What defines a good product manager? Anyone who’s worked in tech for any length of time knows that the industry changes rapidly, and the platforms that dominated a market one year may slide toward obsolescence the next. In light of that, product managers must be flexible in terms of process and knowledgeable with regard to the market. It’s a big job; so what’s an “average” product manager salary?
Short answer: $118,710. And moreover, the number has remained largely unchanged over the past two years, suggesting stable demand for the position.
In what should come as a shock to exactly nobody, the cities that pay out the most to product managers include New York, NY (average: $132,545), San Francisco ($125,298) and Los Angeles ($122,339). Those first two cities have a burgeoning tech scene, with a healthy mix of startups and well-established giants; although considered a “minor” tech hub by comparison, Los Angeles is nonetheless a major city with its own technology ecosystem.
Because they must communicate needs and requirements from upper-level management to the developers and other tech professionals who will build the actual product, product managers must demonstrate considerable “soft skills.” That ability to empathize and communicate is perhaps why so many product managers have eventually ascended to the top ranks of companies; for example, Google CEO Sundar Pichai oversaw the development of several core company products, including Gmail and Chrome OS.
A good product manager also listens to the product’s eventual audience, gathering requirements and potential pain points. This intersection of management, developers and designers, and audience is a busy and sometimes challenging one, and it’s not a role suited for everyone.
Product managers who succeed during the building process often have a solid grasp of Agile methodology. Take a look at this article about how you can improve an Agile skillset, including the development of “t-shaped” skills, which are complementary competencies that allow a product manager to evaluate several development areas at once (i.e., UX and coding). With the right mix of skills and experience, a product manager salary will only rise.