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Is a Product Management Career a Good Fit for You? Top Things To Know.

General Assembly
September 13, 2022

With the sheer scale of innovation in the tech industry today, product management has become an in-demand skill. There’s a reason why Glassdoor has ranked Product Management as #10 on their list of the “50 Best Jobs in America for 2022”. With a median USA salary of $125,317 per year and 17,725 current job openings, there’s something for everyone.

But is a Product Management career the right fit for you? Keep reading to find out.

WHAT IS PRODUCT MANAGEMENT? 

According to The Product Manager, product management can be defined as a “role within a product development team that focuses on successfully executing the product lifecycle”.

Product management is an increasingly critical role across all industries. For example, product managers play a key role in executing the launch of a new product, as well as acting intermediaries between the UX (user experience) and engineering teams.

“For me, the ultimate job of a product manager is to connect the dots. As a product manager, you have exposure to so many different areas of the company and the product, and ultimately you’re responsible for the product’s success,” explains Julia Godinho, Product Manager at E-Commerce Moonpig.

DAY IN THE LIFE OF A PRODUCT MANAGER.

No two days are the same. But as product managers at Google and Moonpig, We chatted with Anna Bernbaum and Julia Godinho about what their typical day-to-day looks like.

  • To kick off the day, product managers tend to start their day with many meetings. During these early meetings, you tend to sync with the engineering and UX teams to define the week’s priorities and decide what is feasible.

“It’s a mix of meetings from beginning to end; it’s one of the most sociable jobs I think I’ve ever had. There’s a lot of talking, specifically with the engineering and UX teams, to help define product requirements and decide what’s feasible”, says Anna Bernbaum, Product Manager at Google.

  • Secondly, depending on your schedule, your day might also consist of pitching and positioning new ideas for product and feature development. As a product manager, your day tends to be varied, and you will likely be managing multiple projects.

“One day, you could analyze a test you’re running. Another could be interviewing customers, conducting competitor research, and pitching your ideas to leadership. It’s honestly one of the most varied roles”, adds Julia Godinho, Product Manager at Moonpig.

  • As part of the product lifecycle, product analysis and performance reviews are also a product manager’s critical daily tasks. This involves reviewing if the product has met the target user’s or customer’s needs.

“Analysis of exactly how our product has been performing is also something that typically fills up my day”, explains Anna.

WHAT SHOULD YOU ASK YOURSELF TO FIGURE OUT IF PRODUCT MANAGEMENT IS RIGHT FOR YOU?

At first glance, product management looks like a great career choice that is well paid and currently in demand. However, these factors shouldn’t be your only deciding factor. Instead, it’s essential to take a step back and re-evaluate. Here are three questions you should be asking yourself to determine if product management is the right career choice.

Q1. Are you a holistic problem solver?

As we learned earlier, the daily tasks of a product manager vary frequently. Thus, it’s important to ensure you are someone who can take on any challenge, from whatever direction it may come. It’s essential to analyze problems and be passionate about solving them with your team. 

“I think you need a holistic vision to identify the most valuable problems to solve. You need to be able to create navigational planners and motivate yourself and your team to solve problems”, explains Julia. 

Q2. Are you a natural leader?

A big part of a product manager’s job description involves collaboration with cross-departmental teams such as engineers, UX designers, marketing, and legal. As a product manager, you need to lead and provide project clarity for all those teams involved. You must be able to communicate and collaborate well with others. 

Q3. Are you passionate about the industry?

Managing multiple projects at once, motivating your team, and delivering project deadlines can be stressful. If you are considering a product management career, especially in fast-paced industries like tech, you must ensure this is truly something you want to do. 

“Passionate product managers are the ones that stand out. The Chief Product Manager at Moonpig told me before that good product managers are passionate about something and could talk about it nonstop for hours”, adds Julia.  

Still not sure if product management is the right career for you? Take a look at our “Landing Work You Love” e-book to learn more. 

PRODUCT MANAGEMENT CAREER PATHWAY.

During our part-time Product Management Immersive you get to actively work with a career coach on your rèsume, portfolio, and interview skills. Post-graduation, you can continue to work with your career coach until you get hired. Although it can take some time to land your dream job, here are some typical roles our GA graduates land:

1. ASSOCIATE PRODUCT MANAGER

Job Role: Associate product managers are usually sought after by bigger companies that have the budget and teams to hire product managers fresh out of university or bootcamp grads. An associate product manager’s key responsibilities include assisting product managers with their duties, conducting market research, and gathering product requirements. 

Skills Required: Figma, SQL (entry-level), Communication, Problem Solving, Google Analytics, Market Research. 

Average salaries: (according to Glassdoor)

  • USA: Ranges from $62,000 to $115,000 per year. 
  • UK: Ranges from £26,000 to £53,000 per year.
  • Canada: Ranges from C$54,000 to C$98,000 per year. 
  • Singapore: Ranges from SG$4,000 to SG$7,000 per month. 
  • Australia: Ranges from AUS$67,000 to AUS$120,000 per year.

2. PRODUCT MANAGER

Job Role: If you’re coming straight out of university, you probably will be mentored for a while and learn a lot on the job. However, if you come from an associate product manager role, you likely already possess all the fundamental skills required to pivot into the product manager position. As discussed, the primary responsibilities of a product manager include market and competitor research, data analysis, some UX and UI design, collaboration, some basic coding using SQL, and some graphic design work using Figma.

Skills Required: Figma, SQL, Data Analysis, UX, UI, Communication, Problem Solving, Google Analytics, Market Research.

Average salaries: (according to Glassdoor)

  • USA: Ranges from $74,000 to $174,000 per year.
  • UK: Ranges from £38,000 to £88,000 per year.
  • Canada: Ranges from C$63,000 to C$127,000 per year.
  • Singapore: Ranges from SG$4,000 to SG$10,000 per year.
  • Australia: Ranges from AUS$75,000 to AUS$160,000 per year.

3. PRODUCT LEADER

Job Role: This role depends on the company that hires you. For example, product leaders are a more common position in a start-up than in a larger organization. One of the key differences between product leaders and a product manager is that the product leader is much more focused on the product itself, while product managers take on a lot of the management duties as well. Thus, a product leader tends to have more experience on the technical side of things.

Skills Required: Figma, SQL, Data Analysis, UX, UI, Google Analytics.

Average salaries: (according to Glassdoor)

  • USA: Ranges from $34,000 to $210,000 per year.
  • UK: Ranges from £44,000 to £79,000 per year.
  • Canada: Ranges from C$63,000 to C$146,000 per year.
  • Singapore: Ranges from SG$70,000 to SG$220,000 per year.
  • Australia: Ranges from AUS$81,000 to AUS$175,000 per year.

4. TECHNICAL PRODUCT MANAGER

Job Role: The technical project manager works closely with the engineering team to define product requirements and user acceptance criteria and write user stories. The tech product manager tends to focus less on the customers and more on the product. As a tech product manager, you tend to work from a development standpoint and how it fits in with your company’s software ecosystem.

Skills Required: A/B Testing, Product Research, Figma, Prototyping, UX Design, Data Analysis & Extraction, SQL.

Average salaries: (according to Glassdoor)

  • USA: Ranges from $84,000 to $171,000 per year.
  • UK: Ranges from £45,000 to £88,000 per year.
  • Canada: Ranges from C$74,000 to C$141,000 per year.
  • Singapore: Ranges from SG$4,000 to SG$10,000 per month.
  • Australia: Ranges from AUS$88,000 to AUS$161,000 per year.

5. PRODUCT OWNER

Job Role: The responsibilities of a product manager and product owner tend to overlap. However, as the title suggests the product owner tends to focus solely on the product itself. The product owner is responsible for the product backlog. This involves keeping up to date with the list of new product features, changes to current features, and bug fixes. Overall, the product owner is a role that looks at the smaller details rather than the big picture, when compared to the product manager.

Skills Required: A/B Testing, Product Research, Data Analysis & Extraction, SQL, UX, UI, Python.

Average salaries: (according to Glassdoor)

  • USA: Ranges from $78,000 to $166,000 per year.
  • UK: Ranges from £39,000 to £89,000 per year.
  • Canada: Ranges from C$64,000 to C$118,000 per year.
  • Singapore: Ranges from SG$8,000 to SG$13,000 per month.
  • Australia: Ranges from AUS$90,000 to AUS$175,000 per year.

CAREER CHANGERS: HOW YOU CAN TRANSITION TO PRODUCT MANAGEMENT AND START YOUR CAREER TODAY.

Changing careers doesn’t have to be complicated. You just need a plan. To help you hit the ground running and get you one step closer to your dream product management job, here are three pro tips:

Tip #1: Don’t disregard your previous job and career.

Many consider leaving our old careers in the dust when transitioning to a new job. However, you can utilize most of the skills you acquired in your previous job in your new one.

“I think it’s important to highlight transferable skills in any career. For example, if you’ve done a course with GA, things like this will impress the hiring manager. In addition, I recommend you try and build up your product knowledge and showcase any projects you’ve done”, explains Rene Germain, Mobile App Product Manager at American Express.

Tip #2: Brush up on your technical skills.

Nowadays, there are many ways in which you can brush up on your technical skills. From online or in-person bootcamps to full-time or part-time courses, many options don’t necessarily require a four-year-long university commitment (never mind the high-cost associated). Our part-time Product Management Immersive is a great way for you to quickly gain and brush up on valued technical skills today’s employers demand.

Overall, it’s much easier to utilize your soft transferable skills from your previous career to product management. However, with your hard tech skills, it’s a different story. Take a look at the top five tech skills you need to become a product manager in 2022:

  • Data Analysis
  • SQL
  • Competitive Analysis
  • Market Research
  • UX (user experience) and UI (user interface)

Tip #3: Take advantage of your resources.

If you have a genuine hunger and interest in product management, you will build up a decent library of resources. Resources are a great way to stay on top of industry trends and learn more about the job and how you can become a better product manager.

If you go through a product management course, your instructors, career couches, and your cohorts will also be a great source of knowledge and resources. When looking for that first job, these resources are invaluable. As an aspiring product manager, check out books like “Product Management’s Sacred Seven” and “The Anatomy of a Product Launch”.

Interested in transitioning to a career in product management? Check out our Product Management Courses.

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