How to Become a Marketing Product Manager

Learn how to become a marketing product manager. Research the job duties and explore the step-by-step process to start a career in marketing product management. View article »

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Should I Become a Marketing Product Manager?

Degree Level Bachelor's degree; master's degree in business or equivalent work experience preferred
Degree Field Marketing, business, or related technical degree
Certification Voluntary but desirable
Experience 3-10 years of experience in the field
Key Skills Relationship-building, team-building, project management, and communication skills; independent worker and detail-oriented; knowledge of Microsoft Office Suite; entrepreneurial expertise and online marketing experience
Salary $113,610 (2015 average)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Monster.com and Careerbuilder.com Job postings (August 2012)

A Marketing product manager typically lead teams of public relations and marketing experts. These professionals develop ideas, techniques, and campaigns used to promote a company's products to a specific audience. Marketing product management tasks also include developing pricing strategies, evaluating customer satisfaction, conducting market research, and analyzing market trends.

Since marketing product managers lead teams whose work directly affects a company's profits, they may experience a fair amount of stress. They also might have to travel regularly to meet with clients. However, these professionals have relatively high earning potential. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that marketing managers earned an average salary of $113,610 as of May 2015.

Now let's explore how to enter a career in marketing product management.

Step 1: Earn an Undergraduate Degree

Prospective marketing product managers often start their education by earning a bachelor's degree in marketing or business administration with an emphasis in marketing. These degree programs are found at many 4-year colleges and universities and typically include coursework in economics, organizational management, and finance.

You may also find it beneficial to take courses in consumer marketing and promotions. Classes in consumer marketing and behavior, business-to-business marketing, and marketing research teach market research skills necessary for success as a marketing product manager. Consumer marketing skills include monitoring trends, pricing strategy development, sales forecasting, strategic business planning, and return-on-investment projections. Promotional skills, like projecting demand for products, customer needs assessment, trade show participation, advertising strategies, and market characteristics, are also helpful.

Success Tip:

Complete an internship program. Many universities and colleges offer internship opportunities as part of a bachelor's degree program in marketing. The school may cooperate with local companies to help students gain experience in product research and marketing through independent study and on-the-job training.

Step 2: Gain Work Experience

After earning a degree, it's time to gain experience. Entry-level positions in marketing departments are often available as a starting point for graduates, and available positions may include marketing specialist, product development coordinator, and marketing assistant. Further education and training in market research, sales, and consumer behavior, along with several years of experience, may result in promotion to mid-level positions in product marketing. Generally, marketing professionals may be qualified for promotion to management after gaining three to ten years of experience.

Step 3: Become Certified

Certification can display knowledge in research, analysis, and evaluation of marketing trends and data and demonstrates that you know how to use the results in successful marketing opportunities. The Association of International Product Marketing and Management (AIPMM) is a professional group which offers the Certified Product Marketing Manager (CPMM) designation to marketing professionals. Candidates for certification are typically mid-level employees engaged in product marketing or product management roles. While there are no specific prerequisites for taking the certification courses and exam, the AIPMM recommends an MBA or three years of experience for those pursuing this voluntary certification.

Before sitting for the certification test, make sure you learn the topics on the certification exam. The exam covers product representation, marketing communication, and pricing actions used by professionals with their customers. The AIPMM offers webinars on its website, and a free study plan and glossary are available through e-mail request. A self-study toolkit is also offered for a fee.

Step 4: Obtain a Master's Degree

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employers may give preference to candidates with a Master of Business Administration (MBA) or a similar degree when hiring for marketing management positions. A master's degree, along with several years of experience and demonstrated abilities in product marketing, may accelerate career advancement.

Step 5: Stay Connected

Attending industry events and networking with professionals may lead to new career options. The AIPMM website regularly posts articles and information regarding industry topics and upcoming events. In addition, various paid membership packages offer access to exclusive resources, discounts, and private AIPMM networking sites.

A career as a marketing product manager requires at least a bachelor's degree related to business or marketing; three to ten years of experience in the field; and skills in team-building, project management, and communication.

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