Working in a technical field is promising because of the development of technology. And if you work as a manager, your career will be brighter.
So how to become a technical product manager? Well, I’m taking this role, and I can tell that your journey won’t be easy.
But don’t fret! You need to work a lot, and it will be rewarding! Let me tell you about my own journey and share interesting stories about my job.
Developing technical products like websites and apps is a complicated process. It also involves many professionals, like designers, writers, and engineers.
They work together to ensure the best result. They also need a leader to guide this process, and the leader here is the technical product manager.
A technical product manager is responsible for technical product development. They ensure that the product can fulfill the specified requirements.
The technical product manager uses their expertise to plan the technical aspects of the product first. They then also learn customer needs and find the best way to incorporate them into the product’s features.
I’m a technical product manager. So let me tell you a little bit about my typical day. By checking my daily tasks, you will know exactly what this job is like.
- Conduct market research: First, I must learn the product’s features. Thus, I conduct market research and focus on internal sources when assessing market conditions.
- Roadmap: Then, I move to the planning stage of the project. As a manager, I plan carefully so my team can expect challenges and streamline transitions. A detailed plan can help us work effectively at every stage.
- Develop strategies: The plan is now ready, but the product also needs a good strategy and vision. So, I hold meetings with my teammates to brainstorm ideas for it. Often, we analyze competing products and customer bases. The projected profit also affects our strategy.
- Manage risks: Every project has risks. I often encounter production delays and budget constraints. They may arise at any time. Hence, as a technical product manager, I must prepare plans for them.
Most technical product managers work for big companies. They collaborate with different teams, such as development, selling, production, and marketing.
I have studied hard for years to become a technical product manager. So if you aim for the same goal, expect many things to do.
I will help you by sharing my journey now. There are eight steps in total. You don’t have to stick to my guidelines strictly. But at least ensure you meet all the requirements for this job.
Study first! You need to grasp the fundamentals of product management. There are three ways to do it:
- MBA program: You can get an MBA program. Aspiring managers often get an undergraduate degree and then attend this program.
- Specialized training: This type of training focuses on project management, too. You can also learn the best practices to apply in your future job.
- On-the-job training: Some people try a junior technical product management role first. After gaining experience, they can get promoted.
All three options will help you dig into this field. While studying, you can picture how you will execute a project. More specifically, you can tell what your company needs to do when developing a technical product.
You must be curious about your learning path. So, to motivate you for the challenges ahead, I will talk about several stages in product development:
- Ideation: Of course, you need an idea for your product first. This stage is about learning the target market, existing products, and SWOT analysis.
- Product definition: Now you know what the market wants from your future product. So, it’s time to define the product.
- Prototyping: After definition, you must create a detailed product plan. It can be as simple as drawing an initial design.
- Design: The stakeholders must be excited to see your progress. That’s where designers come into play.
- Validation and testing: As a technical product manager, you must ensure every product component works effectively.
- Commercialization: Once you are confident in the product design, launch and implement it on your company’s website.
Each stage above is handled by different members of your team. And you, as the manager, have to take part in every step.
The stages I mentioned sound simple. However, the real world is much more complex. I highly recommend taking some certification courses. Then, you will be proficient in technical product management.
The Scrum Alliance offers this certification to promote the use of the Scrum framework in technical product development.
I didn’t notice this course before. But since my company is adopting Scrum, I tried it and regret not taking it sooner.
One of the best things about Scrum is that it helps my team complete each project deliverable efficiently. It encourages the effective use of money and time.
This course only takes two days. But within such a short time, you can learn many topics like agile principles and backlog management. All of these concepts will help you manage your project.
I really liked CSPO, so I found another certification from Scrum Alliance. And I saw CAPM.
This program requires at least 21 training hours. I did it in one month because I didn’t have much time. Even so, I learned a lot from this course, especially about agile product development.
I took online classes. But you can choose the instructor-led lessons. Then, you can interact directly with your instructor.
I love this certification, too. It focuses on developing essential skills for a technical product manager like me.
There are four levels in the program. To get the certification, you have to pass the final test that covers all the levels.
All the certifications will be valuable for your job application. Yet, they are not enough. To become an excellent technical product manager, you must have experience. Both formal and informal occasions can help.
When you work in a position related directly to product management, you will have formal experience. There are many paths to consider here.
For example, you can try jobs in marketing. It’s one of the final stages of product management. And when working as a marketer, you will learn about the product and how your colleagues make it.
Data analysis is another good choice. Almost every technical product has databases. So, when handling the data, you can cover the important part of product management.
You don’t have to work in your desired field to gain experience. Instead, volunteer work or school clubs are also ideal places to hone your skills. That’s how you get informal experience.
I joined a club when studying at my university. I even became the president of the club. This precious chance allowed me to develop my leadership and problem-solving skills. Luckily, all of them helped me a lot when working as a technical product manager.
One of the benefits of working in this role is the high demand. Many businesses from different industries want to develop high-quality tech products. Thus, they seek talented managers to ensure the best outcome.
In other words, to become a technical product manager, you can choose which industry to work for. And the truth is, you will have tons of choices.
For example, in healthcare, businesses want to make health apps to improve patients’ and doctors’ experience. To make it possible, the developers have to work with medical data.
So, it would be best to study different industries that require technical product management. Then, you can understand the problems that the companies in each industry encounter. And as a promising manager, you can suggest the right solution.
It’s good for your job interview, too. Your potential employers want to know how much you care about their niche. So, it’s time to show your dedication.
You have to send a resume to your potential employers. However, one to two pages of the resume can’t reflect all that you have. That’s why I suggest building a portfolio.
The portfolio is where you collect your previous work. It will also highlight your skills and experience. How can you build a good portfolio? I have some tips here:
- You may have a lot of work to show off, right? But do not add all of them to your portfolio. Instead, just use the appropriate examples for your job.
- Texts may be boring. Hence, add visual aids to make your portfolio easier to read. Use images, too, if possible.
- Finally, an extensive portfolio doesn’t always work. Your employers have many other candidates to check. Thus, make your portfolio short and simple.
Don’t forget to improve your skills. It’s what you always have to do, even when you’ve got the job.
To a technical product manager, both technical and soft skills are essential. Here is what you should focus on:
- Research: Remember the first stage of a product management process? Yes, it’s research. Once you have good research skills, you can help your team have a good start when developing the product.
- Prototyping: A good prototype can satisfy your stakeholders. So practice this skill, too.
- Testing: Every component in your product requires testing. And as a manager, you are the one that has to test the most.
- Coding: You can ask the software developer or engineer in your team to code. Yet, it would be best to be familiar with coding. Then, you can work with your teammates smoothly.
- Marketing: You also need to position your product in an optical marketplace. Branding is vital, too.
- Communication: You have to interact with many people, including your teammates, clients, and stakeholders. Thus, good communication skills are a must.
- Attention to detail: Technical products are complicated. You must pay attention to every detail to ensure a proper product launch and good customer feedback.
- Leadership: You have a team to lead. It’s not just about giving them tasks and checking their performance. Instead, you need to inspire them and respect their opinions.
You need time to become a manager. So before that, work in an entry-level position. For example, you can be part of the product development team first. Then, you can contribute to the process. Try to learn from your manager, too.
Once you’ve earned enough experience, you can move to higher positions, like the technical product manager.
Before becoming a manager, I worked as a software engineer. Then, with my hard work, I climbed my career ladder. And I have been a technical product manager for three years.
You can consider my path. Otherwise, apply for a similar role in another company. As long as you are confident about your skills, you can shine.
These two similar jobs confuse many people. Yet, they are different in these factors:
- Professional focus: A technical product manager focuses on the technical aspects of a product. For example, they care about the technology used to develop a product. Meanwhile, a regular product manager prioritizes the needs of their customers.
- Collaborators: A technical product manager works more with technical teams. On the contrary, a regular product manager collaborates with non-tech professionals, like the marketing and sales teams.
According to ComputerCareers, technical product managers can earn about $172,226 annually. You can make more or less depending on your skills and experience.
A good technical product manager should have a strong technical background. They also need good communication and leadership skills.
Most have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in a related major, such as computer engineering, computer science, or business.
You can work in entry-level positions first. They help you earn experience and improve essential skills.
Yes. This role requires a diverse skill set and experience. Aside from non-tech skills like communication and leadership, your tech knowledge also helps with the product’s success.
You can become a technical product manager with suitable skills and a solid technical background. And experience is essential. So, try to work in entry-level positions. Once you feel that you can take this role well, apply for your dream.
Every journey to success has challenges. Are you ready for the obstacles ahead? Just believe in yourself and go forth! Success will come.