How To Become A Product Manager

Breaking into product management isn't easy, but it's more than possible with the right attitude and some hard work.

Product Management is the intersection of users, business, and technology

To become a product manager, you’ll need to build a skillset that spans business, technology, and user experience. Product managers need a mix of soft and hard skills, including:

Outside of big tech, the specifics of your education aren’t nearly as important as its relevance and a demonstration of relevant knowledge.

Many product managers don’t have a master’s degree (myself included!). So don’t assume that’s a hard requirement, even when it’s listed in the job description. 

Before committing to getting into product management, be sure to research the realities of the job. People tend to glorify the PM role, so keep in mind that with the good comes a lot of pressure, responsibility, unpredictability, and (often) stress. 

If you’re ready to get serious about becoming a product manager, here’s a high-level set of key steps:

  1. Build up your background knowledge by learning about product management fundamentals. Things such as the product development lifecycle, development process, and core principles.
  2. Start developing your product management skillset, including customer research, market analysis, product sense, and prioritization/roadmapping. Consider investing the time to read and study the most practical product management books.
  3. Gain relevant experience, whether through working on a side project, taking on product-related projects in your current job, or even doing a product management internship within your own company (where you can go back to your regular job after trying out product management full-time).
  4. Network with product managers in your industry to learn from their experiences and potentially find entry-level job opportunities.
  5. Hone your interviewing skills through the many resources available online and the very popular book Cracking The PM Interview.
  6. Apply for entry-level or associate product manager positions, highlighting your transferable skills from other roles as well as any product management projects and experience. Be sure to include any formal training or certifications you’ve obtained, but don’t assume they’ll be sufficient without practical experience.

The most important things are to build a diverse skill set, get hands-on experience, and demonstrate your passion for delivering great products to users.