Academy Xi Blog

What is the typical Product Manager career path?

By Academy Xi

In high-demand, Product Managers can take on a range of roles due the diversity of their abilities. Read on to discover more about the different positions Product Managers can progress through on their career journey and the skills required to excel in the field, plus salary insights for the Australian industry.


What is a Product Manager?

Product Managers establish how a product or feature could meet the needs of target customers, while also fulfilling core objectives of a company. They then define what a successful product outcome would entail, and then create a team who can make this vision happen (ideally to timeline and budget!). 


What does a Product Manager do?

Product Managers are actively involved at every stage of product lifecycle management, from conception through to launch to retirement of the product, ensuring that each phase aligns with business objectives and customer needs.

The central point of contact that connects every stakeholder and team, their daily job involves a hefty amount of cross-functional team coordination and stakeholder management to ensure that everyone is working towards the same vision and that expectations are managed and clearly communicated throughout each phase.

In the early stages they conduct comprehensive market and competitor analysis to understand market trends and customer needs. The findings from this research are used to define the product requirements, then the strategy and product roadmap is developed. 

Product Managers are also responsible for the development and delivery of the go-to-market strategy, in collaboration with the marketing and sales teams. This strategy ensures the successful launch and adoption of the product. 

Once a product is out in the world, analytics, and key performance indicators (KPIs) are used by Product Managers for ongoing performance tracking. These findings, along with customer feedback, are used to inform the continuous improvement of the product. 


Skills needed by Product Managers

A combination of hard and soft skills are needed by Product Managers to excel in their roles. Hard skills are specific abilities and skills required to perform job-specific tasks whereas soft skills are interpersonal and non-technical and support Product Managers to engage with everyone effectively. Both skill groups are crucial for facilitating successful collaboration and outcomes. We’ve included some of the essentials as an overview.


Hard skills

Product knowledge: Understanding the industry, competition, and target customers to guide product development.

Technical skills: Familiarity with product development processes, project management tools, and basic understanding of coding, UI/UX design and data analysis.

Business and financial acumen: Ability to build and manage budgets, forecast revenues, and understand market trends.


Soft skills 

Leadership: Ability to guide, inspire, and manage cross-functional teams.

Communication: Proficiency in conveying ideas effectively, listening actively, and managing stakeholder expectations.

Problem-solving: Capacity to identify and address challenges creatively and effectively and troubleshoot challenges that could impact product success.

Steps in the Product Manager career pathway and beyond

As with any specialism, Product Management has career stages that individuals can progress through as they hone their craft, gain more experience, and broaden their networks. Let’s look at the key stages and position titles.


Entry-level product manager jobs

Associate Product Manager

This junior position is the first step and through practical on the job training working on real projects is akin to an apprenticeship. 

Junior Product Manager

Junior PM’s are also entry level, but more autonomous than someone doing an apprenticeship as they’ve got some work experience, potentially from design, engineering or business background. They often work with a product development team and can be under the supervision of a mentor or more senior product manager. 


Mid to senior level positions

Product Manager

This position title can cover those with mid to senior level experience and tends to be individuals who work independently and lead product development teams. 

Senior Product Manager

Literally the same role as the product manager, but the title is reflective of either their time in the game, importance of the product they’re managing or the fact they’re mentoring junior PM’s. 

Product Lead

Also referred to as Lead Product Manager, this position is usually a very senior product manager and in some companies can be on the same level of seniority as a Vice President of Product. This role doesn’t manage other product managers, but focuses on exceptional product management.

Product Director

This position is also known as Group Product Manager and is focused on working on alignment of all key stakeholders across the product development lifecycle. 

Head of Product

Similar to a Director and also called VP Product, the Head of Product is more common in larger companies that have multiple products and levels of management. This role also exists in startups, generally as the most senior position of the product team. Managing the budget and other product managers is the main focus for this role. 

Chief Product Officer (CPO)

The most senior product person in a company, the CPO will represent the Product function in the C-Suite or senior management team. Head of Product and CPO are titles sometimes used interchangeably, and they’re responsible for product strategy and stakeholder alignment.


Common career transitions for Product Managers

Due to their diverse skill set, Product Managers have a wide range of career paths possible for them beyond Product Management. Some common options include:


Product Marketing Manager

This role focuses on understanding the market and customers, developing go-to-market strategies, and driving product adoption.

Program Manager

These professionals manage related projects within an organisation to ensure alignment and efficiency.

Entrepreneur/Start-up Founder

With a comprehensive understanding of product development, market needs, and business strategy, many product managers venture into starting their own businesses.

Venture Capitalist

Product managers’ ability to evaluate product viability and market trends can translate into a successful career in venture capital.


With their strategic and problem-solving skills, product managers can transition to consulting roles, helping businesses solve a wide range of issues.


Product Manager salary Australia

Companies rely heavily on the success of their products and services. As Product Managers are responsible for monitoring the entire product development process and are required to have a command of such a wide range of skills, there are very decent salaries available for the taking. salary data states that the average salary is $136,500, with entry-level roles securing from $115,000 per year and more senior Product Managers commanding up to $170,000. 

Keep in mind that if you specialise in a particular product type or industry, you may be able to secure even higher salaries as you become the go-to expert.

Is there a high demand for Product Managers?

Product Management is one of the best paying positions in tech and demand for qualified talent outweighs the current supply. If you’re thinking of a career pivot, this path is highly promising with no signs of slowing down.


At the time of posting, there are over 7,200 open Product Manager jobs across Australia listed on LinkedIn and the latest employment opportunities on  Seek for PM’s are close to 4,300. 


Launch your Product Management career with quality training 

Investing in industry designed training that will equip you with the fundamental skills to excel in Product Management is vital.

Product Management courses offered with Academy Xi will empower you with:

  • the latest techniques, tools, and trends in the industry
  • skills to take your product from an idea to a marketable reality
  • the ability to manage the design of innovative digital products
  • a working understanding of human-centred design principles


Looking to completely change your career? Product Management: Transform is the training for you and includes unlimited mentoring, live mentor lead video classes and two real live client projects. Better still, students enrolled in Transform courses also receive access to career support to help you land your dream gig after graduation. 

Ready to upskill? Enrol in Product Management: Elevate and learn the latest industry strategies and techniques so you are empowered to confidently lead a product through every stage of development, from research to launch. Including up to twelve 1:1 mentor sessions, you will also be able to access digital skills masterclass webinars and build your portfolio with a personal project. 


If you have any questions or wish to discuss your training options, contact a course advisor today and take the first steps on your Product Management journey.