what is a product manager?

As a product manager, you ensure a company produces relevant and profitable products matching users' needs. Aside from ensuring the products are feasible, you maximise the return on investment for your employer. Your job is to manage everything that falls outside the responsibilities of sales and marketing, developers, designers and end users. Since every business and product has a unique constellation of users and developers, your specific duties depend on the product niche. For instance, a consumer product is expected to serve millions of customers, and the product manager manages the design to suit many consumers.

what does a product manager do?

The role of a product manager involves liaising with stakeholders and management. For instance, you define the product vision by determining the problems it will solve and the target consumers. You also empower the design team to deliver the highest value by reviewing product specs and participating in testing. Product managers are experts in market trends, quantitative and qualitative data drawn from user research, and competitive analysis. When you understand the implications of the product, you can prioritise features and lay out an actionable plan for a product idea.

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average salary of a product manager

The typical remuneration package for a product manager is $120,000 per year. New product managers start with a salary of $78,000 annually as they learn the ropes. When you are experienced in product management, your remuneration package increases to $150,000 annually. Your pay often includes various benefits and allowances.

what factors affect the salary of a product manager?

The remuneration package of a product manager depends on the industry, level of experience and the employer. Some industries require a high level of expertise due to complex duties. Hence, the salaries are higher in some business sectors compared to others. For instance, working in technology companies or developing technical products is likely to pay more than developing consumer goods in the retail sector.

When you work for a large company, your remuneration package matches the job complexity and the resources available. Small startups may not pay large salaries due to limited resources. Your education and level of experience also influence your salary. Your earnings are lower when you are new in the role due to your minimal experience. Having more years of experience attracts higher remuneration packages.

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types of product managers

Some of the types of product managers include:

  • technical product managers: as a technical product manager, you work with engineering and product design teams to develop technical products. You analyse trends, study competitors' products and develop features to improve the performance of the technical products in the market.
  • growth product managers: your job is to ensure the existing products maintain their competitiveness. You find avenues for product growth by working with the research and design teams to create new features to increase profitability.
  • digital product managers: a digital product manager oversees the development and creation of digital products. You determine customer needs and translate them into product features. You also conduct extensive market research to balance customer expectations with business goals.
  • software product managers: as a software product manager, you work with developers and designers to create functional software. You analyse software solutions and ensure the product is up to date.

working as a product manager

Product managers guide the product development team and help them actualise ideas. Check out a product manager's duties, work environment and work schedules.

Team having a discussion in front of a huge monitor
Team having a discussion in front of a huge monitor

education and skills

Formal qualifications are not mandatory for becoming a product manager, but the following qualifications improve your employment prospects:

  • education: you require training in a related discipline like business, marketing, science, IT or computer science. Your educational qualifications help you gain knowledge relevant to idea generation and product development. You can also complete a product management course or certification to improve your skills and experience.
  • work experience: you cannot work as a product manager without gaining work experience. Find entry-level jobs to help you develop the necessary skills and improve your experience.

skills and competencies

Some of the qualities of a product manager include the following:

  • commercial awareness: as a product manager, being familiar with the company's target market is crucial. To develop product ideas, you rely on sales statistics, value propositions, key product features and market demographics. Having commercial insight and knowledge of market statistics helps you create profitable products that match the market requirements.
  • analytical skills: as a product manager, you conduct research to determine the strengths and opportunities in the market. You rely on your analytical skills to perform the SWOT and data analysis that aid decision-making.
  • problem-solving skills: as a product manager, you develop a product that solves specific customer problems. Your problem-solving skills help you find innovative solutions and upgrades for products. A product manager with problem-solving ability can brainstorm product ideas and find solutions to various problems.
  • presentation skills: the role of a product manager involves making presentations in webinars and giving demos to product teams. You require presentation skills to make concise and engaging presentations.

FAQs about working as a product manager

Here, you will find the answers to the most frequently asked questions about the product manager profession.

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