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How to Become a Product Manager

Is Product Manager a Good Career?

Ready to start your career in Product? Find out more about BrainStation's Product Management Course

The salaries are generous, the perks are good, the work is rewarding, and the position is in high demand; if that sounds good to you then, yes, Product Manager is a good career.

In 2016, the Wall Street Journal reported that Product Manager was the most coveted job title among MBA graduates. The following year, according to Hired’s Global State of Tech Salaries, Product Managers brought home the highest average salaries of any tech role, averaging $138,000 and growing (in the U.S., that number was up 5.9 percent over the year before). And in 2018, CBS News listed it among the nine best jobs in America, noting the abundance of openings.

Demand Rising for Product Managers

One of the reasons for both the high demand and high salaries Product Managers enjoy is that the combination of hard and soft skills makes it especially hard to find candidates that are a good fit. The perspective about what makes for a good Product Manager is slowly shifting, and as a result, the attributes a hiring manager will prioritize over others—such as team management and leadership—are shifting as well.

“I’m often asked: how do I hire Product Managers?” writes Author and Product Management Consultant Matt LeMay of the challenge inherent in finding Product Managers with all the right strengths. “Part of the reason for this, I believe, is that many high-profile and high-tech products have publicly failed to live up to their expectations. The idea that shipping software—any software—is itself a holistic end goal is much harder to support now than it was five years ago. And as venture capital becomes more interested in companies that are revenue-focused and truly understand their market, there is an appreciable shift away from ‘just ship software’ and towards ‘ship the right software.’”

In other words, successful product management doesn’t begin with a product; it begins with a deep understanding of the marketplace and its trends—and of the fact that, increasingly, a product’s life-cycle never ends.

As a result, one of the primary benefits of being a Product Manager is also one of its primary challenges: broad knowledge of the tech sector and its trends is difficult to acquire, but for those who do, this knowledge becomes a valuable asset. And while experience working in tech is a plus, experience alone isn’t enough to hone this skill. A good certificate course will help develop that experience into high-level thinking by teaching you how to identify market opportunities, user needs, and which products customers will actually buy.

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