Learn something new every day More Info... by email
There are many ways to become a product manager, but getting your bachelor's degree is usually a vital part of the process. You should also decide what sort of products you would like to manage. If the products you would like to manage are industrial or technical in nature, you will need a specialized degree in a particular subject. Product managers must also develop excellent communication skills and learn how to adapt to different scenarios and outcomes.
Education requirements for a student who seeks to become a product manager is often a bachelor's degree, but sometimes positions require a Master's in Business Administration (MBA) degree. You should major in whatever subject will give you the most information about your future career field. For instance, if your interest is in the high-tech industry, you should consider majoring in computer science and learning programming in order to truly understand the products. To learn more about product marketing management of retail products, majoring in marketing or fashion management would be ideal.
Some people who seek to become a product manager may choose to continue their education and get an MBA degree from an accredited business school. The MBA can prove invaluable for aspiring product managers because the degree program emphasizes utilizing management techniques in order to bring about a specific outcome. Management education includes both how to manage a team of professionals as well as how to manage a specific product throughout the product development cycle. Another added benefit of obtaining an MBA is that you will become a more viable candidate for product management jobs, command a higher salary, and be given increased responsibilities with respect to product selection and enhancement.
One of the most important aspect of a product manager's job is being able to communicate effectively with customers and product teams. As someone with a goal to become a product manager, you will need to develop clear ways to understand what customers want from your product and how customers use it. It will often be your responsibility to communicate customer needs to a team of sales professionals, computer programmers, and designers.
The final product can deviate from the original plan. As a competent product manager, you will be expected to think quickly and adapt to any outcome that might come about with your product. Learning how to be flexible and how to pivot and change plans after a product outcome will be beneficial throughout a successful product management career.
@irontoenail - That's a good suggestion, however I would also add that it is better to be as non-specific as possible early on as you don't know what you are going to end up wanting to do. Keep an eye out for possible jobs and career opportunities. If you completely focus on, say plastics and then find out there was a better opportunity going for someone who specialized in natural materials, you will kick yourself.
On the other hand you don't want to be so general in your studies that you won't be of any use on the job as a product manager.
I would also suggest working in retail while you are studying. There is no better way to develop people skills and if you manage to work your way up to a position of responsibility there, it will speak well to future employers.
In fact you can study business and science or business and engineering alongside each other at most universities if you want to become a project or product manager and only add a year or two to your total time at university.
An applied science or business degree is particularly useful as they will usually include one or more work placements in the industry that you want to work in.
Not only will this increase your skill level, it will also help you to find a job once you leave university.
I have a couple of friends who pursued this kind of double degree and they are both earning quite a lot now, which is especially good in this economy.
One of our editors will review your suggestion and make changes if warranted. Note that depending on the number of suggestions we receive, this can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Thank you for helping to improve wiseGEEK!