What’s In a Name? The Different Types of Product Manager

If you browse through LinkedIn, you’ll find an absolute treasure trove of job titles among product people. Some of them are pretty easy to understand. Product Manager, Senior Product Manager, etc.

Others are a bit more creative. Product Guru, Product Genius…

And then we get to the job titles that seem to be a mile long. Senior VP of Digital Consumer Products (Growth). Senior Product Enterprise Wizard.

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Product Management is a very nuanced profession, with so many gray areas. We want to cut through the noise a little bit and take you through some of the most common Product titles, to help you understand who people in your community are and what they do.

Starting Off: What is a Product Manager?

A Product Manager sits at the intersection between technology, design, and business. Rather than having any official authority over people, they act as a leader by guiding teams towards a shared end goal.

Usually they will preside over one particular product, working with designers, engineers, marketing, and business analysts. They are essentially the glue that keeps the whole team working together. They also communicate with stakeholders, own the product vision, have a deep understanding of their customers, and create the product roadmap.

If you’ve been looking at Product Manager jobs, you might have seen a few variations of the title. There may be fewer people applying for these jobs as they’re more specialized, giving you an opportunity to get your foot in the door. It’s always a good idea to capitalize on your non-Product experience and use it to your advantage.

Take a look at the different types of Product Manager, and see if you’re a match:

1. Technical Product Manager

Average Technical Product Manager Salary: $129, 284 (US)

A Technical Product Manager is one of the easier job titles to understand. A TPM is like a normal PM, but who has a strong technical background. Perhaps they transitioned to Product Management from engineering.

While most of their actual duties will be identical to a non-technical Product Manager, they’ll be able to lend more of their skills to the engineering team, and have a more hands-on role. It might mean that they have less time to dedicate other aspects of product, like marketing.

2. Data/Analytics Product Manager

Average Data Product Manager Salary: $129,594 (US)

Another very self-explanatory title. A Data PM will be more adept at data management and analysis. They may work more closely with the data scientists, or in a small startup where man-power is thin on the ground, they may adopt the duties of data scientist.

Data Product Management is a great career choice for anyone who loves working with numbers. Neither data nor Product Management are disappearing any time soon!

excited data  unicorn GIF by Sherchle

3. Product Marketing Manager

Average Product Marketing Manager Salary: $105,890 (US)

A lot of Product Managers come from marketing backgrounds, and it’s useful for any PM to have some kind of basic marketing knowledge. Plenty of Product Leaders say that marketing needs to be built into the product from the beginning. If Product Managers are already doing all of that…what does a Product Marketing Manager do?

A PMM is less involved in how the product is built, and will probably spend less time with engineers working out bugs and roadmaps. The day-to-day of a PMM will usually include creating case studies, web content, press briefings, product testing, and managing the overall marketing team.

They’re also considered to be the voice of the customer within a product team, and will conduct customer research and organize focus groups. A PMM role can be the perfect transition for marketing professionals to break into Product.

You might also be interested in: I Make $200K as a Product Marketing Manager – The Salary Series

4. Growth Product Manager

Average Growth Product Manager Salary: $108,992 (US)

Growth Product Managers have been on the rise in the last 5 years, and they just keep growing in number! They focus less on the life of on product, and more on improving a certain business metric. While all PMs keep their goals in line with those of the business as a whole, this will be a Growth PM’s primary focus.

They could focus on any stage of the product lifecycle. By owning a metric rather than an entire product, a Growth PM run a series of short-term experiments, working on a micro rather than a macro level.

sustainable growth animation GIF by kijek/adamski

You might also be interested in: Growth Marketing for Product Managers with Sr. Director of Growth at NS1

Climbing the Ladder: Levels of Seniority

Now we know what different types of Product Manager roles involve, let’s look at the career ladder!

Associate Product Manager

Average Associate Product Manager Salary: $80,455 (US)

An Associate Product Manager (also know as APM) is an entry level role and a great way to break into product. Working in an assistant-like position with other Product Managers, an APM is given a variety of smaller tasks to assist with product development.

Some big companies like Facebook and Google run well-known APM programs specifically to help people break into product.

Check out our guide on Everything You Need to Know about APM Programs.

Product Manager

Average Product Manager Salary: $109,992 (US)

Product Managers can usually expect to work alongside other team members and not above them. The key to wielding their ‘power’ is to influence without authority.

Earning the trust of those on the product team is the best way to get things done.

Check out our article on Influence Without Authority.

Senior Product Manager

Average Senior Product Manager Salary: $124,895 (US)

Senior Product Manager roles differer from company to company, and depending on what type of products they’re working with.

Generally, a Senior Product Manager will manage a group of products rather than just one, which means overseeing several Product Managers. Generally this involves a more hands-off approach in terms of individual product development, more meetings, and more interaction with high-level stakeholders. Recruitment will also be a key task for a Senior PM.

Senior Product Management almost always requires several years of experience as a Product Manager, but it’s not uncommon to see Product people from other areas transition to this role.

You might also be interested in: Prioritize Like a Senior Product Manager with Nava Senior PM

Product Lead

Average Product Lead Salary: $171,933 (US)

Product Leads are primarily responsible for new products within a company. When large companies launch something brand new, they need experienced and trustworthy professionals to lead the way.

They spend most of their time liaising between different departments and communicating with senior management. Their main responsibility is to ensure that the final product is delivered on time and within budget, which means schedules and targets are their life’s blood!

You might also be interested in: The Different: OKRs vs KPIs

Group Product Manager

Average Group Product Manager Salary: $195,759 (US)

A Group Product Manager (GPM) is a leadership role which involves directing the product teams responsible for a particular group of products. The role is a fine balance of individual contribution and people management. Some GPMs prefer to lean more towards individual contribution; conducting research, focusing on strategy, and generally being more hands-on with development. Others prefer to have a zoomed-out approach and focus more on managing the teams.

Director of Product Management

boss GIF by Laura Salaberry

Average Director of Product Management Salary: $149,238 (US)

Director of Product Management is a cross-functional leadership role which involves overseeing the work of Senior PMs and the teams they lead. They identify potential areas for growth of a product within its market.

They also handle how Product Management is done within their organization, from leading roadmaps to setting the communication infrastructure used by product teams.

They’ll also have more control over the recruitment process, and may be asked to supply feedback on the Product Managers they oversee and recommend people for promotions.

VP of Product

Average VP of Product Salary: $143,575 (US)

A VP of Product has the opportunity to drastically change the direction of PM at a company, and to shape its Product Culture.

The main responsibility of a VP of Product will be Team Development; making sure that everyone working under you is a strong player. Knowing who has the skills to move up in your organization is a big challenge, as managing products is very different to managing people.

Chief Product Officer

Average Chief Product Officer Salary: $200,000 (US)

A Chief Product Officer (CPO) oversees everything and anything product-related within a company. They have a macro-view of everything that falls under the umbrella of product, including development, design, vision, and execution.

It’s a relatively new role, even compared to how new Product Management is! If you want to be your company’s Steve Jobs – this is the role for you!

What Kind of Product Manager Are You?

You might be looking at this and wondering; “where do I fit into all of this?”

If you’re just starting out, you might have an idea of how your Product Management career will pan out. Or you might have no idea! There are many roads which lead to Product, and even more roads which lead to the top.

Everyone’s journey looks slightly different, and there are many types of Product Manager. If you’re thinking of transitioning from another discipline, check out this handy guide.

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