Think you need a certification to break into product management?
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Think you need a certification to break into product management? Think again.

There’s a common question that I’ve heard from trying to break into a product management role.

It’s usually phrased in one of the following ways:

  • What product management course should I take?
  • Are there any certifications that will help my application?
  • I’ve heard getting my PMP or Agile Product Owner certificiation will help. Is that true?

Stop. Stop. STOP.

You do not need any specific certification or course to become a product manager! In fact, I’d actually question the salt of any hiring manager who specifically asks that their new product manager has any of these.

Hiring managers are not looking for a PMP certification. They’re not looking for a pragmatic marketing certification. And they’re not looking for product owner certification.

So why do so many people still get hung up on the certification question?

It’s because certifications are something most job seekers can wrap their mind around. They’re concrete. They’re safe. And with certifications, it is easy to tell if you’ve succeeded (you got the certification) or failed (you did not).

house teetering on the edge
Photo by Cindy Tang on Unsplash

Product management is not safe. There’s a good chance some of the products you will launch will fail. Some of them publicly and maybe a few of them spectacularly. And the certifications under your belt won’t be of much use when they do.

If you want a role where certifications can help up your salary and improve your career prospects, go into project management, security, or IT systems administration. NOT product management.

Still here? Awesome! So now the question becomes… what do you do if you still want to break into the role of product management?

You take the time you would’ve spent studying for your “certification” and put it into something else.

What is the one “something else” a hiring manager is looking for on a resume?

Proof that you’ve built a successful product.

So go get started on that.

How?

  • Start a blog and sell an info product
  • Learn how to code or use a no-code platform like bubble to create a tiny product
  • Set up a Shopify store and dropship trending items from AliExpress
  • Create a workshop and present it to a group of customers

Find a pain that people are wanting to fix and create a solution for it.

That’s it.

Then slap that on your resume and watch the interview requests roll in.

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