There is (still) no full academic training for product managers. Some combine business and technical training (eg MSc in Industrial engineering, first an MScEE and then an MBA etc).
Most however – add on their competencies and skills over time.
The survey result is in line with what we at Tolpagorni typically think – most PMs do have a background from various engineering and computer science Universities.
What was your main education?
- Engineering 36%
- Computer science 17%
- Other 48%
What kind of 1st job to look for?
What is the best choice for a new graduate looking for a career in product management?
Our little survey doesn’t give a clear result. Or rather – there are many ways leading to Rome.
Having the educational background in mind there is no surprise that many future PMs did find their first position in development. Personally I think this is indeed a very good choice – having some hands-on experience from the development premises is vital for true understanding of the realities of your future project resources. [Also read: Landing your dream job in Product Management]
Which was your first 1st job in the career
- Development 27%
- Sales 17%
- Other 43%
- PM 13%
Interestingly more than one out of ten did in fact start their career directly in product management.
If the team of product managers is experienced and big enough to introduce new colleagues this might be a very good idea. With a long term career perspective however it often pays off to spend early years to really learn how to develop (and/or how to sell).
Career paths leading to product management
Where do Directors of PM look when searching for new employees to his/her team?
From my work supporting product management managers, I know most of them are looking for a mix of people with backgrounds in engineering, sales & marketing etc.
Based on working with various tech companies I know there are quite some differences on preferred background in PMs. Some companies are only hiring technology experts from the internal R&D department whereas others wouldn’t accept a PM without proper field training selling their products. [Find your career path via our ISPMA Certified Product Management Trainings]
Which was your latest job (prior to the current PM position)
- Development 9%
- Sales 11%
- Other 16%
- Product Management 66%
To sum it up, Product management has become a true profession. PMs often go from one job to another – still being product managers. The special skills and experiences from Creating insights, Defining strategies, Plan for features in products, Extracting and communicating values – all are useful for most product offerings!