8 Careers Built on Product Management

Product management continues to expand as a profession. And demand for qualified product managers is growing at every level. There are a variety of roles and responsibilities depending on experience level that you could potentially find yourself in.
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Product management continues to expand as a profession. And demand for qualified product managers is growing at every level. There are a variety of roles and responsibilities depending on experience level that you could potentially find yourself in.

Opportunities range from an Associate Product Manager all the way to CPO. Currently, the average base salary in the United States for a product manager is $111,000 annually, and can grow past $1M in total compensation for a Chief Product Officer.

So, if you are considering a career in product management let me help you find your place. Here is a list of the most common product management titles:

1. Chief Product Officer
The Chief Product Officer (or CPO) usually reports directly to the CEO and is responsible for all product activities inside of an organization. They typically work on setting the overall product strategy designed to achieve corporate vision and goals set by the CEO and board members. The CPO sometimes plays the role of CMO as well. In this case, he manages the marketing and development of the product.

2. SVP, Product Management
The Senior Vice President of Product Management (or SVP of Product) is a senior-level product leader inside an organization who usually reports to a C-level executive, EVP, or GM. The SVP leads a large team of product managers.

They also work closely with other key leaders in Engineering, Sales, Support, and Marketing to ensure that their company is building the right product to support the business goals.

3. VP, Product Management
The Vice President of Product Management (or VP of Product) is usually found in larger, more established organizations. They are an executive influencer responsible for large initiatives and building what will create the most value to the business. They work daily to keep cross-functional teams aligned, and usually have a seat at the executive table when discussing strategy and even M&A activities.

The VP of Product Management often has influence in the organization well beyond the small size of the organization they manage. Product management groups tend to be much smaller than other functions like engineering, sales, and support.

4. Director, Product Management
The Director of Product Management usually reports to the VP of Product in a larger organization or to the CEO or business unit leader in a smaller organization. This is a senior management role that requires management experience and the ability to collaborate with executives and other cross-functional leaders.

The Director of Product Management should be able to articulate a clear vision for the future of the product, communicate with customers, and work to prioritize the product backlog and define features that will achieve the most business value for their organization.

5. Group Product Manager
The Group Product Manager (or GPM) is tasked with the leadership and direction of a product team that is responsible for a specific group of products. It is the most important non-executive role that a product manager can have and often is responsible for managing other product managers.

The daily responsibilities of a GPM include research, strategy, and product development. In most cases, strategy is handed down from an executive member of the product team. The GPM is then responsible for implementation and execution.

6. Product Manager
The Product Manager (or PM) is responsible for the strategy, roadmap, and feature definition of a product or product line. The role involves working with cross-functional teams and may include marketing, forecasting, and profit and loss (P&L) responsibilities. A PM analyzes the market and competitive environment to define a differentiated product vision that delivers unique value. This role spans many types of activities, from strategic to tactical.

A Product Manager provides cross-functional leadership and bridges organizational gaps between different functional groups, most often between engineering, marketing, sales, and support.

7. Associate Product Manager
An Associate Product Manager (or APM) is an entry level position, usually reporting to a Product Manager or Group Product Manager. This is often a mentorship position and the start of a product manager's career.

Associate PMs have the opportunity to learn from senior product leadership and form a strong foundation on product management and an understanding of design and development of new products. The responsibilities of an Associate Product Manager include UI designs, managing new ideas and features, analyzing data, and constantly looking for new ways to improve the product.

8. Product Owner
Some Agile teams have both a Product Manager and a Product Owner. Rather than task a single person with both external and internal responsibilities, the role is split into two parts. The Product Manager is charged with communicating the voice of the customer -- and is tasked with achieving customer and market success.

Meanwhile, agile development teams demand that the customer representative (aka the Product Owner) must articulate detailed user stories, participate in daily scrum rituals, and answer questions at all times.

No matter where you enter as a Product Manager, the role is as challenging as it is exciting. And hopefully now that you have read a few of the potential careers you have a better idea of which one is right for you.

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