Career Pathway: Product Management

Pathway Overview

Why Product Management?

  • Global presence
  • Opportunity and growth
  • Variety of job duties
  • Stepping stone into management and executive roles

Product management (sometimes abbreviated as PM or PDM) is a fast-growing and prestigious career path at many emerging and established companies. Organizations across industries rely on product managers to fuel growth and digital transformation. At their core, product managers are responsible for building and improving products; their job is to decide what goes into a product, what doesn’t, and who the product is for. In order to do this effectively, product managers have to be goal-oriented, passionate, strong communicators, and customer-centric. They are fluent in cross-functional collaboration and leadership and have the ability to relate to many personality types and stakeholders across a company; their primary goal is product success. 

Product managers wear many hats and work closely with marketing, sales, customer support, design, and engineering teams. Overall, product managers play a vital role in incorporating business, design, and technology expertise into a business’ overarching strategy, as well as ensuring customer satisfaction and product integrity. They’re always looking for innovative ways to enhance products and grow with stakeholders.

Note: Product management job titles are generally straightforward; though, some may have system- or industry-specific titles. In addition, you may find the titles “product manager” and “product owner” used in similar fashion. Some mid-level job titles may focus on a subcategory such as product growth, development, or marketing.

Pathway Certifications

*Note: Certifications are an added bonus, but not a necessity, in this landscape and they may differ based on specializations and role descriptions. In some cases, certifications can help candidates gain a competitive edge. Some employers are willing to help candidates with strong skills attain certifications after being hired. Keep in mind that some certifications are costly and time intensive.

CertificationDefinition/PurposeAssociated Roles
AIPMM-CPMCertified Project ManagerCertificate for product management tasks/roles.
AIPMM-ACPMPOAgile Certified Project ManagerCertificate for product management and product owner tasks/roles.
CSPOCertified Scrum Product OwnerCertificate for product management and product owner tasks/roles.
PDMA-NPDNew Product Development Professional Certificate via Product Development and Management AssociationCertificate for experienced product developers.
Product OwnerProduct Owner Certificate via Scrum Inc.Certificate for experienced product owner roles.

In-Demand Skills

*Ultimately, your ability to land a specific role will come down to your proficiency in these in-demand skills and your willingness to learn new ones. Specializations will depend on specific job tasks; refer to job descriptions to understand what each role entails.

Note: In product management, you might work on a product that’s digital, or physical, or even a service. The world of product management is broad. Boot camp activities focus on digital product management because it is so widespread in our tech-centered world. However, the tools, tenets, and resources that you learn can apply to any career or with any product in the product management realm.

Field-Specific Skills

  • Product Principles and Mindset
    • Whole product concept 
    • Business Model Canvas 
    • Value Proposition Canvas 
    • Persona development 
    • Agile project management  
    • Customer Segmentation
  • Communication Management
    • Cross-Functional Facilitation
    • Communication Strategy
    • Presentation skills
  • Product Execution
    • Roadmap development 
    • Backlog management 
    • Epic and user story creation 
    • Feature prioritization
    • Wireframes and Prototyping
    • Sprint planning and execution  
    • Objectives and Key Results (OKRs)
    • Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) 
    • Optimization strategies  
  • Data Analysis and Visualization
    • Insight mining 
    • Data Structures
    • Funnel and cohort analysis
    • Product Analytics Tools
    • Qualitative vs. Quantitative Data
    • SQL 
    • A-B Testing

Transferable Skills

  • Team leader 
  • Active listener
  • Adaptable
  • Detail-oriented
  • Business-oriented
  • Collaborative
  • Customer-centric
  • Data-driven 
  • Goal-oriented
  • Life-long learner
  • Problem solver
  • Relationship builder
  • Self-motivator
  • Strategic thinker
  • Storyteller
  • Strong verbal and written communicator 
  • Manager (particularly of stakeholders)
  • Strong time manager
  • Technically literate 
  • Visionary

Job Descriptions

*Note: Below is a basic guide to kick-start your exploration of product management roles; not a complete list of all options and paths within each level. Product management candidates come from an array of disciplines.

Entry-Level:

Associate Product Manager

Similar job responsibilities to a product manager but on a smaller scale. Ownership of assignments from the product manager. May incorporate analysis, problem solving, defining features, bug fixes, UI design, and making recommendations for product changes or iteration. This role serves as a solid learning experience in the product management landscape to better understand customers and markets. Tags: Junior Product Manager.

Relevant Certifications: AIPMM-CPM, CSPO, Product Owner by Scrum Inc.

Product Analyst

Works to create essential business solutions via data-driven decisions. Supports external client needs and moderates a system of improvements and implementation. Strong communication needed to deliver impact metrics and effectively communicate them to all stakeholders. Overall, product analysts  focus on impact to identify and lead the support of products and features. Tags: Product Development Analyst, Product Support Analyst, Web Product Analyst, etc.

Relevant Certifications: AIPMM-CPM, CSPO, Product Owner by Scrum Inc.

Product Coordinator/Specialist

Supports the development of acquisitions and strategies for planning and task coordination. Monitors, synthesizes, and analyzes data for testing and evaluation. May act as a liaison among internal product management contacts or teams and external stakeholders. Tags: Special Project Manager, Technical Lead, Project Coordinator, Product Support Specialist.

Relevant Certifications: Agile or scrum certifications.

Mid-Level:

Growth Product Manager

Launches new membership features/products/programs; defines and executes product roadmap based on the business vision, market trends, customer feedback, and analytics. Leverages strong relationship building and project management skills. Identifies engagement growth opportunities and leads a cross-functional team in the testing, implementation, and monitoring of those improvements and backlog. Creates user stories with mockups, artifacts, and specifications to tell a product story. Tags: See Other Types of Product Managers.

Relevant Certifications: AIPMM certifications, CSPO, Product Owner by Scrum Inc.

Product Manager

Acts as the product expert and develops a strong understanding of market needs and brand-value propositions. Manages the project lifecycle, including strategic planning of a roadmap through tactical deployment. Cultivates strong working relationships by building team commitment and trust with internal business partners in accordance with established budgets, work plans, and scope. In addition, focuses on the customer to bridge the gap between customer needs and internal solutions, providing optimal long-term product success. Tags: See Other Types of Product Managers.

Relevant Certifications: AIPMM certifications, CSPO, PDMA-NPD, Product Owner by Scrum Inc.

Product Marketing Manager

Positions, promotes and establishes the lifecycle of a set of products from concept through deployment and iteration, ensuring continuity of the product portfolio to support company sales initiatives. May research and collaborate to create global market documents as well as provide insight into the value proposition and track market trends. Communicates across an organization, even globally, in sales and marketing as well as customer product support. Tags: Consumer Marketing Manager, Business Development Product Specialist, or See Other Types of Product Managers.

Relevant Certifications: AIPMM certifications, CSPO, PDMA-NPD, Product Owner by Scrum Inc.

Product Development Manager

Develops and tracks KPIs to measure and manage vendor performance, cost improvements, and product quality. Creates and manages a roadmap for future product ideas that includes competitive analysis and marketability. Works cross-functionally with other teams, like finance and marketing, to streamline operations and communications. Serves as quality control for a product from production to delivery while also supporting clients or customers. Tags: New Product Manager, Business Development Product Manager, or See Other Types of Product Managers. 

Relevant Certifications: AIPMM certifications, CSPO, PDMA-NPD, Product Owner by Scrum Inc.

Product Owner

Maintains the product backlog of incidents and prioritizations. Responsible for developing user stories for packaging of product release. Provides test-case scenario and documentation approval. Collaborates with product development, architects, support services, and external stakeholders. Problem solves with development managers and teams for solutions. Tags: Specific to an Industry or System like Digital or Salesforce, or Part of Lifecycle, Such as Post-Product Owner. 

Relevant Certifications: Agile or scrum certifications, AIPMM-ACPMPO, CSPO, PDMA-NPD, Product Owner by Scrum Inc.

Senior Level:

Product Lead

Leads and manages the entire product development lifecycle to drive a detailed product strategy with prioritized requirements and prototypes. Builds a deep understanding of the customer personas, industries, and product experience. Partners with other teams and leaders to monitor timelines and commitments to key initiatives. Additionally, collaborates with company leaders to address retention and growth strategies while also filling product gaps with usage trends to improve customer experience. Tags: Product Design Lead or Others Specific to an Industry or System like Digital Product Lead. 

Relevant Certifications: AIPMM certifications, CSPO, PDMA-NPD, Product Owner by Scrum Inc.

Portfolio Manager

Leads a portfolio in strategy, program management, technology implementation. and process innovation to deliver significant impact. Ensures the success of the overall portfolio by partnering to drive adoption, communication, training, and change management across various initiatives within a company. Provides day-to-day oversight and quality assurance for programs and tasks, anticipating, escalating, and resolving issues to advise on readiness to launch. Leads and motivates regular cross-functional interactions to ensure alignment on deliverables, timelines, and status. Tags: Diversity Portfolio Manager, Group Product Manager, Product Director, Portfolio and Planning Manager, Product Portfolio Manager.

Relevant Certifications: AIPMM certifications, CSPO, PDMA-NPD, Product Owner by Scrum Inc.

Senior Product Manager

Provides vision and leadership as a subject-matter expert for each vertical product line and product lifecycle. Researches and delivers product roadmaps to incorporate key enhancements for release. Often a liaison among product, sales, customer support, and customer success teams. Dedicated to agile foundations and best practices while seeking ways to improve delivery processes. Tags: Senior Director of Product Management, Senior Manager, Project Strategist, Others or Specific to an Industry or System like Senior Windows Product Manager, Senior Platform Product Manager, etc. 

Relevant Certifications: Agile or Scrum certifications, AIPMM certifications, CPM, CSPO, PDMA-NPD, Product Owner by Scrum Inc.

Director, Product Management

Utilizes extensive experience leading teams through obstacles. Evaluates market opportunity along with successful outcomes. Develops and executes  global product roadmaps for the lifecycle of current and new products for all addressable markets. Works cross-functionally with key stakeholders and delivers solutions that meet their needs. Leverages company initiatives for sustained growth. Researches segments while growing market share in regulated and validated segments with application-specific solutions, as well as analyzes competitive markets. Tags: Product Management Director, Director of Product Management, or Other Roles Specific to an Industry or System like Digital Product Manager. 

Relevant Certifications: Agile or scrum certifications, AIPMM certifications, CPM, CSPO, PDMA-NPD, Product Owner by Scrum Inc.

Chief Product Officer (CPO)

Leads a global team of product managers, dev operations, and engineering teams responsible for all customer-facing products. Achieves growth by positioning products well for the market and target personas. Owns the roadmap and ongoing status communication with all stakeholders. Coordinates training, support, and delivery for staff to ensure product vision for success. Works closely with senior leadership, product marketing, and client-facing teams to identify and prioritize products and new opportunities. Responsible for each product P&L and key metrics while serving as the voice of the customer in the product-creation and strategy development process. Tags: Chief Development Officer, Chief Strategy Officer, Senior Vice President (SVP) or Vice President (VP) titles or Other Roles Specific to an Industry or System like Chief Nursing Officer, etc.

Relevant Certifications: Any/all

Career Support

Learn how you’re supported as an enrolled boot camp student using the Intro to Career Support: Product Management.

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