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Product Management 101 and Career Prospects

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27th Jun, 2017
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Product Management 101 and Career Prospects

Product Manager – a new-age job title that you often keep hearing about. You hear about that guy who went and did his MBA and now works as a Technology Major as a Product Manager.

You wonder how; given that he didn’t study Computer Science in college. You’re also sure that Business Schools don’t teach the subject. So how is it that he ended up as a Product Manager at a tech giant?

More importantly, you wonder what he even does at the firm! 

To top all this off, you often keep hearing catchphrases such as they are the Mini-CEOs and very young but have a founder-like role and get paid handsomely.
You start questioning –

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A job similar to that of a startup founder, while still having the benefits of a paycheck. Is this really the best-of-both-worlds job you’ve been looking for?
What are the skills that will get you within arm’s length of this role? 
Can these be learned and picked up online & how do people transition into such careers?
How do I gain the respect of the core developers when I have little or no knowledge towards coding and how do I even evaluate estimated timelines given by the tech team.
What does career progression in the Product Management space look like?

In this blog, we will try to find some answers to these questions, through the lens of numbers.

We analyzed over 8,000 profiles of Product professionals from the data reported on to dissect what skills they possess, how much money they make, what age group they fall into, what is gender distribution, where do they go next, etc.

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Age Distribution

Product Management 101 and Career Prospects UpGrad Blog
From the above data, we can clearly see that Product Management, as a profession, came into existence very recently. This also emphasizes the constantly changing landscape in the Tech Industry and the importance for one to constantly keep up-skilling as per the market demands. 

Product folks mostly fall into the age group of 31-36 years; their designations could be across the spectrum, i.e., they could be Associate PMs or Senior PMs or even VP of Product. However, this is a broad age range and not limiting. Our database has an entry of a VP of Product who lies within the age bracket of 21-26 years. He was the founder of a startup which got acquired-hired by another firm and voila, and now he is the Head/VP of Product at the larger firm.

One of the beauties of the Product domain is that it is the most democratic form of assessment towards how much value one has added. Here, the pure metrics would be the number of people who used the product and spoke highly of it and the associated traction numbers. Hence, you could be extremely young, (in some cases straight out of college or a fresh graduate) and build something amazing, and soon be catapulted to a VP of Product role as well.

Fairly impressive as a career choice, isn’t it?
Let’s now figure out the other pieces of the puzzle, which need to be addressed to successfully transition to being a Product Manager.

Firstly, get rid of the question referring to ‘which degree you need,’ to become a Product Manager. Skills, not degrees, count for being a Product Manager. 
At we analyzed data to find out what skills a Product Manager needs to have. From over 5,045 profiles analyzed, the trending skills are as below.

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Trending Skills

Product Management 101 and Career Prospects UpGrad Blog
So, for those who held Product Management as a skill, what other skills did they possess in common?

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Broadly, all of the above skills combined, explain the role. Building the right product, for the right people and making the business profitable. This coordination with multiple stakeholders – from identifying value to building it, to getting the buy-in from Marketing & translating this value into business metrics, is what makes the role all the more interesting. Hands-on learning while building something. Those with an innovative streak, excel at such roles.

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Salary Distribution

Product Management 101 and Career Prospects UpGrad Blog
The Median Salary for Product Managers is around 17.3 lakhs.

Top Schools

Product Management 101 and Career Prospects UpGrad Blog
IIM shows up as the topmost college so far. However, I’d like to reiterate that it’s more of a preferred pool at this point and not a mandatory one.

Career Progression

Product Management 101 and Career Prospects UpGrad Blog
What does career progression for Product Managers look like? What new titles can they assume on being promoted? We analyzed promotion data to find the top moves for a Product Manager. Many go on to start their own product startups. When it comes to promotions, you can move up to being a Senior Product Manager and then go on to become VP of Product.

10 Essential Skills for a Product Manager

Gender Distribution

Product Management 101 and Career Prospects UpGrad Blog
The Male to Female Gender Ratio among Product Managers is nearly 5:1.

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Monthly Take Home Salary

Also, the icing on the cake is that Product Managers earn a lot more when it comes to the Monthly Take Home Salary as compared to people in other roles with the same CTC, as per the data reported on’s Monthly Take Home Calculator. Below is the example of a Product Manager with 3 years of experience: 

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If you have any questions related to Product Management careers, you can check out the UpGrad Careers-In-Shorts video series on Youtube or the UpGrad Product Management Guide; or just comment below!

Study Product Management Courses online from the World’s top Universities. Earn Masters, Executive PGP, or Advanced Certificate Programs to fast-track your career.

Vinod is the Founder of The website lends insights into various career options, salaries, etc. Prior to this, Vinod has founded various other companies like DataKind - India chapter and Mishapp. Vinod was also a Data Sciences Manager at Souq, an e-commerce company that was eventually acquired by Amazon.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1What are the basics of product management?

Product management is basically the job wherein one manages every aspect of a product – from its ideation, design and development to driving its sales in the market by adopting appropriate strategies at different stages of the product cycle, managing financial aspects of the product to measure its return on investment, and more, by leading cross functional teams. Understanding customer experience, identifying market segments and strategies to target each one in the most effective manner, market research to understand when and how additional features may be added to a product, working with technical teams to manage the digital adoption, and more form the basics of product management.

2Is it good to have a job as a product manager?

A product management role is certainly an excellent job to have, especially given the demand for talented product managers today. With the world moving towards digitization, there is a need for smart, passionate individuals who have sufficient understanding of technology as well as business management functions and who can work with cross functional teams to digitize an organisation’s products and services in order to acquire customers, reduce costs and increase revenues. Product managers are often regarded as mini CEOs, since they are responsible for managing and guiding every possible aspect of a product. One can earn good salaries in these roles, depending on their qualifications and experience.

3How to grow in my career as a product manager?

As a product manager, it is important that you keep upgrading your skills with the various advancements in technology. Depending on the requirements of your role, you can pursue short term online courses on technical skills such as coding or wireframe design. You can also work on your skills in business management, or get certifications in product management from well known institutions. It is also important to know that the most successful product managers are those who are able to work and collaborate with people from multiple functions. Thus, keeping up one’s networking skills is extremely important. Depending on your interest, you can then specialise within a specific industry.