Learn About Being a Product Manager

By Indeed Editorial Team

December 10, 2019

What does a product manager do?

A product manager is in charge of the process of developing a product from conception through execution, including brainstorming new ideas, marketing to target markets and distribution. Depending on the size of your organization, the product manager may report to the marketing director, vice president of marketing, chief marketing officer or, if the business is smaller, the chief executive officer.

Also referred to as the product officer, product marketing manager, project manager or program manager, they use in-depth knowledge of sales statistics and trends to identify possible opportunities. Other duties of a product manager are:

  • Hiring, managing and supervising the sales staff, including delegating responsibilities  and completing staff performance reviews

  • Setting sales goals and objectives to meet consumer demand that drives the growth of sales

  • Overseeing the marketing activities and developing marketing campaigns and initiatives

  • Reporting status updates to the executive team and applying feedback to strategies

  • Analyzing costs and expenditures, creating budgets with the finance executives and preparing financial performance reports

Average salary

Most project managers work full-time hours during a standard working week. Individuals who have an advanced degree and more relevant experience may earn higher salaries. The salary may also depend on the location of the employer, industry and the size of the business. For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the salary link.

  • Common salary in the U.S.: $102,764 per year

  • Some salaries range from $26,000 to $208,000 per year.

Product manager requirements

A product manager position has requirements for the following:

Education

Employers often require a bachelor’s degree in fields such as business administration or marketing. The degree should include business skills, marketing, statistics or advertising. Once you have completed your degree, you should be equipped to implement strategies for communication, identify market segments their product demands, develop marketing campaigns and apply marketing strategies to diverse industries.

Some employers may prefer that you have an advanced degree, such as a Master of Business Administration (MBA). If your first degree is in business or marketing, you may want to consider gaining an advanced degree in a subject related to the industry that you wish to work in, such as technology or healthcare.

Training

As a product manager, the training that you receive in your new position is likely to focus on ensuring you are familiar with daily responsibilities, client needs and team members. Shadowing an existing member of the management team may help in understanding the new products that you will be marketing and client needs that you will be targeting. You may be trained with industry-specific software or have training that is directed toward laws and regulations that you will need to comply with, especially in the health care field.

Certifications

The Association of International Product Marketing and Management offers a Certified Product Manager (CPM) qualification. The CPM certification is based on best practices discovered by analyzing data and information from product managers worldwide. This qualification is likely to constantly evolve as new data is evaluated. The course covers case studies, competition analysis, market planning, product specifications, how to create a product launch plan and product data modeling.

Skills

A product manager must use their marketing experience to drive product sales, which means they must stay ahead of market trends and understand their industry thoroughly to be effective. As the sales leader, you must have the skills and abilities to manage the team and motivate them toward increasing sales across all markets.

In addition to several years of experience and the appropriate qualifications, a product manager must have the following soft skills:

Interpersonal skills

Excellent written and verbal communication skills can help these professionals effectively discuss strategies with team members, management and other stakeholders.

Leadership

This role manages a team responsible for marketing and selling a product. These professionals work to motivate others, set realistic goals, provide additional guidance and training when necessary and offer constructive feedback.

Strategic thinking

This skill enables product managers to interpret market research and anticipate customer needs to propel their products into current and new markets. They also use these skills to create plans that allow their team to reach goals while staying within budget and scope.

Finance management

Product managers evaluate profit and loss and forecasted expenses to establish the profit of their products. An in-depth understanding of the financial side of business enables them to plan and execute strategies.

Decision-making skills

These managers consider a variety of options, anticipate outcomes and make decisions that can positively impact their team and organization, often within strict time-frames.

Project manager work environment

Most product managers work full-time hours and cover regular business hours. Some deadlines may require them to work additional hours or weekends. Product managers spend the majority of their time working in an office and may be part of a small team or work in a large multi-national company, depending on their industry and company size. Some travel may be required to visit international clients or national and international office branches, depending on the size of the organization.

How to become a product manager

A career as a product manager can be exciting and challenging. Follow these steps to start your career as a product manager.

1. Earn a bachelor’s degree.

A degree in business or a related field can provide you foundational principles to apply in the workplace. You may be able to acquire this degree on a part-time basis while working in an entry-level job in your intended industry.

2. Consider an advanced degree.

An MBA may be a requirement for the role, so this step can help further distinguish yourself from other candidates. If your first degree was in a subject that is non-business related, a master’s in business can provide you the necessary foundational principles.

3. Pursue certification.

There is a growing number of employers who look for the CPM credential because it shows that you are committed to the role and adhere to superior standards.

4. Gain relevant experience.

Many product manager positions require a few years of experience in marketing, sales or a relevant industry. You may be able to secure an internship while you are earning a degree. You can also gain experience through entry-level positions, working your way into management positions.

5. Apply for product manager roles.

Use your resume to highlight your relevant work history and demonstrate to potential employers that you are qualified for the role. Write a cover letter that further explains your skills, experience and dedication to the role and the specific company you’re applying for.

Product manager job description example

We are looking for a highly motivated, results-driven product manager to join our team. You will be responsible for the sales and strategy of our product across target markets. You should be experienced in customer contact and sales in all forms. You must also be an effective leader of the sales team, and your top priority will be to drive sales growth. As part of upper management, you will play a key role in defining our success. You must be a hands-on manager who enjoys being on the front line of sales.

Main responsibilities:

  • Responsible for coordinating sales activities and driving our sales through telesales and face-to-face interactions with clients

  • Analyze the current market trends and our competitors

  • Develop, execute and meet new sales goals to beat the previous year’s sales accomplishments

  • Monitor expenses and cost control

  • Foster new and existing relationships with clients

  • Create marketing material and manage the distribution

  • Identify staffing requirements and hire and train staff

Role requirements:

  • A bachelor’s degree in business, tourism, marketing, communication or related field; MBA degree is desirable

  • A natural leader who leads by example

  • Business acumen with management skills and persuasion ability

  • Statistics management and numerical capabilities

  • Strategic mindset with a perspective on future growth

  • Ability to work under pressure, multi-task and possess outstanding organization skills

  • Exceptional interpersonal skills and communication skills

Related careers

  • Administrative assistant

  • Product marketing manager

  • Brand ambassador

  • Logistics coordinator

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