7 Product Management Jobs for Innovators

Learn about the types of entry-level and advanced product manager jobs you can pursue in this field and tips for the process.

portrait of Tessa Cooper
by Tessa Cooper

Published September 7, 2022

Edited by Desiree Cunningham
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7 Product Management Jobs for Innovators
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Product managers orchestrate the behind-the-scenes tasks that result in the production of your favorite physical and virtual goods. They oversee production teams and think strategically to enhance current products. Without their careful planning, production facilities and tech companies would not function as efficiently.

Many product manager jobs only require a bachelor's degree. Common majors include computer science and business management. These professionals often work for engineering, architectural, tech, and production companies. Read on to learn about the types of entry-level and advanced product manager jobs you can pursue in this field and tips for success.

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7 Types of Jobs in Product Management

Architectural Engineering Manager

Architectural engineering managers oversee operations at architectural and engineering firms. They lead development projects and check the accuracy of work. These professionals develop concepts for new projects and solve maintenance and manufacturing issues. In May 2021, 34% of these managers worked for manufacturing companies, and 27% worked for architectural and engineering services.

Architectural engineers need analytical, organizational, and communication skills. They must all know advanced calculus.

Product Engineer

Product engineers design efficient systems that create products. They may observe factory operations and look for improvement opportunities. Engineers also research the best manufacturing locations and methods for delivering products to customers.

These professionals must have excellent communication skills, as they communicate with vendors, clients, and management personnel. Product engineers also need a combination of math and writing skills. Product engineers use calculus and trigonometry for designing and troubleshooting, and utilize written communication for creating reference documents for engineers and scientists.

Product Management Analyst

Product management analysts use market research to determine the needs of a target consumer, create products that meet consumer needs, and improve an existing product. In May 2021, 31% of these professionals worked in professional, scientific, and technical services. These professionals must have excellent interpersonal communication and critical thinking skills.

Product Owner

Product owners evaluate a team's work to ensure optimal product functionality, set and communicate strategic goals to stakeholders, assess competitor performance, and maintain working relationships with involved parties. Professionals with entrepreneurship skills and product management experience often thrive in this role. They must also possess strong analytical and critical thinking skills.

Project Management Specialist

Project management specialists coordinate the creation of a product. These professionals primarily work with technical staff. They create project budgets and coordinate a schedule. These professionals often work with clients and communicate the product goals to the production team. These professionals primarily work for architectural and engineering companies. They need strong leadership and problem-solving skills. They also need to know how every stage of the production process operates. With study, research, and a plan, project managers can make the transition to product management.

Software Product Manager

These product managers oversee the creation of software. They provide direction for developers and identify solutions for technical problems. These professionals need experience in computer programming. They also need strong interpersonal skills and possess attention to detail. Often, they work as software developers before becoming managers. In May 2021, 26% of software product professionals worked in computer systems design and related services.

Technical Product Manager

Technical product managers analyze production data and reports. They ensure production stays on track with budget and timeline goals. They also troubleshoot issues with manufacturing technology and hire and evaluate machine operators. They stay up to date with new manufacturing equipment and make upgrade suggestions. These professionals must possess business knowledge. They understand how departments work together to create and market products. They also need problem-solving and leadership skills.

How to Become a Product Manager

Becoming a product manager begins with earning a high school diploma or equivalent. Learners can then start to work on their bachelor's degree. Aspiring product managers often major in business, computer science, or software engineering.

While completing their undergraduate studies, learners can gain hands-on experience through internships. Participating in an internship also allows students to build their resumes and hone their interview skills before they graduate. Learners can also look into co-ops for additional experience.

After graduation, future product managers get on-the-job experience in development or specialist positions. After learning more about the trade, they can begin to apply for product management positions.

Some competitive product management positions may require a master's degree, such as an MBA. However, people who do not go back to school for a degree can earn a certificate instead. Some employers may offer raises to product managers who pursue higher education.

Product Management Salary

Product manager salaries vary widely and are often dependent on experience and industry. Product managers in food manufacturing earn a median annual salary $98,500, as of May 2021. However, product managers working in the chemical manufacturing industry earn a median wage of $125,480.

To further illustrate this discrepancy, consider that industrial production product managers in the top 10% earned more than $170,470 in May 2021, while the lowest 10% earned less than $64,150. With time, experience, and careful consideration of the industry, product managers may gain access to higher-paying positions.

How to Find a Product Management Job

The key to landing a product management job after college starts with planning. Students should pursue internships, mentorships, and job-shadowing opportunities during their studies to gain experience, compile a work portfolio, and build their resumes with related work.

In their final year of studies, students should start applying for product management jobs. Some larger tech cities host in-person and virtual career fairs. Aspiring product managers can also access online career services like virtual job boards. For example, the Product Manager Job Board posts jobs specifically for this field.

Professional organizations often post openings, too. The next section highlights three product management professional organizations.

Product Management Professional Organizations

Frequently Asked Questions About Product Management Jobs

What is the highest-paid product management job?

Architectural engineering managers are among some of the highest earners in this field. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), these professionals earn a median annual income of $152,350, as of May 2021. This career also only requires a bachelor's degree.

An architectural engineering manager's specialization can impact their salary. These professionals who work in the scientific research and development services industry earned an even higher median wage in May 2021 at $187,240. The managers who worked in this role for the government earned less, a median annual wage of $135,150.

Is product management a good career?

Whether product management is a good career is dependent on your career goals, personal interests, strengths, and salary goals. More senior or specialized roles, like architectural engineering managers, may result in a higher salary.

Likewise, assessing the coursework for a product management degree can help you determine if the role is within your interest. Product management can be a good career, but it is up to you to decide if it's a good fit.

Can I become a product manager with an online degree?

Employers view accredited online degree programs the same as accredited in-person degree programs. To ensure the accreditation status of a school or program, use the U.S. Department of Education's Look-Up Tool.

When schools earn accreditation, it means they receive quality assessments from a third-party organization. The U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation oversee these agencies.

How much money can I make as a product manager?

Earning potential for product managers increases with more years of experience. According to data accessed in August 2022 from Payscale, these professionals earn an average of about $76,390. However, product managers with less than one year of experience earn an average of $59,000. At the same time, these professionals with more than 20 years of experience earn an average of $93,000.

The location also influences earning potential. For example, industrial production managers in California earned an average income of $128,180 in May 2021, according to BLS. During the same time, these professionals in Ohio earned an average wage of $112,270.

What is the fastest way to become a product manager?

Learners can quickly become product managers by pursuing an accelerated bachelor's degree. This fast-paced program format usually takes about three years to finish. Learners may also benefit from an online self-paced program. These programs allow learners to watch recorded lectures and complete coursework at their own pace.

Fortunately, many product management positions only require a bachelor's degree. However, aspiring product managers may need to work in nonmanagement positions for a few years. Many management positions require at least two years of on-the-job experience. Some competitive positions may also require a master's degree.

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