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Complete Guide: Types of Product Managers

Moe Ali
Moe Linkedin Profile
CEO, Product Faculty

Are you interested in forging a career in product management? If you are, then one of the things that you should understand is the different types of product managers. This guide will help you figure out the details.

By the end of this guide you will learn what a product manager is, the different types of product managers, what their roles are, how they impact any business, seniority levels, and other important details.

What is a Product Manager?

A product manager is responsible for the process of developing the products of a company or organization. They also formulate and oversee the strategies behind both digital and physical products.

Major roles

They are involved in the creation and development of a product or service’s functions and features. They also play a major role in the launch of new products, features, and services.

To perform their function in any business, product managers work with other team members such as product designers, data scientists, engineers, and others. In their managerial role, they are responsible for ensuring the success of each product offer.

The following are some of the duties that you will perform when you pursue a career in product management:

Why are more companies hiring PMs?

More companies are hiring product managers because they fill a very important need. They are key personnel that layout the vision behind each product. They use innovation for plotting the product roadmap, formulate the strategies to be used, and rollout the tactics in product management and development.

In short, they are essential movers directing where the company would go and how the business will grow. They fine tune current product offerings and find more ways to serve the needs of the market segment that the business caters to.

In the next section, we will go over the different types of product managers, their roles, companies that hire them, and other pertinent information.


Technical

The following are the types of product managers that fall under the technical category. These PMs focus more on the product side of the business process but some also handle marketing to a certain degree.

Technical Product Manager (TPM)

TPMs have a more technical background and as such they work better with product design and engineering teams.

Major Responsibilities: analyze market trends, work with development leads, provide product training, improve existing products, and study competitor products and services.

Strengths: Has a strong eye for technical details

Weaknesses: Has less time on other important tasks such as marketing

What Kind of Companies Hire Them: startups and companies that will need to develop technical aspects of their products. Companies that have very technical products.

What Kind of Training They Need: developers and technology background, preferably with an MBA.

Expected Salary Range: $120,000 to $144,000

Digital Product Managers (DPM)

A DPM oversees the creation and development of digital products. They determine customer needs and translate them into features that their team will design.

Major responsibilities: plan product launch campaigns, research digital products and their features, reach out to customers to determine market sentiment and needs.

Strengths: market research and product development.

Weaknesses: a potential pitfall is in balancing the expectations of stakeholders and the customers. DPMs focus on customer needs which may not always be in alignment with what upper management wants.

What Kind of Companies Hire Them: companies that have been in the market for a while and are rapidly developing new digital products.

What Kind of Training They Need: thorough understanding of web development, coding, and digital products development. They will also need at least a working knowledge of marketing and other business skills.

Expected Salary Range: $80,000 to $100,000

Software Product Managers (SPM)

An SPM oversee software product development from conception to phase out. Determine needs of target customers. Develop strategies to increase profits.

Major responsibilities: determine client needs, work with the design team to create products and features that cater to those needs. Phase out software solutions that are no longer up to date.

Strengths: keen eye for technical details

Weaknesses: may need additional training in sales and marketing

What Kind of Companies Hire Them: tech and software companies

What Kind of Training They Need: the bulk of the required training is in coding and systems analysis and design. Some market research skills training is also essential.

Expected Salary Range: $87,000 to $140,000

Business

These are the types of product managers that have a major focus on the marketing side of things. They handle customer relations, market research, and deal less on product design and engineering. 

Product Operations Manager

Product operations managers (Ops) manage the day to day operations. One of their major concerns is in the transmission and use of product data to make operations more efficient.

Major responsibilities: implement best practices, facilitate sharing of resources and continuous training. Improve communications channels across departments.

Strengths: They specialize in organizational and operational efficiency.

Weaknesses: Needs to touch base on the customer side of operations.

What Kind of Companies Hire Them: companies that have huge organizational structures.

What Kind of Training They Need: systems and procedures and big data management.

Expected Salary Range: $80,000-$100,000

Data Product Manager

This type of PM is more adapted to the field of data management. They work closely with others who specialize in the same field such as analysts and data scientists.

Major responsibilities: find ways to leverage data and not just to put it to use. Product data will be used during the early design phase as well as during design improvements.

Strengths: use of data to improve core functionality of new products.

Weaknesses: does little to influence how product data is used across divisions and teams within the organization.

What Kind of Companies Hire Them: software companies and others that are yet to launch new products to the market.

What Kind of Training They Need: MA in data management

Expected Salary Range: $80,000-$129,594

Product Marketing Manager (PMM)

Think of a PMM as a marketing manager first and a product manager second. They are more focused on the marketing side of the products.

Major responsibilities: understand technical aspects of the company’s products and find ways to market them.

Strengths: they can identify marketing needs of each product. They can work with the product team to create testing, case studies, web content, and other information that will be used by the marketing team.

Weaknesses: less involved in the technical aspects of how products are made.

What Kind of Companies Hire Them: Companies that have a strong need for marketing who also have an intimate understanding of the company’s products.

What Kind of Training They Need: MA in marketing and market research. Some technical training may also be required.

Expected Salary Range: $70,000-$105,000

Growth Product Manager

GPMs take the lead when it comes to experimenting with product design and concepts for new features in existing products. They also make data-driven decision making processes.

Major responsibilities: use data to focus on the eventual success of the business, find new avenues of product growth, research and work with design teams to create features that will increase profitability.

Strengths: strong focus on increase business growth.

Weaknesses: working with technology and design teams to push ideas out.

What Kind of Companies Hire Them: Startups and other businesses looking to increase profitability.

What Kind of Training They Need: MA in marketing with a large focus on data analytics, product testing, and product management.

Expected Salary Range: $71,000 to $146,000

Ecommerce Product Manager

EPMs have extensive knowledge of all of the company’s products listed on the official website. They are responsible for enhancing product sales and performance on all ecommerce platforms.

Major responsibilities: identify appropriate vendors, develop ecommerce platforms, create business strategies, and administer and approve of product delivery systems.

Strengths: ecommerce and financials

Weaknesses: product features and matching it to customer needs

What Kind of Companies Hire Them: companies that are transitioning ecommerce and or strengthening their reach, brand awareness, and online performance

What Kind of Training They Need: ecommerce, web design, content marketing

Expected Salary Range: $71,000 - $109,000

Design

These are the types of product managers that focus more on improving the design of the current products and development and experimentation on new upcoming product offerings. They focus less on product creation and marketing but more improving already existing products.

Product Design Manager (PDM)

PDMs coordinate the work on developing product features and making improvements on current products.

Major Responsibilities: product research, trends research, product analysis, improve product features, and ensure design feasibility

Strengths: strong technical background and use of product data

Weaknesses: requires expertise of data analysts to gather data and do market research

What Kind of Companies Hire Them: companies from various industries from medical to ecommerce.

What Kind of Training They Need: bachelor’s degree, MA, or related experience in the field of product research and design

Expected Salary Range: $73,000 to $123,000

Levels of Seniority

The following are average salaries of different levels of seniority in the field of product management. This will help you gauge how much you will potentially make as you progress in your career.

Entry Level

Product Management Internship

Years of Experience Needed: 0 to 2 years (and more)

Expected Salary Range: $40,000-$101,000

Associate Product Manager

Years of Experience Needed: at least 1 year experience

Expected Salary Range: $70,000-$130,000

Senior Level

Senior Product Manager

Years of Experience Needed: at least 3-5 years and more

Expected Salary Range: $120,000-$150,000

Product Lead

Years of Experience Needed: 3 to 5 years and more

Expected Salary Range: $70,000 to $144,000

Group Product Manager

Years of Experience Needed: 3 to 5 years and more

Expected Salary Range: $104,000-$150,000

Executive Level

Director Product Management

Years of Experience Needed: at least 5 years

Expected Salary Range: $150,000 - $190,000

VP of Product

Years of Experience Needed: at least 5 years

Expected Salary Range: $190,000 - $270,000+

Chief Product Officer/Head of Product

Years of Experience Needed: at least 5 to 10 years

Expected Salary Range: $190,000 - $300,000+

Conclusion

Note that the expected salary ranges presented here are not fixed. Some companies can offer a higher annual salary rate depending on your relative experience and expertise. The more you can bring to the table the better are your chances at getting a more significant offer.

Product management is a growing industry and is in huge demand nowadays when all industries are transitioning to multiple digital platforms. Stand-out by becoming a certified product management professional by enrolling in Product Faculty’s 6-week online course.

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