Product managers act as the chief executive officer for a product. They design and innovate, identify the ideal market, work with multiple teams, and are responsible for its success or failure. Being quick on your feet and responsive to change are just a few of the requirements in the product manager job description.
This article will review what product managers typically do, what responsibilities they have, the skills, education, and experience needed, average work schedules, and the job outlook.
What Does a Product Manager Do?
These professionals wear many hats, and their responsibilities are as much different as they are similar. They work at the intersection of many fields such as business, technology, and user-design. Their sole responsibility is to design and develop a product that is usable and valued by the intended community.
The job is fast-paced and exciting. Part of the product manager job description is that you need to take decisions along the way and be someone who likes seeing how the details fit into the overall picture. Their work schedule revolves around the product. It is important to have a work/life balance while accomplishing the required tasks. It’s expected for a product manager to have a bachelor’s degree. The median salary is $108,659.
Product Manager Job Description for Resume – Responsibilities
Product managers are akin to the parent of the product. They nurture it from infancy to maturity and have to correct various problems along the way. The following tasks are all completed at some point in their career. Make sure to personalize these to strengthen your resume.
- Come up with an idea for a new product or take ideas suggested and make a work plan for how this could become reality
- Conduct user testing multiple times over the development period.
- Develop pricing models in accordance with the different features of the product offered at each level.
- Work as part of a team to lead the development of the product, while delegating actions that are not your best assets.
- Promote brand awareness around your product and make convincing arguments its appeal.
- Develop timelines that target certain milestones in the process of the product lifecycle.
- Communicate with the business executives on the progress of the product, roadblocks encountered, and support needed to place the product on the market.
Product Manager Required Skills
- Coding and developer skills. While product managers will not be doing the brunt of the development for a product, they must be conversant and knowledgeable about what the technical team is capable of doing.
- Business savvy skills. Ultimately, managing a product is tied closely to the overall business strategy. This professional must meet with business executives and come with a solid plan for the lifecycle of the product.
- Negotiating skills. If they worked by themselves, they could make most of what they wanted happen. However, working on a team and in the context of an organization dictates that certain parts of the product development will require negotiation. Knowing what is essential to the product and what they can compromise is part of the product manager job description.
- Sales skills. The sales team will handle client relationships and marketing of the product. However, they need to be able to walk into a room and convince people of the product’s quality, usefulness, and pricing model.
Sara Aboulafia of UserVoice Blog provided the inspiration for this list.
How to Become a Product Manager
Product managers need a bachelor’s degree. The actual field is not specific, but it should be related to business or technology. There are no required licenses or certificates, and most job openings do not need any additional certifications. Licenses are not an absolute must in the product manager job description.
Education & Training Requirements
Most job openings will require a bachelor’s degree in business, information science, and technology, user-design or a related field. So, there is no specific product manager degree needed. To advance to higher positions, however, a master’s degree may be required.
While there are no required certificates or licenses to become a professional in this field, there are optional education opportunities that can give you a competitive advantage. Education and training are less important in the product manager job description than being talented at the job. It won’t hurt to get additional certification, but the field is so diverse that no one program can prepare you for everything you need. It’s important that they pick a product manager course that fits their needs.
These professionals prefer someone who has experience with various technologies. While completing your education, it is worthwhile to learn some systems or tools such as Agile. If you do not have a development background, additional coursework in computer science could help.
An interesting study was done that analyzed the requirements listed in job openings. The most common among 41 companies was previous product management experience. There are positions that are more entry-level such as a product assistant or a production specialist. Over 75% of those companies wanted 3.3 years of prior experience.
In addition to product management experience, they preferred someone who had experience with their particular market. For example, if it was an agriculture business, they wanted someone who was knowledgeable in this domain. This requires less of a learning curve for new hires than hiring someone with no directly relevant experience.
Product managers may have to work long or extra hours on a fairly regular basis. This is because they have ownership of the product and need to work as long as needed for it to be successful. Most product managers work full-time for a single company. A typical day is spent reading and responding to emails, keeping current with latest developments in the field, attending daily meetings, and working on product development when possible.
It is vital to block off some days to not look at emails or have meetings. This allows for more intensive work where they could create workflows, strategize, or think broadly about how the product fits within the company.
The median product manager salary is $108,659. While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not specify a job outlook for them, they do for promotions and marketing managers. This career originated from brand managers. The job growth will primarily happen for technology or digital products.
However, there is a good opportunity for advancement. A typical career path for product managers is to work as an account manager, engineer, or web development and transition to being a product manager. Only five percent of companies in the study described above had product management positions for entry-level workers.
Continuing to learn and diversify your skill set is the most important attribute for a product manager.
These professionals do not have one consistent job. It will look different for every company and every job, so the product manager job description may vary. There is a hierarchy of positions. You can progress from an assistant product manager to the director of product management. Gain a variety of experiences and become versed in business and technology and you will be on your way to a career in product management. In addition, this could be an excellent stepping stone. Make sure you read the general manager job description to see if it would be better suited for your skills.