Continuing education plays a crucial role in long-term career success in just about any profession. Product management is certainly no exception. Product managers and leaders need to find ways to keep learning and growing in an ever-evolving product environment. The good news is that you don’t have to look very far to uncover an enriching learning opportunity. There’s an abundance of books, podcasts, and events at your disposal that cover various product management topics. Learning on the job or via a professional mentorship offers the chance to grow and gain valuable experience. Books, podcasts, conferences, and in-house mentorships are all great channels for building your product management knowledge and expertise. 45% of product managers even recently reported that they have a Master’s or Doctorate. But, there is one learning opportunity that signifies mastering a topic (and enhances your LinkedIn profile): Product management certifications.
Here’s even more good news: There are many product management certifications and courses available today. But how do you know which ones are worth your time and money?
A look at successful product management careers:
4 Product Management Certifications That Are Worth Your Time
We’ve scoured the certification landscape. Now, we’ve evaluated top picks based on course content, reviews, communities/groups around the certifications, and industry recognition. Here are the four programs that we liked best.
1. Product School’s Product Management Certification Programs
Product School offers three separate product management certificates designed to take consecutively. The Product Manager Certificate, which is considered a fundamental building block for those embarking on a PM career path, is best for students without prior experience. The course covers basics like assessing target opportunities, building software products, and how to launch a great product. The Product Leader Certificate requires a little more PM experience and demands competence in DevOps, data analytics, and hard technical skills. Key takeaways include product strategy, user research, and the UX/UI design process. Finally, the Product Executive Certificate is geared toward senior-level professionals with experience in a product leadership role. It explores product leadership fundamentals and managing growth, among other takeaways.
Why we like them:
- Product School offers a wealth of industry knowledge and experience from its events, blog, books, podcasts, and associated online communities. As a result, the organization is a complete product management ecosystem.
- Product School’s course instructors work at recognized product-led companies like Google, Spotify, and Netflix, so they have up-to-date information and hands-on experience working in product management.
- Its student advisors are ready to help answer any questions about the certification requirements, course material, and enrollment process.
- There are three certifications, so whether you are just starting in your career or have years of experience—there is a certification that meets your needs wherever you are in your PM career.
- The certification coursework is available on campus at many locations worldwide, or you can take the courses and complete the certification fully online.
2. Pragmatic Institute’s Product Management Certification
The Pragmatic Institute prides itself on the decades of experience in product management roles that its instructors create and teach its Product Management Course Track. The certification covers topics like defining roles and responsibilities, focusing on the right feedback from the right sources, and building buyers’ products. It also promises that PMs will gain “usable skills, tools, and templates you can use when you return to the office.”
What we like about it:
- Pragmatic Institute is well-respected and established across the professional world. Job listings often highlight certifications as well.
- According to PayScale, its product management certification is completed mostly by experienced and mid-career product professionals.
- Pragmatic Institute has many other resources, including a blog, educational articles, a magazine, ebooks, a podcast, and webinars that cater to marketers, product marketers, and product managers/professionals.
- Pragmatic Institute clearly outlines the steps within its certification and what registrants can expect to master. The certification follows this six-step learning journey:
- Foundation: Explores the scope of activities necessary in product management and helps to define various PM roles (e.g., product manager, product owner, product marketing, etc.) in the product process.
- Focus: Teaches how to use market data to identify and present strong product strategies and sell these plans internally successfully.
- Build: Delves into using market data to prioritize requirements, user stories to plan releases, and strategies to align product and development efforts to create remarkable products that delight customers.
- Launch: Shows how to define the right strategy for a successful launch and build alignment across marketing, sales, and the entire organization.
- Price: Examines how to successfully price products throughout the entire lifecycle and in each market.
- The Business of Data Science: Covers the basics of data science, machine learning, and artificial intelligence.
- Like ProductSchool, Pragmatic Institute offers in-person and online options for its certification course.
3. AIPMM Certified Product Manager Credential through 280 Group
This rigorous certification is in partnership with the Association of International Product Marketing and Management (AIPMM), the world’s largest product management association. In addition, 280 Group has exclusive authorization to offer live online, in-person, and on-demand courses for the certification.
AIPMM’s Certified Product Manager course highlights “core skills critical to being a highly effective product manager.” It includes 18 learning modules, quizzes, interactive exercises, study materials, and a comprehensive practice exam to help master the material and prepare for the Certified Product Manager exam. AIPMM’s Agile Certified Product Manager and Product Owner courses provide a “thorough understanding of basic and advanced strategic and tactical concepts in agile product management/product ownership.”
What we like about it:
- AIPMM is the largest internationally recognized professional association for product managers, with more than 65 countries. In addition to the Certified Product Manager track, there are certification tracks in product marketing, innovation, and agile.
- 280 Group is a great option for AIPMM certification completion. It has access to the most training options, making it more convenient.
- 280 Group also offers financing options upfront and communicates total course and test pricing for several training options.
- The 18 lesson modules required to complete the Certified Product Manager course are outlined for potential registrants to review before making any commitment, along with a couple of course video samples.
- 280 Group has a resource section with helpful toolkits, templates, event listings, ebooks, and more, along with a strong (and growing) LinkedIn community.
- Details on financing, course material, and other helpful information can be found here.
4. Product Development and Management Association’s (PDMA) New Product Development Certification
Developed and offered by the Product Development and Management Association (PDMA), New Product Development (NPD) Professional Certification is an internationally recognized body of knowledge. Moreover, NPDP Certification is differentiated by its not-for-profit status as an internationally recognized academic and professional expert organization.
What we like about it:
- PDMA is an established not-for-profit organization with a large membership community, worldwide conferences, a webcast, a research forum, and “camps” that focus on innovation and product development.
- Because knowledge of effective product development is a critical skill for PMs in the product world today, this certification can be a key differentiator in the hiring process or when up for a promotion.
- PDMA also requires users to renew and refresh their knowledge every three years to maintain certification, ensuring that they stay up-to-date with the latest industry changes and trends.
- First Data Corp, Kalypso, FedEx, and AT&T lead with hiring the most professionals with this certification.
- You can complete training for this certification online, at workshops, conferences, and other education partners, allowing for flexible personal preferences.
Of course, it’s essential to keep your skills sharp by leveraging other resources like books and communities. Here are some of our favorite ways to plug in and grow:
- For a full overview of the top resources out there for product professionals, check out our ultimate guide.
- For excellent product management books to add to your reading list, look here and here and here.
- Conferences provide wonderful opportunities for PMs to learn from their peers, network, and gain a fresh perspective. We may be in the middle of a pandemic, but keep an eye on these six product management conferences.
- Here are 11 product management communities we think you should tap into right away.
- These 10 podcasts offer outstanding learning and inspirational content for product managers.
Whatever format your learning takes, be it product management certification or otherwise, keep growing your expertise. As a result, our knowledge will bring the best possible mastery to your product development career. In the meantime, you might find this webinar with our co-founder Jim Semick helpful: