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I think one of the most fascinating products out today is the Makerbot’s Thingomatic. Basically it’s a 3D printer, meaning it crafts material into a physical shape that you select. How cool is that!? This awesome product would never have come into existence without a product manager guiding it from concept to creation. Basically a product manager analyzes the environment, investigates, selects, and develops products throughout many stages of iteration for their company.
A product manager investigates, selects, and develops products. To do this, a product manager considers factors like the intended demographic, the products offered by the competition, and how well the product fits with their company’s business model. However, due to tradition and intuitive interpretations by different individuals, the product manager title is used in many ways to describe drastically different duties and responsibilities.
For example, in the financial services industry, product managers manage products and their profit and loss while determining the business development strategy. Compare that to a tech environment, a product manager usually has the main role of developing and representing the product to the customer. Additional responsibilities may include product marketing and analysis of the competition.
In some companies, the product manager also acts as a:
It would be unfair to say there’s a typical day for a product manager, but here are some tasks you might encounter:
A product manager makes between $44,000-$121,000 per year, while the average is about $95,000. You might go on to become a Senior Product Manager ($115,000), a Principal Product Manager ($114,000), or a Product Manager Director ($135,000).
Here are some hot spots for product managers:
To be a product manager you’ll most likely need an undergrad degree, preferably in computer science, engineering or business. Beyond that you can get a product management certification (for example PMI and PMP), but in many cases it’s not required. Generally employers tend to care most about what skills you have and what you will be able to learn. Great product managers understand their markets and customers. They can discover and value the problems and opportunities faced by the customers in those markets and prioritize the problems and their solutions to achieve a product strategy. Furthermore, they need to be able to communicate effectively, both with customers and with internal stakeholders.
If product management still sounds like your cup of tea, here are a few things you should do to get started.
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