As project-based business practices give way to product-focused cross-functional teams, the product manager role is taking on prominence, increasingly attracting interest from job candidates who might otherwise go into IT. A product manager coordinates technical, marketing, and business functions, taking ownership over a specific product or service over the course of its lifecycle.
It’s an important and challenging career, but for most job seekers, compensation is a key factor when making choices of what to pursue — especially for those whose technical skills open up other lucrative career paths to take. We dove into publicly available information and talked to a number of product managers and those who hire, supervise, and mentor them in order to get a sense of what you can expect in this job market — and how you can improve your prospects and your compensation if you’re working in this field.
Do product managers make good money?
Glassdoor is a great starting point for researching salaries; while the data is mostly self-reported, it does provide an good first approximation of what you can expect. As of this writing, Glassdoor’s estimate of the average salary for a product manager is $127,496 per year, with a reported salary range of $76,000 to $216,000, depending on location, seniority, and experience. As you grow in your career, so will your salary. Senior product managers earn an average salary of $188,001 per year, while principal product managers earn an average salary of $223,534 per year.
When it comes to top tech companies, Glassdoor reports a similar range, as you can see in the table below.
|Company||Reported salary range||Average salary|
|Cisco||$82,000 – $211,000||$163,223|
|$41,000 – $290,000||$157,786|
|Microsoft||$50,000 – $231,000||$126,068|
|Amazon||$42,000 – $256,000||$123,502|
|IBM||$69,000 – $241,000||$131,725|
|Oracle||$65,000 – $203,000||$118,400|
|Yahoo||$110,000 – $206,000||$146,029|
|eBay||$81,000 – $210,000||$126,082|
|Intuit||$118,000 – $154,000||$135,478|
|$101,000 – $288,000||$194,959|
|Adobe||$89,000 – $205,000||$140,277|
Factors that affect product manager salaries
The experts we talked to in the field came in with figures that weren’t too dissimilar from these, with nuances. Stephanie White, director and head of product, technology, and professional at fintech recruiting company EC1, says that salaries for high-level product management professionals roughly match their tech peers. “Chief product officers are now rewarded on par with CTOs, and likewise, a lead product manager should earn similar to a lead engineer,” she says.
Trisha Price, CPO at software development company Pendo, had a similar take. “Base salary ranges for product managers are typically on par with other technology roles like engineering, security, and design,” she says. “Here at Pendo, the ranges are competitive for our size and industry, and are one part of a compensation package that includes benefits, equity (RSUs), and other rewards.”
Cait Porte, who is chief marketing officer at software development company Digibee and has a background in product management, says that “you’re definitely looking at a six-figures starting salary as a product manager,” but emphasizes that “there are different levels: junior or associate, product manager, senior product manager, director of product management. If you look at the growth in all of those roles, typically the thing that is changing is the scope that they manage.” That can make a big difference in your paycheck.
Holly Hester-Reilly, founder and CEO of H2R Product Science, a product management coaching and consulting firm, is seeing similar numbers in her practice. “I’ve seen product manager salaries range from $100,000 to $250,000, so there’s a wide range depending on skill level, company size and stage, and location. Product leader salaries at top companies can go even higher,” she says.
Shane Quinlan, director of product management at software development firm Kion, says, “Product manager salaries are all over the place. You can look at accounts like Socially Inept Tech Roast for a sampling of memes about $450,000 total comp for Meta PMs who do nothing. In my experience, product managers aren’t making that outside the huge tech companies, and even then we’re talking about more senior folks.”
He too emphasizes that there’s no one-size-fits-all number to expect. “I’ve seen product manager, senior product manager, and/or director of product positions between $80,000 and $220,000. That’s a huge range. Depending on the stage and size of the company you join, you’ll see differences in the admixture between salary, bonuses, equity, and other benefits.”
Overall, Quinlan warns against treating job titles as apples-to-apples comparisons across companies. “There is no universal standard for the responsibilities or compensation for a PM vs. director vs. VP vs. head of product vs. CPO,” he says. “Some companies may only have one PM who acts as the CPO and is well compensated. Some companies have an army of directors of product who perform the role of a PM and get the comp of an associate product manager. PMs (or wannabe PMs) should also be looking at technical program manager and chief of staff roles.”
Mona Ghadiri, director of product management at cybersecurity firm BlueVoyant, says that some of the range of pay simply comes down to what individual companies value. “The company culture plays a role: Some companies prioritize being a product-led organization, while other enterprises see the role of product as more like taking orders from the front of house back to the kitchen,” she says.
How product managers can increase their salaries
Let’s say you’re interested in moving into the field as a product manager. What are the best ways to end up at the top end of the salary ranges we’ve been discussing? Tal Laufer, VP of products at cybersecurity firm Perimeter 81, says that “technical background is highly awarded — the closer you are to the technology, your salary is going to rise.”
EC1 Partners’ White goes further, saying that any domain-specific knowledge is a plus if it applies to the field in which you’re looking to be hired. “The more expert they are in the product domain commercially (e.g., with fixed income trading software, coming either from a competitor, or having worked as a fixed income trader themselves), as well as technologically (e.g., awareness of coding), the higher compensation package they can command,” she says.
That said, product management is itself a skill, and one that also has value in the market, says Seth Dobbs, CTO at IT services and consulting firm Bounteous. “Someone who can truly fulfill the multiskill requirements and navigate the complex scope discussion successfully is very valuable,” he says.
Digibee’s Porte agrees. “If you hire someone who has repeatedly created good product management processes across industries, you may pay a higher price for that person versus someone who knows healthcare billing or IT apps really well,” she says. “The most difficult part is determining what specifically am I hiring you for. If it’s an industry expert, I expect that you will know the space, or the role of product management, and those skills are transferable to another industry. The slam dunk is someone who has both.”
If you’re already a product manager, how do you bag yourself a raise? If you’re going to your boss looking for a salary bump, you need to learn to toot your own horn — strategically and accurately, of course, says EC1 Partners’ White.
“The main thing is to demonstrate why you feel you deserve it,” she says. “Use examples of products which you have rolled out, projects you have completed, where you have saved costs or time and made processes more efficient, where you have gotten client buy-in to a product offering, where you have worked collaboratively in a team, etc. If you give firm (positive) examples of how you are adding value, it gives a company more reason to give this to you.”
BlueVoyant’s Ghadiri agrees. “My best advice for negotiating a salary raise as a PM is to take stock and keep receipts for your accomplishments,” she says. “Big wins like a brand-new product can go far. In addition, being willing to go to bat for an idea you believe in shows commitment.”
Kion’s Quinlan adds that training and certification can help as well, although he doesn’t advocate sinking too many resources into it. “Get (cheap) PM certs, and get your current employer to pay for the expensive ones,” he says. “Doing one-day certs as part of conferences is a good way to build your repertoire and network. Otherwise, LinkedIn Learning is pretty great.”
But several experts we talked to noted that product management is no different from most career tracks in that the easiest way to get a big salary boost may be to look for a job with someone other than your current employer. “In my experience, the easiest time to negotiate a salary is on the way into a new job,” says Dan Ciruli, VP of product management at software services provider D2iQ. “Getting a good salary to start with sets you off on the right foot and has positive effects on the rest of your time employed with the company. My advice is to always negotiate when starting a new job.”
Kion’s Quinlan agrees. “Unfortunately, job-hopping is often the key to moving up in salary and titles. It doesn’t have to be that way, but in many cases it is.” As a result, he advises that you should always be making yourself attractive to the whatever higher paying opportunity that may come along: “Update your LinkedIn. Build a website. Start on Squarespace. Don’t use your college email address or something unprofessional; have a grown-up email. Have a two-page resume that doesn’t get too wacky. Look at examples. Don’t have typos.”
That’s great advice for anyone in any line of work, it turns out, but we hope it helps you in your product management journey.