A product management certification is a structured, effective way to learn essential product management skills and kick-start your career in the field.
But, before you consider a product management certification for yourself, you’ll want to make sure that it’s worthwhile in relation to your goals.
In this post, we’ll help you figure that out—and we’ll lay out a clear plan for picking the right product management certification for you. We’ll also answer some of the most frequently asked questions that come up around the topic, including:
- Do you need a product management certification to become a product manager?
- What are the requirements for getting a product management certification?
- What skills will you learn with a product management certification?
- Is a product management certification worth it?
- How to get a product management certification (5 steps)
- What are the best product management certifications in 2023?
Ready to learn everything there is to know about getting a product management certification? Let’s begin.
1. Do you need a product management certification to become a product manager?
First things first: What qualifications do you need to become a product manager? And is a product management certification strictly necessary?
There isn’t one specific qualification that employers look for when hiring product managers. If you’re familiar with what a product manager does, you’ll know that it’s a varied role which spans multiple disciplines and areas of responsibility—including business, strategy, user and market research, analytics, UX, engineering, marketing, and leadership.
It’s difficult to cover all of these aspects in a single qualification (especially if you’re looking at traditional college degrees). So, usually, product managers will be expected to have a qualification (or professional experience) in just one of those areas, coupled with a deep understanding of the product management process, a variety of technical and soft skills (we’ve written about the most important product manager skills in this guide), as well as mastery of popular product management tools.
If you have all of those things, you can feasibly land a product manager job without completing a product management certification.
However, if you’re starting from scratch or only tick a few of those boxes (for example, you have a qualification in business administration but are unfamiliar with the product management process), a product management certification is an excellent way to level up your skillset and prepare for a career in the field.
A top quality product management certification will equip you with everything you need to get your foot in the door—regardless of your previous experience or existing qualifications.
You don’t necessarily need a product management certification if you’re already ticking lots of boxes for landing a job in the field. But, if you’re starting from scratch and/or need an all-encompassing qualification that will prepare you for a product manager role, a product management certification is an effective (and recognized) route into the industry.
2. What are the requirements for getting a product management certification?
Product management certifications come in all shapes and sizes. Some are made for complete beginners looking to land their first job in the field, while others are designed for product managers who want to upskill and get promoted to a more senior role.
Most beginner-level certifications don’t have any requirements or prerequisites—just an interest in the field and a willingness to dedicate time and effort to the program. Some providers might ask you to go through a formal application process, but there typically aren’t any requirements in terms of existing skills and qualifications.
If you’re already a product manager and want to take a more advanced certification, you’ll usually need to demonstrate experience in the field and thorough knowledge of product management fundamentals.
There are no universal requirements for getting a product management certification.
Plenty of providers welcome complete beginners with no prior experience, while product managers looking to upskill with an advanced certification will need an existing knowledge base to build upon. Ultimately, requirements vary depending on your chosen product management school or provider.
3. What skills can you expect to learn with a product management certification?
The exact curriculum and course material will vary from one product management certification to the next. Generally, a good product management certification will cover the following topics:
- The product life cycle
- The product management process:
- Conducting user and market/competitor research
- Gathering and managing ideas
- Writing product specifications
- Defining a product vision/strategy
- Building a product roadmap
- Product prototyping
- Product launch strategies
- Running tests and analytics
- Gathering user feedback
- Industry-standard product management tools
- The importance of stakeholder collaboration and storytelling
- Some form of project work or practical application
A worthwhile product management course should leave you with a thorough understanding of the product management process, as well as the practical skills to execute it yourself.
For a taster of what it’s like to study product management, try this free introductory product management short course.
4. Is a product management certification worth it?
In a word, yes! A product management certification from a reputable provider will add value to your skillset and your PM resume in several ways—and ultimately boost your career prospects.
So, is a product management certification worth it? Yes, if you want:
- A structured approach to learning the fundamental concepts, tools, skills, and methodologies of product management
- Formal, recognizable proof that you’re dedicated to professional development and passionate about the field
- A qualification to set you apart from other aspiring product managers
- A first step into an in-demand, well-paid profession (you can discover how much product managers typically earn in our salary guide)
Ultimately, whether or not a product management certification is worth it for you depends on your existing skills and experience, as well as your goals. But, if you’re keen to start a career in product management and want tangible proof of your newfound skills and expertise, a certification will give you a great head start.
5. How to get a product management certification (5 steps)
So far, we’ve looked at what you can expect to learn from a product management certification, whether or not it’s a worthwhile endeavor, and what requirements you might need to fulfill.
Now let’s consider the practicalities of how to get a product management certification.
1) Consider your goals
There are different product management certifications out there to suit different needs and goals.
Before you sign up, be clear on what you want to achieve. Do you already have extensive product management experience and want a certification to validate your skills? Or are you starting from scratch with the goal of landing your first job in the field?
Knowing your end goal will guide you in choosing the right product management certification. Ultimately, be clear on what you want to learn and achieve, and opt for a program that delivers exactly that.
2) Define your product management certification wishlist
You’ve established your goals in terms of what you want to gain through completing a product management certification. Now, in addition to the curriculum itself, consider what other boxes you need your certification course to tick (and prioritize them).
For example, if you’re brand new to product management, it might be important for you to do a certification that offers mentorship.
If you’re planning to invest a large sum of money with the aim of getting a job in the field, you might want to prioritize certifications that help with the job search process and cover you with a job guarantee (where you get your money back if you don’t get hired after a certain period of time).
Identify between one and three important factors to prioritize. This will help you narrow down your search for the best product management certification.
3) Factor in your budget, preferred learning style, and how much time you have available
To successfully obtain your product management certification (and in a way that’s enjoyable and rewarding), it’s important to pick a course that works for you. This means factoring in things such as budget, how and when you want to study, and how much time you have available.
Think about how much you can and want to spend on a certification, as well as whether you want to attend an intensive course or spread your learning out over several months. At the same time, consider whether you want to attend live classes at set times (be it virtually or in person) or if you want to learn on-demand at your own pace.
Factoring these things in will enable you to pick the most suitable learning format and thus ensure you’re set up for success.
4) Do your research and read reviews
With a clear idea of what you’re searching for, there’s only one thing left to do: take to Google and do your research!
Check sites like Course Report, Career Karma, and SwitchUp for comparisons and reviews of different tech schools and bootcamps to gauge which ones are reputable and worth considering in light of your goals.
Once you’ve narrowed it down to a handful, take a closer look at those on your shortlist—including any graduate outcome reports or alumni success stories they’ve published. From there, set up a call with the school(s) directly to discuss the program in detail and determine if it’s the right choice for you.
You don’t want to jump into a product management certification lightly. With so many options out there, it’s important to take time and care doing your research before making a final decision.
5) Make the most of your product management certification
Once you’ve signed up for a course, you’re well on your way to getting your product management certification. But don’t stop there. Be sure to make the most of your certification and your learning experience in general.
You can enrich your course curriculum by doing your own reading and research around the topics covered, and generally by immersing yourself in product management through blogs and podcasts.
At the same time, start to think about your product management network and how you can make connections in the industry. Are there any live or virtual meetups you could attend, or online communities you can join? Maybe there’s a product manager at your current job who you can catch up with to learn more about the field.
All of these additional steps will set you in good stead for starting (or advancing) your career in product management once you’ve obtained your certification.
Before signing up for a product management certification, be clear on the goals you want to achieve and the elements you want to prioritize (such as mentorship, project work, a job guarantee, or something else entirely).
At the same time, think about the time and budget you can realistically dedicate to the course. Once you’re in the process of getting your product management certification, throw yourself in and make the most of it for a truly rewarding experience.
6. What are the best product management certifications in 2023?
Last but not least: What are the best product management certifications worth considering?
Here are some of our top picks to kick-start your research:
1) The Product Manager Certification (The Product School)
This is an online course with live, instructor-led lessons. It can be completed on a part-time basis over 8 weeks, or on a full-time basis over 5 days.
It costs $4,499, with financing or installment options available. The Product School certification is geared towards beginners who have never worked in product management but want to land a job in the field.
2) Product Management Program (CareerFoundry)
CareerFoundry’s offering is a fully mentored product management program that comes with a certificate from one of the leading tech career-change schools out there. Fully online, it comes with the option of completing it in 3 months at 30-40 hrs/week, or studying flexibly, up to 6 months at 15-20 hrs/week.
The overall cost is $6,900, but the cost of the tuition is dependent on your location and is competitively priced. The CareerFoundry Product Management Program is aimed at beginners looking to emerge a job-ready product manager with a support system along the way.
3) Product Management Certification Course (BrainStation)
The Product Management Certification offered by BrainStation is a part-time course with an online live classroom learning format.
The course takes place over five Saturdays from 10.30am-5.30pm EDT, and it costs $2,900. It’s designed to help you become a product manager, leaving you with a product management certification and an interview-ready PM portfolio project.
4) Product Manager Certification Course (Product Manager HQ)
Product Manager HQ offers an online certification program that promises to help set you on your journey to becoming a top product manager.
It’s a self-paced course requiring about 3 hours of study per week to complete the course in one month, with the curriculum made up of video lessons, assignments, and quizzes. It’s ideal for those who don’t have a formal background in product management and are starting from scratch. The Product Manager HQ certification costs $350.
That’s just a small selection of some of the best product management certifications available. As per our guide: define your personal goals and criteria and conduct thorough research before settling on a course.
Whether you go for a short, foundational course or a more intensive program, a product management certification is a great way to learn the fundamentals, get your first taste of the field, and kick-start your product management career.
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