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Product Manager Vs Project Manager

This article considers the salary, educational requirements, job growth, and daily tasks of both product managers and project managers. You'll learn about the similarities and differences between the two careers to determine which is right for you.

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Comparing Product Managers and Project Managers

Product managers and project managers are equally interested in leading the way for new consumer goods and infrastructures. These careers allow for a great deal of creativity and strategical thinking when it comes to development. There are, however, some distinct differences between the two, as outlined in the table below.

Job Title Education Requirements Median Salary (2017)* Job Growth (2014-2024)**
Product Manager Bachelor's Degree $80,906 9% (for all marketing managers)
Project Manager Bachelor's Degree $71,650 5% (for all construction managers)

Sources: *PayScale.com, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Responsibilities of Product Managers vs. Project Managers

Though it can seem like product managers and project managers are interchangeable because they share similar concerns, they are actually very different careers. Product managers work closely with the creation of the consumer products we use every day, while project managers take a wider view and focus on completing particular projects. For example, overseeing the daily operations of a factory that mass-produces a product would be the job of a product manager, but a project manager could work in the field during the construction of city infrastructure.

Product Manager

As a product is being dreamed-up and made, product managers have a hand in the entire process. Many product managers utilize their experience from industries such as information technology, business and engineering to problem solve and develop products. It is their job to research the demand for a product and see that the production goals meet the demand. Product managers also build budgets and direct expenses towards various elements of the production, including new employees, equipment, and raw building materials. A degree in business management, as well as certification in leadership and strategic marketing will allow for success in this field.

Job responsibilities of a product manager include:

  • Creating performance reports that prove the production is being completed on time and within safety regulations
  • Developing sales strategies based on the needs and desires of consumers
  • Taking the lead on packaging design to align with client's needs
  • Motivating employees and addressing any concerns they may have
  • Reporting setbacks and quality control information to the product director

Project Manager

Project managers' biggest task is creating a plan to get a job done as quickly and cost effectively as possible. By making regular reports to the stakeholders, project managers help clarify the goals and timelines for certain projects. For example, those involved in construction supervise the building of various structures seen around a city, including bridges, monuments, and office buildings. They often work to motivate the building team and must adapt to a new team on each new project.

Job responsibilities of a project manager include:

  • Assigning team members tasks based on their knowledge and skillset
  • Keeping track of resources and making requests for more equipment, employees, or a higher budget
  • Managing delays and issues on the project site to both maintain safety and ensure the timeline is being adhered to
  • Preparing diagrams and other visuals to measure the progress of the project

Related Careers

If you are curious about a career as a product manager, you may also be interested in a job as an advertising and marketing manager, as both of these require deep product and consumer knowledge. If a career in project management speaks to you, you may try looking into a job as a civil engineer, because both utilize an understanding of city infrastructure and design.

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  • Civil Engineers
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