Product School

17 Types of Product Managers: From Entry-Level to Executive

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Carlos González De Villaumbrosia

April 03, 2024 - 13 min read

Updated: June 21, 2024 - 13 min read

If you browse LinkedIn, you’ll find an absolute treasure trove of product manager titles among product people. Some of them are pretty straightforward. Product Manager, Technical Product Manager, etc.

Others are a bit more creative. Product Guru, Product Genius…And then we get to the job titles that seem to be a mile long. Senior VP of Digital Consumer Products (Growth). Now, that’s a mouthful!

Product is a very nuanced profession, and there are many levels of product management. If you’re new to the product sector, it can be hard to know the difference between a senior product manager vs a staff product manager. We want to cut through the noise and take you through some of the most common Product Manager job titles, to help you understand who does what. 

In this article, we cover 17 different types of product manager roles from entry to C-level positions, including responsibilities, salaries*, and challenges associated with each type of product management. 

*Salaries are based on aggregate, anonymously reported data and vary significantly based on country, region, and company.

First things first: What is a Product Manager?

A Product Manager sits at the intersection between technology, design, and business. Rather than having any official authority over people, they act as leaders by guiding teams toward a shared end goal. Usually, they preside over one particular product, working with designers, engineers, marketing, and business analysts. 

Product managers and leaders are the glue that keeps the whole team working together. They also communicate with stakeholders, own the product vision, have a deep understanding of their customers, and create the product roadmap.

What kind of Product Manager are you?

As you read, you might find yourself wondering, “where do I fit into all of this?” If you’re just starting out, you might have an idea of how your product manager career will pan out. Or you might have no idea! There are many roads that lead to Product, and even more roads that lead to the top.

Everyone’s journey looks slightly different, and there are many types of Product Managers. If you’re thinking of transitioning from another discipline, check out this handy guide.

The First Level of Product Management: Getting Started in the Field

1. Associate Product Manager (APM)

An Associate Product Manager is an entry-level role and a great way to break into Product. Working in an assistant-like position with other Product Managers, an APM is given a variety of smaller tasks to assist with product development.

Some big companies like Facebook and Google run well-known APM programs specifically to help people break into Product.

Check out our guide on Everything You Need to Know about APM Programs.

Average salary in the US: Approximately $85,000 annually.

Main responsibilities: APMs assist in the development and execution of product strategies, gather and analyze customer feedback, and collaborate with cross-functional teams to deliver product enhancements.

Challenges: Like anyone starting out in a new career, APMs have to work hard to earn respect and authority within their teams without extensive experience. Because product managers wear so many hats, they have a lot to learn.

2. Product Manager

Product Managers have full ownership of a product or a significant feature within a larger product. They are at the core of the product management positions, driving the development, launch, and continuous improvement of their products.

Product Managers can usually expect to work alongside other team members and not above them. The key to wielding their ‘power’ is to influence without authority. Earning the trust of those on the product team is the best way to get things done.

Average salary in the US: Around $120,000 annually.

Challenges: Balancing the diverse needs of stakeholders, managing time and resources efficiently, and making tough prioritization decisions.

3. Senior Product Manager

A Senior Product Manager manages a group of products rather than just one, which can mean overseeing other Product Managers. 

At this stage in your career, you will be expected to think long-term and decide where you want your team to be in 3-5 years' time. This strategy needs to be convincing so that your directors, stakeholders, and teams get on board.

Generally, this involves a more hands-off approach in terms of individual product development. Instead, Senior PMs participate in more meetings and have more interaction with high-level stakeholders. Recruitment is also a key task for a Senior Product Manager.

Climbing the project manager ladder: Senior Product Management almost always requires several years of experience as a Product Manager, but it’s not uncommon to see Product people from other areas transition to this role.

Average salary in the US: $145,000, approximately.

Challenges: Managing larger and more complex product portfolios as well as people, who are always complex!

Specializing within Product Management

As product managers ascend the product manager ladder, opportunities to specialize emerge, allowing for deeper focus on specific areas of the product lifecycle, customer segments, or technical domains. These specialized roles reflect the diverse types of product management positions within the industry, each contributing unique value to their organizations.

It’s always a good idea to incorporate your professional and life experience into your product management role. If you have a background in tech, marketing, data science, or any other skill set, you can bet it will be welcomed in the PM community, and by hiring managers!

4. Technical Product Manager

Technical Product Managers possess a strong technical background, often with experience in software development or engineering. They specialize in products that require more advanced technical knowledge, such as APIs, data platforms, or complex backend systems.

Their responsibilities include defining technical requirements, working closely with engineering teams to guide product development, and translating complex technical details into business value for non-technical stakeholders.

While most of their actual duties will be identical to a non-technical Product Manager, they’ll be able to lend more of their skills to the engineering team and have a more hands-on role. It might mean that they have less time to dedicate to other aspects of Product, like marketing.

Venn Diagram Product Manager vs Technical Product Manager

Average Salary (US): $130,000

Challenges: Balancing technical depth with the broader product management responsibilities, ensuring that product decisions align with both technical viability and market needs.

5. Growth Product Manager

Growth PMs focus less on the life of a product and more on driving user acquisition, retention, and monetization. They dedicate their time to improving certain business metrics. While all Product Managers keep their goals in line with those of the business as a whole, this will be a Growth Product Manager’s primary focus.

They employ data-driven approaches to optimize the product for market growth and user engagement. By owning a metric rather than an entire product, a Growth Product Manager designs and runs a series of experiments, working on a micro rather than a macro level.

Growth Product Manager vs Product Manager Venn Diagram


Average salary in the US: Approx. $135,000

Challenges: Continuously identifying new growth levers and experimenting with strategies in a rapidly changing market can be daunting, requiring a blend of creativity and a passion for data analysis.

6. Data Product Manager

Venn Diagram Product Manager vs Data Product Manager


A Data Product Manager will be more adept at data management and analysis. They manage data-driven products or features, such as analytics platforms, AI models, or business intelligence tools. Data PMs spend their days ensuring data quality and accessibility, and collaborating with data scientists and analysts to turn data into actionable insights for users.

Data Product Management is a great career choice for anyone who loves working with numbers. Neither data nor product is disappearing any time soon!

Average salary in the US: $130,000 annually, reflecting the specialized skills and knowledge required in this role.

Challenges: Balancing the technical complexities of data products with user-friendly design. Data PMs also have to deal with data governance ensuring privacy standards are met across different jurisdictions.

7. Product Marketing Manager

Product Marketing Managers bridge the gap between product development and marketing strategy. They are pivotal in positioning, launching, and driving demand for the product in the market. A Product Marketing Manager is less involved in how the product is built, and will probably spend less time with engineers working out bugs and roadmaps. 

The day-to-day of a PMM will usually include creating case studies, web content, press briefings, product testing, and managing the overall marketing team.

They are considered to be the voice of the customer within a product team and will conduct customer research and organize focus groups. A PMM role can be the perfect transition for marketing professionals to break into Product.

Venn Diagram Product Manager vs Product Marketing Manager

Average salary in the US: $125,000 annually

Challenges: Ensuring that the product's value proposition is effectively communicated across diverse customer segments and adapting strategies to the dynamic market conditions are key challenges.

8. UX/Product Design Manager

UX/Product Design Managers focus on the user experience and design aspects of product management. They ensure that products are not only functional but also intuitive and engaging for users. 

Product Design managers lead design teams, define UX/UI standards, conduct user research, and collaborate with product managers and engineers to integrate user-centered design into the product development process.

Average salary in the US: $125,000

Challenges: Balancing aesthetic design with functionality, aligning user experience with business goals, and advocating for user-centric approaches in product decisions.

9. AI Product Manager

AI Product Managers specialize in products powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies. They play a pivotal role in defining the vision and direction for AI-driven products or features. 

They are responsible for identifying AI/ML opportunities, defining product requirements for AI features, collaborating with data scientists and engineers, and ensuring the ethical use of AI technologies. With AI becoming increasingly essential in various industries, AI Product Managers play a critical role in shaping the future of product development.

With the growing wave of AI products, more product managers will become proficient in AI in order to make products that leverage LLMs and machine learning. 

Average salary in the US: $160,000 annually, although due to the novelty and demand of the role, that number is varies significantly.

Challenges: Navigating the rapidly evolving AI landscape, managing expectations around AI capabilities versus reality, and addressing ethical and privacy concerns related to AI use.

Get inspired about AI in product! Check out this talk by Joe Futty, VP of Product at Booking.com.

Leadership within Product Management

As product managers ascend the product manager ladder, leadership roles become pivotal, signifying a shift towards strategic oversight, mentorship, and influencing organizational product vision. These positions embody the higher echelons in the types of product management, requiring a blend of technical proficiency, business acumen, and leadership skills.

10. Staff Product Manager

Staff Product Managers are seasoned professionals who contribute significantly to product strategy and mentorship within product teams. They often work horizontally to handle complex problems and serve as advisors. Often individual contributors, the decisions of Staff PMs will guide investments of money and time, higher risks but also higher rewards, and product impact. 

Average salary in the US: $180,000 annually

Challenges: Balancing hands-on product work with strategic planning and mentorship, and influencing across multiple teams without direct authority.

11. Product Lead

Product Leads are primarily responsible for new products within a company. When large companies launch something brand new, they need experienced and trustworthy professionals to lead the way.

They spend most of their time liaising between different departments and communicating with senior management. Their main responsibility is to ensure that the final product is delivered on time and within budget, which means schedules and targets are their lifeblood!

Average salary in the US: $160,000 annually

Challenges: When you take big bets, you’re bound to fail sometimes. The challenge of bringing new products to market is that there are many unknowns, but Product Leads learn from mistakes and keep improving until they get there.

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12. Group Product Manager

A step above Lead Product Manager, Group Product Managers hold senior leadership roles, often overseeing entire product lines or categories. Some Group Product Managers prefer to lean more towards individual contribution; conducting research, focusing on strategy, and generally being more hands-on with development. Others prefer to have a zoomed-out approach and focus more on managing the teams.

Average salary in the US: $210,000 annually.

Challenges: Ensuring strategic coherence and operational efficiency across large and diverse product teams, and aligning product visions with overall business strategy.

13. Director of Product Management

Directors of Product Management are high-level executives who oversee all product management activities within an organization or business unit. It is a cross-functional leadership role that involves overseeing the work of Senior Product Managers and the teams they lead. They identify potential areas for the growth of a product within its market and have control over recruitment.

Average salary in the US: $215,000 annually.

Challenges: Balancing immediate product needs with long-term strategic goals, fostering innovation while managing risk, and ensuring product strategies align with the company's mission and market needs.

14. Principal Product Manager

Principal Product Managers are highly experienced leaders, often focusing on strategic innovation and guiding the company's most critical product initiatives. They are individual contributors who are responsible for leading strategic product initiatives related to top-priority products.

Average salary in the US: $145,000 annually.

Challenges: Driving innovation and strategic direction in complex and rapidly evolving markets, and cultivating a strong product-centric culture across the organization.

Executive Level Product Management

At the zenith of the product manager hierarchy, executive roles encapsulate the strategic leadership and visionary foresight required to steer the product and, often, the company's direction. These positions represent the pinnacle in the types of product management roles, requiring not just expertise in product development but also in corporate governance, market positioning, and organizational leadership.

15. Head of Product or VP of Product

These titles are both used for senior executives who oversee the entire product management function, setting the long-term vision and strategy for the product portfolio. They are responsible for making sure that teams are working together seamlessly to deliver results that align with the company’s business objectives. 

At this level of management, Heads and VPs of Product have the opportunity to drastically change the direction of Product Manager at a company and to shape its product culture. 

Average salary in the US: $255,000 annually.

Challenges: Ensuring the product strategy is robust and adaptable to market changes, fostering a culture of innovation and excellence, and balancing stakeholder interests across the organization.

Hear it straight from a Head of Product! Millie Zah, Head of Product at DAZN, shares her story and advice for succeeding in Product:

16. Senior Vice President (SVP) of Product 

SVPs of Product Management hold an elevated position within the company, often involved in broader business strategy beyond product management.  They are responsible for setting strategic priorities for the product and the business, driving cross-functional alignment, and contributing to the executive management of the company.

Average salary in the US: The compensation for SVPs can exceed $270,000 annually. 

Challenges: Navigating complex business ecosystems, driving product and business innovation at scale, and maintaining competitive advantage in rapidly evolving markets.

17. Chief Product Officer (CPO)

Meet a passionate CPO: Check out what Fernando Fanton, CPO at Monzo, has to say about getting it right in the world of FinTech products.

The CPO is the top executive role within the product management hierarchy, responsible for the overall product vision, strategy, and execution across all products. CPOs hold a seat at the decision-making table, representing product and product-led growth amongst other key stakeholders.

Average salary in the US: $290,000 annually.

Challenges: Crafting a cohesive product vision that aligns with the company's long-term goals, leading innovation in highly competitive markets, and ensuring that the product organization scales effectively with the business.

Did you know that the CPO role is on the rise?

There are more CPOs than ever before. Read about the growing importance of Chief Product Officers—and Product—at top companies in the Future of Product Report.

Get Insights

Updated: June 21, 2024

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