Earning a master's degree unquestionably involves hard work requiring considerable time, energy, and money. It can be challenging and sometimes overwhelming.
People power through nonetheless. Why? Because holding a master's degree in your field confirms the knowledge and expertise necessary to succeed. It also helps bolster your case when discussing raises and promotions: professionals with master's degrees typically earn more throughout their careers than their peers who only hold BAs.
Not everyone has it in them to go the master's route, nor does every desirable job require master's-level training. For these people, there is another route to elevating yourself within a field and standing out to employers: the graduate certificate. It signifies to employers that you have acquired a particular skillset and specialized knowledge in your field. It can also help you to meet eligibility requirements for a particular role. Even professionals with master's degrees and years of experience under their belts earn certificates to enhance their proficiency in specialized areas and advance their careers.
Professional certificates can be especially beneficial in a field as competitive as product management, in which your ability to keep many balls in the air at the same time determines your success. Product management certification signals to employers that you have put in the time and effort to understand and master such fundamental product management factors as:
In this article, we highlight some available certifications for product managers who want to jumpstart or further their product management career. We cover:
- Do I need a Master of Science in Information Management to be a product manager?
- Master of Science in Information Management vs. product management certificates
- Top Master of Science in Information Management programs
Certifications for product managers
Top product management certification programs include:
- Agile Certified Product Manager Credentials (CPM) by AIPMM:__ This internationally acclaimed online course prepares PMs to create product roadmaps from development to product marketing and everything in between. It includes detailed instruction on functioning as a product owner, the role most responsible for representing the consumer in the production process through the collection and analysis of user research to determine customer needs.
- One Week PM by Product Manager HQ:__ This seven-day training is tremendously popular with beginner product managers. Not only does it teach the ABCs of product management but it also helps participants gauge their progress through such measures as performance usability tests and working with prototypes. Additionally, it includes instruction in marketing and tech, and offers mentorship programs, unlimited access to the course and networking opportunities, and product manager interview preparation.
- Technical Product Manager Certification:__ This is another seven-day course, this one focused on technical product management. You don't need any prior experience in tech to participate. With a choice of 140+ courses, you will learn about technical product management as well as software development, prototyping, data security, and product analytics. You can also test your new abilities through your own TPM project and access templates based on real-world TPM jobs and case studies.
- The Pragmatic Institute:__ This organization uses "product practice" to school participants in the best way to guide the right products to the market. You'll learn such product management skills as how to make your product roadmaps stand out, how to best collaborate with designers to make your product innovative, how to implement strategic alignment to keep development and production in sync, and how to create the best possible product launch.
- Product Development and Management Association:__ This international non-profit (taught by seasoned academics and professionals from around the world) is accessible to both product management beginners and professionals. With its focus on "education, experience, expertise," a PDMA certification course should impress employers with your qualifications to lead product teams and bring a successful product to market.
- Product Management Certification by Product School:__ Another good program for beginners, specifically those looking to enter software product management. The course provides guidance on the skills you need to determine exactly where and with which companies you should look for jobs. Successful technical product managers instruct you in the skills necessary to develop, produce, and market top-line software products.
- Product Management Program by Berkeley Executive Education:__ This five-day program covers the basics of product management with an emphasis on gathering information on external stakeholders (UX, customer surveys, etc.). The goal: to shape the product lifecycle to ensure that your product can respond to current market needs as thoroughly as possible, assuring a great product. You'll also learn to assemble the most effective product teams and communicate with all relevant stakeholders inside and outside the organization.
- Product Strategy by Northwestern - Kellogg School of Management:__ This program is uniquely geared towards advanced product management professionals with a focus on product strategy. Training covers product analysis, prototyping, machine-learning, and customer data to design your new product roadmap incorporating the most current trends in product marketing, pricing, sales, and brand management.
- Professional Scrum Foundations Training by Scrum.org:__ A two-day immersion in the philosophy of Scrum, a well-established agile framework that encourages various production teams to collaborate as closely and as efficiently as possible. As a project management approach, Scrum emphasizes speed in innovation, development, and reaction to problems and customer feedback. Yet it also demands attention to detail, with teams examining every aspect of the product's lifecycle to spot problems and eliminate them, reducing waste and maximizing resources.
Do I need a Master of Science in Information Management to be a product manager?
Job search website Zippia estimates that almost one-fifth of product managers have a master's degree. While it's not a requirement to hold a master's to be a product manager, a degree like a Master of Science in Information Management (MSIM) equips you with the knowledge and proficiency needed to excel in this field.
A Master of Science in Information Management program trains you to:
- Foster interdepartmental cooperation through systems and design thinking that creates a singular focus on common goals
- Utilize problem-solving to deal with any obstacles that arise and change management to teach staff how to deal with any new initiatives or necessary adjustments in protocol
- Apply standard industrial practices to form production plans that will take a product from the concept stage to the market stage, including promotion and user experience
- Guide individual product management teams through their disparate tasks while maintaining an overall sense of shared purpose and achievement
According to the University of Washington, a Master of Science in Information Management provides an interdisciplinary approach to the study of information management for students who intend to become experts in this field. MSIM students learn to utilize information to set organizational strategies and improve productivity and help others make better sense of the information they encounter and use at work and in their lives.
Master of Science in Information Management vs. product management certificates
When deciding between a master's degree versus a graduate certificate, consider both the time and expense involved. MSIM programs take up to two years to complete, while there are certification programs that only last two weeks (the breadth and depth of what you learn in an MSIM program is significantly greater, of course). Of course, you will pay a great deal more in tuition to pursue an MSIM than you do for a project management certificate. Admission standards to certificate programs tend to be less rigorous than for graduate degree programs, which typically require transcripts, letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and perhaps standardized test scores.
You should also consider the level at which you are attempting to enter a particular industry. Graduate certificates can be very useful in securing entry-level positions, but if you're seeking an upper management role, you might want to consider earning an MSIM. Note that graduate certificates can be significant stepping stones towards getting a graduate degree, as they may fulfill certain prerequisites for a graduate program.
Top Master of Science in Information Management programs
You can find excellent MSIM programs across the country, many of which offer online, in-person, and hybrid product management courses. Top-rated programs include:
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