Product Manager Salary and Career Overview
By The Fullstack Academy Team
Product Manager Salary and Career Overview
Effective product management is key to a company’s success. Experienced product managers combine technical skills (including data, marketing, customer analysis, and workflow management) with soft skills (such as leadership, team-building, and strategic thinking) to guide products or services to market.
Professionals with training in product management can apply this experience across nearly any industry, opening doors to advance within or outside of their current organization and increase their salary as a product manager.
What Does a Product Manager Do?
The role of the product manager is to guide the development of the products and services a company sells. A product manager acts at the forefront of a team that includes technology, design, user experience, marketing, and sales. They bring all of these departments together, ensuring everyone meets deadlines and the product is delivered on time.
Product management is often confused with project management. The product manager is responsible for the entire development of a product line, from concept to delivery to customer support. Project managers, on the other hand, carry out the directives of the product manager and are often responsible for only one portion of the product plan.
Different Types of Product Managers
Product managers come from a variety of backgrounds. They may have a business or marketing degree, or if they are in a technical field, they may be trained as a software developer. Depending on varying organizational needs, their skills may be stronger in some areas than in others. Some of the different types of product managers include:
Analytical/data science product manager. These product managers understand how the product functions and how to read data yielded at different stages of the development process. They analyze product, marketing, customer, and sales statistics to support decision-making.
Marketing product manager. The marketing product manager understands the end user. They know customer motivations and they use marketing strategies to meet customers’ needs.
Technical product manager. As with the analytical product manager, technical product managers have a development background and they understand all of the technical details of the product.
Visionary product manager. These professionals take a strategic approach to overall product development rather than focusing on a specific product or product line.
Entry-level Product Manager Salary
After completing the education and training to break into the product management field, product managers usually secure an entry-level position. The title may be junior product manager, associate product manager, or something similar.
The salary for an entry-level product manager will vary by industry, product, and skills. Skills such as Python programming, financial modeling, design, and people management can boost salaries between 24% and 37% over the median, according to compensation research site Payscale.
An entry-level product manager with 0-2 years of experience could expect a salary of around $81,900, according to Lightcast™.
Product Manager Salary and Job Outlook
The job outlook for product managers has been quite strong. Research from product manager and technology thought leader Neal Iyer showed that product management roles grew more than 30% between 2017-2019. The demand for product managers is expected to grow nearly 12% a year between 2022 and 2032, according to Lightcast™. While information technology is a big employer of product managers, growth is also coming from e-commerce and the financial sector.
The median product manager salary range was $102,470 as of September 2022, according to Lightcast™. The mid-level salary for product managers with 3-5 years of experience was around $100,500, while those with 9 or more years of experience earned around $114,500.
Competencies in cloud computing, big data analytics, and IT security could boost salaries between 26% and 33%, according to Payscale. In addition, cities such as San Francisco, Seattle, and New York offer the highest salaries for this profession, but compensation tends to vary due to differences in the cost of living. For example, while the average salary is lower for product managers living in Salt Lake City, the cost of living is only 2% higher than the national average. This is significantly less than the cost of living in San Francisco, which is 29% above the national average, according to Payscale data.
How to Develop Product Manager Skills
The path to a career as a product manager starts with understanding the skills the role requires. Fortunately, there are a number of resources for developing these competencies.
Product Manager Skills
What does it take to be a highly effective product manager?
Business acumen. Product managers must be proficient in budgeting, cash flow, and making a business case for each product under their purview.
Communication. They must communicate clearly across all departments and be able to report results to senior leadership.
Technical expertise. Not all product managers need to be product developers, but they must be able to use management software and have knowledge of the underlying technology of their products.
Research and analysis. Data analysis and research are essential to the job. Product managers must be able to use analytical tools to understand customer and marketing activity.
Marketing knowledge. Product managers must work closely with the marketing team to develop the best marketing strategies.
Delegation. Product managers must create buy-in from colleagues across all relevant departments, assign various projects, and provide oversight.
Prioritization. The best-laid plans are often overturned by events. Project managers must understand priorities and how to make sure everyone is focusing on the right elements to meet deadlines.
In addition to these job and management skills, product managers typically have the following traits in common.
Get-it-done attitude. Product managers are driven to achieve an end goal and deliver results for their organization.
Passion. Product managers are passionate about their work and are often evangelists about the products they develop and bring to market.
Adaptability. Product managers need to be flexible. They have to be able to move between tasks and people, adapting to different timeframes as necessary.
Constant learning. Product managers are always curious and always learning.
Thinking like a generalist. Effective product managers may have a background in technology or marketing or data analysis, but they understand how all of the pieces work together.
Enroll in a Bootcamp
Professionals who want to supercharge their skills as quickly and efficiently as possible can enroll in a bootcamp. A bootcamp is an intensive course of varying duration in a specific topic. Product management bootcamps prepare students for a career through coursework in product development and planning, building business models, team development, product management software, and more.
Build on Existing Skills
Professionals usually come to product management with existing skills, such as those developed by working in user experience, coding, marketing, sales, or related roles. These skills will provide a base level of competency, and you will be able to apply them to a product management role.
Your current company is a great place to start. Talk to your manager about your ambitions. If available, take on small projects to start. You can also enroll in an intro course to learn product management fundamentals. This will help you develop a feel for what it takes to be part of product development.
Talk with the product managers at your company. Attend conferences or join online groups to meet with product managers and peers who have the same goals and interests. Read the many resources out there on product management best practices and become familiar with the profession.
Develop Soft Skills
Technical skills are important, but leadership, creativity, critical thinking, and strategic awareness are all essential to product management. Communication, interpersonal, and organizational competencies can make or break a product manager.
Begin Your Career in Product Management
Thanks in part to the growth of software and other digital products, as well as e-commerce and business globalization, companies need product managers now more than ever. These professionals not only shepherd products to market, but they also help develop a company’s product and marketing strategy and analyze the outcomes. A product management bootcamp can help you develop the foundational skills to get started on a rewarding career.
Learn more about the Fullstack Academy online Product Manager Bootcamp and find out how this program can help you pursue your professional goals.