Salary Outlook for Product Manager

Reading Time: 5 minutes
Posted On: March 23, 2018 by Henry R. Steele

If you earn a degree in product management, you will develop the marketing, organizational and promotional skills to grow a product from its early stages of development to where it finally reaches consumers’ hands. These skills are more in demand than ever in the highly competitive global business environment, so earning a degree in product management can be an excellent career booster. With a product management degree, you will enjoy many options in your business career.

The salary that you can earn in product management depends upon the following factors:

  • The level of degree you obtain
  • Where you work geographically
  • How many years of work experience you have
  • Where you went to school
  • The industry in which you work

When you have collected and analyzed this information, you will have a solid idea of the potential salary you can earn with a product management degree.

Level of Degree Needed

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that earning a master’s degree generally will net you a higher salary. In 2013, the median salary for full time workers who were 25 and older with a master’s degree was $68,000, and it was only $56,000 for those with a bachelor’s degree. This is a difference of $12,000 per year. If you imagine earning that much more per year for many years, earning a master’s degree can mean making a lot more money in your career. Depending on your employer, you might consider an Online MBA degree from an accredited non-profit university.

In the product management field, you will find differences in salary according to the level of degree earned. Salary.com reports a web product manager with a bachelor’s degree will earn a salary in the range of $79,000 to $85,000. It also reports the salary for the same position with a master’s degree in close to $90,000.

Glassdoor.com reports the average MBA salary for product managers with an MBA is $108,900. Clearly, earning a master’s degree in product management can result in a higher salary, especially when you add in years of work experience.

BLS reports a wide salary range for marketing and promotions managers, which is related to product managers. The range is between $44,900 and more than $208,000. Much of this difference can be attributed to degree level.

Why Get a Degree in Product Management?

The Wall Street Journal recently reported product management is one of the most desired career tracks for MBA students. Recent data also suggests product managers are some of the highest paid professionals in Silicon Valley. That survey shows that the average technology product manager salary in Silicon Valley is actually higher than for other popular fields:

  • Product management: $133,000
  • Software engineering: $120,000
  • Design: $116,000

Where You Work

Location will affect how much you earn as a product manager, as well. The first thing to keep in mind is cost of living. A product manager will make more in San Francisco than Houston, but the cost of living is much higher. Another way location affects salary is job demand. In cities where there is more demand for good product managers, there will be higher salaries to attract the best candidates.

In the US, the median salary for product managers is approximately $80,000, but salaries are usually higher on the East and West Coasts. But when you consider the cost of living, the areas that offer the best pay, with higher salary and lower cost of living, are in the middle of the US.

Here are some median product manager salaries by city to consider, but remember the cost of living on the East and West Coasts is higher:

  • Palo Alto CA: $108,000
  • San Francisco: $104,000
  • Seattle: $88,700
  • Chicago: $81,500
  • Denver: $76,500
  • Minneapolis: $87,600
  • Boston: $77,600
  • New York: $87,800

Work Experience

No matter the industry you are in, seniority is the major driver of what your salary is. Product management is the same. However, outside of the highest level PM roles in the high tech sector, you do not usually need 10 years of experience to earn a good salary.

See also 50 Best Things I Can Do with a Business Degree

Below are some common product manager roles and the level of experience and salary:

  • Associate product manager: $38,000 to $105,000. The average salary for this junior role is $70,000. This position is the easiest way for a person who just graduated from college to get into product management. Most companies require you to have a bachelor’s degree in business and at least one or two years of work experience.
  • Product manager: $55,000 to $160,000. You should have three to five years work experience as an associate product manager or a related role. Once you become a full product manager, you should see a substantial salary increase. If you have an MBA or an advanced degree in technology, you may be able to skip the associate product manager job.
  • Senior product manager: $100,000 to $160,000. You can become a senior product manager after you have at least five to eight years of experience in product management. The average salary in this job is $130,000 per year.
  • Director of product management: $105,000 to $190,000. Most firms require a director in product management to have over seven years of personnel and product management experience. The average salary in this position is $145,000.
  • VP of product management: $145,000 to $245,000. This is usually a member of the company’s leadership and has a strong product vision for the company. They also are responsible for mentoring and growing the entire product team. Most hiring organizations want to see more than 10 years of experience in product management and also want expertise specific to the industry.

BLS also confirms that experience level makes a difference in salary for product management and related foles. The salary range for advertising, promotions and marketing managers is from $44,900 to $208,000. Most people who earn a salary that high have many years of work experience as well as an advanced degree.

Where You Went to School

Below are some highly regarded MBA and master’s programs in product management. If you attend one of these universities, it is likely you will earn a higher salary in the product management field:

  • NYU Stern: Product management is one of the most popular specializations offered at this prestigious university. You will take courses in brand strategy, consumer behavior, new product development, digital marketing and pricing strategy.
  • Carnegie Mellon University: The New Product Management specialty here focuses on strategies to identify opportunities for the introduction of new services and products into the marketplace. Also, the Management of Innovation and Product Development track will equip you with the marketing skills and understanding of new product innovation.
  • Harvard Business School: Product management at Harvard is part of the Field Immersion Experiences for Leadership Development course. This class teaches you to learn by doing, thinking and reflecting.
  • MIT Sloan: This top program for MBAs has an Enterprise Management track where you can choose product innovation management as the career track. You will learn how to manage a product line effectively and creatively.
  • University of California – Berkeley: This innovative MBA track has a course called Managing the New Product Development Process. It uses a variety of delivery techniques such as student research, case studies, guest speakers and reading to teach you about successful product development.

Industry

The last factor that influences your product management salary is the industry you choose. For example, the average salary for a technical product manager in hardware and software is $112,600, according to Glassdoor.com. For manufacturing, the average salary is $108,000. The product management field is growing quickly as more competition is occurring in the global economy. Companies are competing for scarce consumer dollars, so if you follow the guidelines listed above you should put yourself in a good position to earn a good salary in product management. For health care product manager, the average salary is $83,000, while for pharmaceutical product managers, the average salary is $108,900.

BLS reported the following salary ranges by industry for advertising, promotions and marketing:

  • Advertising and PR: $116,000
  • Management of companies and enterprises: $110,000
  • Wholesale trade: $96,600
  • Information: $93,000
  • Retail trade: $86,500

References

Henry R. Steele
Henry R. Steele
Managing Editor
Henry is Managing Editor of BusinessStudent.com. He is a seasoned business professional who regularly consults with local business's throughout Southern California. Henry pursued his undergrad in Business and Economics at the University of San Diego and gained valuable life changing experience through a unique internship upon graduation.Follow on Twitter.com

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