14 Courses For Product Managers To Know In 2021 - Built In

Product management largely runs on an apprenticeship model where professionals learn the ropes and pick up new skills while on the job, but outside coursework can still help accelerate your career.
So what kind of course should you take if you want to do that?
Nancy Wang is general manager of data protection services at Amazon Web Services, and CEO of Advancing Women in Tech, a nonprofit with 16,000 members across three continents. She said choosing a product management program should depend on your goals.
There are two common pathways into product careers, she told me: through formal product management training at large firms like Google and Amazon, or by transitioning from adjacent roles such as customer support, Q&A, engineering and UX design. Those in the latter category tend to benefit most from outside coursework. But figuring out which programs offer the most meaningful and cost-effective instruction can be daunting.
“There’s Product School, which is very well known out there,” Wang said by way of example. “They have a comprehensive program. But it is pricey — at least $10,000, I think, for their full program.”
Financially speaking, that may not be such a bad investment. Built In reports that the average base salary for a product manager is $127, 910 in New York, $113,925 in Chicago and $118, 903 in Boston. For those who advance to a director of product management role, the average base salary jumps to $172,096 in New York, $163,000 in Chicago and $169,210 in Boston.
“I still firmly believe that product is a seeing and doing type of job.”
There are also dozens of master’s level programs offered at schools like New York University, Carnegie Mellon, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of California–Berkeley. Wang expects the number of such offerings to grow as demand for product management skills continues to rise in what some are calling the Golden Age of Product Management.” In fact, a study by Neal Iye, senior product manager at Proofpoint, shows the number of product management roles in the U.S. grew 32 percent from August of 2017 to June of 2019 — five times the increases in overall U.S. roles, which grew 6.6 percent in that same period.
Suffice to say, there are plenty of options available. For working tech professionals seeking to update their skill sets at night or on weekends, the most accessible options may be found online in short certification or specialization modules. Often, such programs are taught by senior-level product managers who offer real-world examples of customer journeys, user research, pricing models and competitive analysis methods.
Wang teaches a four-course Real-World Product Management Specialization, sponsored by Amazon, on Coursera. Like many online programs, it is self-paced and can be completed relatively quickly, by putting in roughly four hours per week for four months. It also offers interview training Wang said prepares job candidates for questions they are likely to hear from hiring managers.
“I still firmly believe that product is a seeing and doing type of job,” she said. “To be frank, I’ve interviewed over 100 PMs now for Google and Amazon. I never asked the question, ‘What courses have you taken?’ My questions are always ‘What have you built?’ or ‘Walk me through a time when you negotiated requirements with customers?’ If you’ve done that, it will come out. If you haven’t done that, no amount of book instruction is going to teach you how to answer that question.”
That said, the right course might fill some gaps in your CV, or help justify promotion to a more elevated role, such as a product leader or product director.
To help you pick the best course to suit your needs, we compiled a list of well-known product management courses available in 2021.
 
Product School offers certificate courses taught by product directors and senior product managers at companies like Spotify, Netflix, Google and Slack. With weekly live online sessions, the program is designed to ensure instructors and students can keep up with their full-time jobs. A comprehensive syllabus covers topics in product strategy, customer acquisition, product-market fit, design thinking and more. Courses examine real-world use cases and follow a progressive career pathway that awards certificates for product managers, product leaders and product executives.
Cost: $4,199 for one certificate, $9,999 for all three
Duration: 2 months, or an intensive 5-day course

 
This self-paced course is broken into four one-week modules focused on leveraging customer insights and data to successfully manage digital products. Taught by Alex Cowan, a Batten fellow in the Darden School of Business, the course targets early career product managers interested in moving up the ladder. With more than 100,000 students enrolled, it is part of a four-course Digital Product Management Specialization sequence that includes courses in design thinking, hypothesis-driven development and agile analytics. 
Cost: $79 per month after 7-day free trial period 
Duration: 4 months
 
Nancy Wang is the lead instructor for Real-World Product Management Specialization, a four-course Coursera sequence offered by Advancing Women in Tech that applies the product curriculums of Wang’s current and former employers, Amazon and Google. The course focuses primarily on business and pricing models that product managers use to demonstrate their success. According to a course description on Coursera, students “perform competitive analysis,” “size [their] product market using TAM, SAM and SOM,” “apply Bain’s elements of value” and “research competitors’ LTV.” To hone their interview skills, current and aspiring product managers also watch live Google and Amazon interviews. Wang said she launched the course to provide women and members of underrepresented groups a low-cost, accessible way to pursue a product career. Proceeds go to Wang’s nonprofit.
Cost: $79 per month
Duration: self-paced, roughly 4 hours per week for 4 months

More on Product Management Professional Development14 Product Roadmapping Tools Every Product Manager Should Know
 
One Week PM by PMHQ is like a weeklong sprint on the fundamentals of product management. Kevin Lee, who previously worked in product at the mobile gaming platform Kabam and has more than 10 patents, developed the curriculum. Day one covers the role of a PM, the product lifecycle, team management and common development methodologies. From there, each day focuses on a core product management skill — user research, writing specifications, prototyping — with audio and video interviews supplementing the core curriculum. Access to a Slack community of more than 9,500 professionals also gives students ample networking opportunities.
Cost: $197 for the course, $497 for the course plus one-on-one mentorship
Duration: 7 days
 
PMHQ also offers a Technical Product Manager course, led by Dhaval Bhatt, a product management leader for artificial intelligence at Wells Fargo and data science instructor at UC–Berkeley. The course focuses on deepening students’ knowledge of web applications and front- and back-end mechanics.
Cost: $197 for the course, $497 for the course plus one-on-one mentorship
Duration: 7 days
 
Created by Soundcloud Senior Product Manager Cole Mercer and Evan Kimbrell, the founder of SprintKick, this popular Udemy course is structured around 13 hours of videos, articles and resources. The course is rated highly by students, and topic descriptions hint at the depth and granularity of the instructors’ expertise. Aspiring and early career product managers learn, for instance, to “run a variety of MVP experiments, such as pitch experiments, redirects, shadow buttons,” and “use Balsamiq to create wireframes at an intermediate level.” Over 1,020 students who have taken the course have landed jobs in the field, including as product managers at companies like Google, Zynga, Airbnb and Wayfair.
Cost: $94.99
Duration: 13 hours
 
The Product Toolkit is an online course module with a starter kit offering 70 lessons, 65 real-world software development examples and 27 templates. Developed by Linda Zhang, who was a group PM at Faire before founding Product Lessons, the no-nonsense online module contains actionable lessons that help product managers and leaders improve their effectiveness on the job. With courses spanning career strategy, planning and execution, aspiring and working product managers learn how to “negotiate like a baller,” design experiments, set focused OKRs, scope features, create dashboards and run effective meetings.
Cost: $119 starter kit, $179 essentials kit, $429 premium kit
Duration: 3 weeks
 
General Assembly is a training academy for software professionals in a variety of fields overseen by a professional advisory board. The organization’s product management curriculum was updated in 2020 to reflect a stronger focus on agile best practices, stakeholder management and data analysis. Product management courses are taught by Aditi Joshi, a cloud architect at Google, Chika Umaedi, head of product and engagement at tiphub and Magda Cortez, senior product manager at eBay Australia. The program culminates with a capstone project that includes the development of a product or feature, documentation and a stakeholder presentation. According to the course website, one recent project “tackled the problem of choice overload among adult readers with Litspiration, a recommendation app,” while another investigated “what would happen if consumers could invest in fantasy sports teams and trade them like stocks.”
Cost: $3,950
Duration: 40 hours with flexible scheduling options
 
Prepared by former Adobe Principal Project Manager Doug Winnie, this product management primer walks learners through six stages of the product lifecycle, covering topics in usability testing, operations management and business strategy. Those new to the field or considering breaking into it get a glimpse of the day-to-day activities and responsibilities of a product manager in a 36-video series. On completing the course, students earn a LinkedIn Learning Certificate and qualify for 1.5 credit hours from the Accountability and Project Management Institute. Those who score over 70 percent on a finishing exam qualify for three continuing professional education credits from the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA).
Cost: $24.99
Duration: 1 hour and 36 minutes
 
The Digital Product Management training program at Boston University is part of the MicroMasters program within the Questrom School of Business. Conceived from a business perspective that views a product manager as “the ‘CEO’ of a digital product,” the eight-month program helps students set up roadmaps, articulate user needs, plan and coordinate an agile development process and oversee the product life cycle. Courses can be taken individually, or as part of a series, with a roughly four- to seven-hour weekly commitment. After completing the online course offered on edX, students can pursue additional graduate-level coursework to earn a Master of Science in Digital Technology (MSDT) from the university.
Cost: $1,995 for the full 5-course program
Duration: 8 months

More on Product Management Professional DevelopmentNew Product Development: A Primer
 
Created by Ken Schwaber, one of the original signatories of the Agile Manifesto, Professional Scrum Product Owner is a two-day course focused on applying an agile framework to product development. Aimed at product owners but relevant to product managers, the course guides students through the process of bringing a product to market and maximizing its value by incorporating customer feedback into an iterative design process. Certified agile instructors teach the courses and submit feedback on course materials, which are stored on GitHub. Within 14 days of completing the course, class participants can take a free certification exam to verify their mastery of core competencies.
Cost: $1,200 to $1,400
Duration: 2 days

 
The Association of International Product Marketing and Management is among the world’s largest product management associations. In an exclusive partnership with AIPMM, the 280 Group provides product manager, digital product manager, product marketing manager and agile product manager and owner certifications. The credentialing program operates independently from vendors, with an emphasis on delivering “the right product for the marketplace.” Courses are tailored to different experience levels and offered in small groups online, as well as through self study and in-person sessions. ProductPlan, which makes roadmapping software, endorses the program for its well-structured curriculum and networking opportunities.
Cost: $2,995 live online, $1,495 self-study, $2,995 in person
Duration: 3 days
 
Career.pm is not a single course, but a career accelerator for product managers offering online courses, coaching and job search support. Greg Prickril, a former product manager at SAP and IBM, and Daniel Zacarias, author of the popular Folding Burritos blog, developed the program to help product managers avoid getting caught in the day-to-day grind and “apply a more strategic approach to their daily work,” according to the website. The program offers training in product, tech and soft skills and coaching options for an additional fee. In Product-Led Growth, Mário Araújo, who leads product growth at OutSystems, details the principles companies like Zoom and Dropbox used to drive product adoption. Students learn a growth strategy the course description says relies on key pillars of “viral/organic acquisition, retention and monetization.”
Cost: $99 per year, $199 per month for 1:1 coaching, $399 per month for leadership coaching
Duration: Variable
 
If you’re interested in expanding your skill set without spending a fortune, Udacity is a worthwhile option. They offer “nanodegrees” in specialized areas such as product management, data product management and AI product management, with programs tailored to all experience levels. A new and highly rated AI Product Manager course, developed in collaboration with the crowd-sourced, AI-assisted annotation company Appen, is targeted at those just getting their feet wet in the specialization. With a focus on applied learning, the course offers students the opportunity to create a medical image data set with Appen and build a machine learning model with Google Automl. In a capstone project, they measure the model’s post-deployment impact and identify ways to improve it.
Cost: 30-day free trial, $199 for 2 months of access
Duration: 2 months at 5-10 hours per week

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