How to Become a Product Manager?

Are you thinking of becoming a Product Manager or already started your career and planning the next step? Learn how to become a Product Manager, what skills you need to succeed, how to advance your career and get promoted, and what levels of pay to expect at each step on your career path. Explore new Product Manager job openings and options for career transitions into related roles.

Steps to Become a Product Manager

When pursuing a career in product management, it's important to select the right certification and complete the certification exam. Becoming a product manager typically requires only those few steps, but it's important to complete a required number of hours for your certification.

Choose a product manager certification.

The Product Management Institute (PMI) offers two project management certifications: Certified Associate in Product Management (CAPM) and Product Management Professional (PMP). The CAPM certification doesn't require previous product management experience, while candidates for the PMP certification must have 4,500 hours of product management experience before they begin the certification process. While the CAPM certification doesn't require you to complete product management hours, you do have to have 1,500 hours of work experience, a high school diploma, and an associate's degree.

To qualify for the PMP certification, you need a four-year degree in addition to the 4,500 hours of product management experience. You can also begin the PMP certification process with a high school diploma and 7,500 hours of project management experience.

What type of degree should you pursue to become a Product Manager?

82% of people working as a Product Manager earned a Bachelor's Degree

What skills do you need to be a Product Manager?

  • Javascript
  • Business Case Development
  • Agile
  • English Language
  • Python
  • Collaboration
Based on resume data from Glassdoor users who reported working as a Product Manager in the United States.

Begin the product manager certification process.

The CAPM and PMP each require you to complete a specific number of educational hours before taking the certification exam. If you want to take the CAPM exam, you must complete 23 hours of product management education. To sit for the PMP exam, you have to complete 35 hours of product management education. The Product Management Institute offers the required courses through local PMI chapters.

You can also apply PMI-approved university and continuing education classes towards your hours. The PMI also accepts hours completed through dedicated training companies and work-sponsored programs. Be sure to keep detailed records of all of your completed courses and the organizations that offer them.


Study for the product manager certification exam.

When you're close to completing your educational hours, you can start studying for the certification exam. Whether you're taking the CAPM exam or the PMP exam, you should familiarize yourself with the Product Management Institute's Product Management Body of Knowledge Guide (PMBOK). In addition to the PMBOK, you should study the Exam Content Outline for whichever exam you're taking. These outlines explain the content covered in each exam.


Take the product manager certification exam.

Once you feel as though you've studied all you can, it's time to take the certification exam. The CAPM exam has 150 questions, and you can take it online or at a testing center. The PMP exam has 200 questions, and you must take it at a testing center.

After you take the exam and complete a short exit survey, you'll find out if you've passed. Keep in mind that if you don't pass, you can take the test two more times within the year. Once you pass, you can list your certification on your resume and find the product management position that's right for you.

Product Manager Career Path

Product Manager

5 - 7Years of Experience
$121K - $205K /yrMost Likely Range
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Lead Product Manager

5 - 7Years of Experience
$160K - $245K /yrMost Likely Range
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Senior Lead Product Manager

5 - 7Years of Experience
$166K - $259K /yrMost Likely Range
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Total Pay Trajectory

Product Manager Career Path

Summer Intern Product Manager
Associate Product Manager
Product Manager
Product Manager Manager
Lead Product Manager
Senior Manager of Product
Senior Lead Product Manager
Assistant Director of Product
Principal Product Manager
Associate Director of Product
Senior Principal Product Manager
Director of Product
Senior Director of Product
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Related Careers in the Product & Project Management Industry

Interested in other Product & Project Management careers? Below are occupations that have high affinity with Product Manager skills. Discover some of the most common Product Manager career transitions, along with skills overlap.

Product Line Manager
No skills overlap
10% transitioned to Product Line Manager