Skills

Project Manager vs Product Manager

While the Project Manager and Product Manager roles overlap occasionally in skills like time management and leadership (and having the word manager in their title), the two roles are different. The Project Manager role compliments the Product Manager’s role by executing the plans made by the Product Manager.

The Product Manager is like the CEO of a product. They set the vision for a product that needs to be built – from a physical product to software to services. The product lifecycle starts in development and ends with launching.

The Product Manager gathers every necessary requirement and prioritizes them. They analyze and market test the product for viability. They have knowledge of everything from business and marketing to basic technology used to build the product. They keep the project organized and on track from start to finish. They update the product over time and continue to keep it marketable and useful. 

A Project Manager is someone who acts on the Product Manager’s vision. Projects are on time endeavors that are usually a part of creating the product or service. It has a definitive start and end date and defined outcomes. They make sure it is executed based on the Product Manager’s prescribed timeline and adheres to the budget. Project managers tackle functional issues while the Product Manager tackles the big, technical issues. 

Product Manager Resume

A solid Product Manager will need to know how to use product management tools in order to stay organized and build prototypes. They’ll also need to be a strong leader who is ready to say “no” when necessary. Your product manager resume should show any applicable previous experience as well as industry tools. 

Here are some product management skills and tools you’ll learn at product management bootcamp

  • Minimum Viable Product (MVP) - Defining the MVP requires framing a problem based on information gathered through customer research, finding a market fit, and performing competitive analysis. 
  • Prototyping - A prototype is a simple experimental model of a proposed solution used to validate the idea, design, or functionality of a product. As a product designer, you’ll use both software and analog tools to create prototypes. 
  • Product Testing - Product testing is also referred to as consumer or comparative testing. This process measures the properties and performance of a product to analyze whether it is ready for release and meets requirements or needs to be fixed. 
  • Product Launching - A product launch can be an existing product with an upgrade, patch, or new feature or a new product. You’ll learn successful product launching techniques at bootcamp and the tools you’ll need to do it. 
  • Product Marketing - In order to be successful financially, a product will need to be marketed. Most Product Managers will be focusing on digital marketing. Some Product Manager roles won’t deal with marketing if the company has its own marketing team. 
  • Market Analysis - Product Managers need to know how to analyze the market to decide whether a project is viable. 
  • Financial Analysis and Risk Management - How to price a product, how to fund it, and whether the product is worth the risk. 
  • Roadmapping - Roadmapping is a strategic process used to determine the next steps, resources, and a timeline to take products from ideas to reality. 
  • Design - As a Product Manager, you’ll likely be working with Designers but you may also be doing some design yourself during prototyping, marketing, and mapping. 
  • Leadership Skills - You’ll need leadership skills and all of the soft skills that leadership requires in order to be successful in this highly managerial role. Recruiters will look for team players, strong leaders, good communicators, and level headed creative thinkers for the Product Manager position. 
  • Time Management and Organization
  • Defining Customer Profiles - You’ll define target customers so that you can design a product specifically with them in mind. 
  • Story Mapping and Customer Experience - Product Managers need to know how to map out the journey the user will go through when moving through your product experience. You’ll need to keep in mind the user’s experience. 
  • Agile and Scrum Principles - These best practices include collaboration, self-organization, and cross-functionality of teams. Scrum is a framework used to implement agile development. 
  • SWOT - SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. It’s an analysis process that helps vet your product’s viability. 
  • Jira - Jira is a platform used to track analytics.

Product Manager Interview Questions

Be prepared to talk about your background, your management skills, your goals for the future, and how you work on a team. Recruiters will want to know how you work on a team. One question you’re most likely to be asked is, “How do you say no to people?” As a manager, it’s your responsibility to be able to steer the team. Sometimes this means saying no to your teammates or to stakeholders. You might have to make decisions about the product’s timeline, financial implications, or even the choice to launch a product or not. 

You’ll also likely get questions about your background which you can spin to demonstrate transferable skills from your previous experiences. Being able to spin your background in a useful way is especially important for those changing careers from fields that do not involve business, marketing, design, or tech. Product development takes time. Your commitment to the industry and to the company you’re interviewing is important. Be ready to talk about your goals for the future, what you’re looking forward to, and maybe even how your background proves you are loyal to your previous jobs. 

How to Become a Product Manager

There are several possible paths to becoming a Product Manager. Some Product Managers get their start with an MBA, others begin with a product management bootcamp, and some even learn how to launch a product through coding bootcamp. You could go the self-taught startup route and take your idea through an entire product development if you know how to manage, design, code, and market. 

You might even find a project you can own end-to-end at your current job to dip your toes into the position. Some product managers recommend keeping a journal starting with your decision to become a Product Manager. Having a record of the various projects you’ve done, tough problems you’ve solved and how you solved them, the research you’ve conducted, and cross-functional collaboration you’ve facilitated could be the ticket to a job one day. You can keep it on paper, on a blog, or as a part of your portfolio. 

Product Management Bootcamp

Product management bootcamps teach you the technical skills you need to start your career as a Product Manager as well as the leadership skills you’ll need to succeed. 

Some product management bootcamps go so far as to teach UX Design and online marketing, too. Others focus on helping you use your ideas to create a real product during bootcamp. A few of them offer certificates, too. Product management bootcamps range in length from 5-12 weeks and cost anywhere from $2,000-$14,000. 

Becoming a Product Manager after Coding Bootcamp

Some coding bootcamp graduates have also found success as Product Managers. Technically, you don’t need to know how to code from scratch to be a Product Manager. But the ability to get into the nitty-gritty coding is a powerful skill. At tech companies, Product Managers work closely with software engineers. Understanding the fundamentals of software development makes it easier to understand Developers, Engineers, Designers, which makes you much easier and more desirable to work with. 

“As a Software Developer myself, I’m able to step into my customers’ shoes and look at how they’re experiencing problems and inefficiencies. I’m able to see what customers are asking for or complaining about,” Khaled Zaky, Product Manager and Product Management Instructor, points out that not only will your teammates benefit from your coding knowledge, your customers will, too. 

As a Software Developer, you will have the technical skills you need to build a product. You’ll need to pick up the business, analytics, and marketing skills of a Product Manager to make your product successful through sales. Some people choose to attend both coding bootcamp or UX design bootcamp and product management bootcamp to build their own product and found their own startup. 

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