Product Manager vs. Project Manager (2023)

Product managers and project managers can and often do work closely together on the same initiatives, but in most cases, they have two different sets of responsibilities. This page will discuss the differences between product vs project managers in detail, as well as the ways the two roles overlap. But first, here is a high-level summary of the two roles:

Product managers have strategic responsibility for driving the development of products, whereas project managers are responsible for overseeing the execution of those development plans.

(Video) Product Manager vs Project Manager - Project Management Training

Product Manager vs. Project Manager (1)

Before we discuss the specific differences between product and project managers, let’s clarify what we mean by each role.

What is a Product Manager?

In describing the product manager’s role, our friends at Mind the Product cite Marty Cagan’s book Inspired, which explains succinctly that the job of a product manager is to “discover a product that is valuable, usable and feasible.”


Mind the Product defines the role in more detail. The product manager, they explain, will first set a vision for the product (based on research), then communicate that vision throughout the organization. Throughout this process, the product manager attempts to persuade executives and other stakeholders to become passionate about the planned product. If successful, the product manager will develop a strategic action plan (typically, via a well-designed product roadmap) to help the organization bring the envisioned product to reality.

At this stage, the product manager will begin breaking the strategic-level plans down into actionable tasks, goals, teams, and deadlines. This is where the project manager comes into play.
Product Manager vs. Project Manager (2)

What is a Project Manager?

The Project Management Institute offers a very helpful description of a project manager‘s role.

(Video) Project Manager vs Product Manager (WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE?)

As they explain, the project manager is responsible for breaking down strategic plans into actionable, task-oriented initiatives. This process involves coordination, delegation, and leadership, as the project manager must navigate interdependencies, team dynamics, and one-off challenges, all while meeting a deadline with limited resources.

Responsibilities of Product Managers vs Project Managers

Using the explanations above, we can summarize each role with the following shortlists:

Product Manager’s FunctionsProject Manager’s Functions
ResearchingBreaking down large initiatives into tasks
Setting product visionPlanning project timelines
Communicating vision to stakeholdersAllocating project resources
Developing a strategic planMonitoring and tracking task completion
Creating and maintaining the product roadmapCommunicating progress to stakeholders
Overseeing and driving developmentEnsuring project completion in a set timeframe

Is There Any Overlap Between Product and Project Managers?

Despite what this polarizing side-by-side comparison may suggest, there is in fact some overlap in responsibilities between product management and project management.

(Video) Project vs Program vs Product Management Explained

There are times when a product manager has to dig into the tactical, task-based details of a product’s development—work that might otherwise be done by a project manager. These situations will take a product manager into close coordination with a project manager, and in some cases, the two might even share some of this task-management responsibility.
Product Manager vs. Project Manager (3)
On the flip side, when circumstances call for it, project managers too can shift from their primarily tactical role to a more strategic stance.

Most of the skills required for project management can be transferred over to the wider analytical scope often deployed by product managers. For example, a project manager with strong troubleshooting abilities is really just a skilled problem solver. To channel that core problem-solving skill on a big-picture scale would be to take on the role of a product manager.

It is also worth noting that product managers and project managers alike lean on similar soft skills in order to succeed in their roles. We wrote about 4 essential product management soft skills—listening, communication, organization, and product evangelism—all of which serve successful project managers as well.

(Video) The difference between Product, Program and Project Management

Product Manager vs. Project Manager (4)


In the textbook definitions of their respective roles, product managers and project managers each have clearly delineated areas of responsibility. But in real organizations, as we’ve discussed above, the two roles inevitably bleed into one another. The extent to which they overlap is largely dependent on the specific organization. In the end, of course, professionals in both of these roles are working toward the same all-important outcome: a successful product.


Who is higher product manager or project manager? ›

In most organizations, the product manager is considered to be higher in the hierarchy than the project manager. The product manager is responsible for the overall strategy, vision, and success of a product or product line; the project manager is responsible for the planning and execution of a specific project.

Can a project manager become a product manager? ›

The good news for you is that, as a project manager, you already have some of the experience and skills needed to become a product manager. But the two roles are very different. Making the transition will require you learn many skills you might not have acquired in your project management career.

How is product manager different from project manager? ›

A product manager focuses on product development and releases while a project manager focuses on coordinating, managing, and overseeing projects. In this article, we cover the key differences between the two roles. Learn more to determine which role is right for your team.

What is better product management or project management? ›

Project management focuses internally to achieve specific objectives and complete a given project on time and under budget. Once the project is completed, it is no longer 'managed. ' Product Management takes a broader view and focuses externally on the customer and the overall and continued success of the project.

What is the salary difference between project manager and product manager? ›

Generally, salaries for product managers and project managers are comprable in India. The average product manager's salary in India is ₹15,00,000 a year, while a project manager in India also makes an average salary of ₹15,00,000, according to September 2022 data from Glassdoor [1, 2].

Are product managers highly paid? ›

To put it simply - a lot! Depending upon the organization you end up working with, Product Management is one of the highest-paying jobs in the corporate world. An Indian MBA graduate can earn a median base salary of ₹ 15.2 lakhs per annum, excluding other salary components like bonuses.

What qualifies you to be a product manager? ›

Product managers usually have a degree in technical fields such as engineering and computer sciences, an MBA and a complementary certification within product management. One can also target a product management job through non-tech areas by networking within the firms seeking their expertise.

Is product manager a difficult job? ›

Product management (PM) is a challenging career. It's high stakes. It's demanding. It can make you want to tear your hair out.

Is a product manager a boss? ›

While working as a product manager and while interacting with other seasoned product managers and head of product management teams of other firm's, one thing is absolutely crystal clear that Product Manager is a leader rather than boss of anyone.

Is Scrum Master a product manager? ›

Scrum Master role is distinct from the product manager role as the scrum master manages the product delivery team and facilitates tasks.

What pays more product or program management? ›

The median salary for program managers in the United States is $138,128. Meanwhile, entry-level product managers have a median salary of $70,723 and could work their way to a median salary of $114,552 with 4-7 years of experience.

Is product manager a technical role? ›

A technical product manager (PM) is a product manager with a strong technical background that is typically focused on the more technical aspects of the product. A technical PM works more closely with the engineering team than the business, sales, and marketing teams of the organization.

Which is better Scrum Master or Product Manager? ›

The product manager serves as a team leader and is responsible for project performance and ensuring that everything goes according to plan. A scrum master leads the Scrum team and stakeholders in Scrum training and coaching and encourages the developers' ability to add more value to the product.

Is product management a good career path? ›

Discover with us how to build better products. The career path of a product manager is a rewarding one, and one which is constantly growing in demand and has a high salary to boot. In its list of 50 best jobs in America for 2021, Glassdoor ranked the role of product manager at #3.

Do product managers make less than engineers? ›

Depending on who you ask, product managers earn more than software engineers and vice versa. Keep in mind that experience, tenure, and industry all impact whether one role makes more money than another and vice versa.

Why are product managers paid so high? ›

The salary depends on various factors such as experience, skills, location, and company. Product managers are in high demand because they can see the big picture and think strategically about product development.

What type of project managers make the most money? ›

Here are five high-paying jobs in project management.
  • IT Project Manager. Information technology is one of the highest grossing fields in general, and the role of the It project manager is no exception. ...
  • Engineering Project Manager. ...
  • Marketing Project Manager. ...
  • Construction Project Manager. ...
  • Health Services Project Manager.

Who earns more product owner or project manager? ›

What is the Average and Highest Salary for PO & PM in 2022? Product Managers typically make more money than Product Owners. Again, because each job has a default interpretation, the latter is less sophisticated.

Is product manager a stressful job? ›

Product management can be quite stressful due to the level of autonomy and responsibility given. Learning to balance the expectations of the role with the ambiguity that surrounds it is key to a successful and healthy career as a product manager.

What is the minimum salary of a product manager? ›

What is the starting salary for a Product Manager in India? Average starting Salary for Product Manager in India is around ₹5.2 Lakhs per year (₹43.3k per month).

Do product managers need to code? ›

Do product managers need to be technical? Though you won't necessarily be required to code, a basic comprehension of programming languages is a massive advantage in the tech industry. SQL, Python, C#, HTML, and CSS are crucial for product managers because they're usually used to create tech products.

Is product manager a high level role? ›

Product managers are mid-level roles. While you don't necessarily have to have a direct product management background, you should have professional experience and demonstrable skills in communication, leadership, and strategy. Product managers are responsible for the strategy, roadmap, and features of a product.

How many hours does a product manager work? ›

Generally speaking, I've noticed that most product managers aim for about 50 hours per week.

What degree is best for product manager? ›

qualified product managers often complete a master's in business administration (MBA) or a master's in business management and leadership, both of which can be completed online. Though lengthy, these master's programs provide necessary education used daily by product managers.

How old is the average product manager? ›

39 years old

Why do product managers quit? ›

Lack of opportunity—There aren't too many product managers content to do their existing job forever; they're looking for chances to advance, take on more responsibility, and expand their skill set.

What are the weakness of a product manager? ›

As an example, many product managers lead with the weakness of “I wish I were more technical”, but it's rare that technical knowledge would fundamentally change the way that a product decision was made. We want to see that you understand where to focus your time, rather than just calling out random weaknesses.

Can a shy person be a product manager? ›

Can introverts be successful as product managers? No matter what you may have heard, we believe the answer to this question is a resounding “yes!” If you're an introvert, or simply have several introverted tendencies (who needs labels anyway?), this one's for you.

Do product managers own P&L? ›

In most organisations, the PM does not own the P&L. The P&L ownership lies with a general manager or the business unit leader. A PM deals with financials when preparing a business plan, and tracking usage.

What is the next position after product manager? ›

Senior product manager. Director of product. VP of product. Chief product officer (CPO)

Who earns more product manager or Scrum Master? ›

Higher Earning Power

According to a salary survey by the Scrum Alliance, a Scrum team member typically earns around $88,000 per year. A Scrum Master, on the other hand, earns an average annual base salary of around $95,000.

Is agile a product manager? ›

What is agile product management? Agile product management is an adaptive approach to product strategy planning and implementation where teams work in alignment to achieve product goals. It involves faster feedback, product improvements, and iterations; and usually, better sales.

Is a product manager part of Agile? ›

Being a product manager in an agile environment requires flexibility. This is because less time is spent defining the product upfront, so product managers must continuously adapt the product roadmap and reprioritize what to build based on customer feedback.

Why can't a project manager be the product owner? ›

They are vastly different roles. A project manager is primarily concerned with the delivery of products within a predetermined time frame. A product owner is primarily concerned that the right product is built, and that the right problems are being solved in order of priority.

What position is under a product manager? ›

An associate product manager (APM) is an entry-level position, usually reporting to a product manager (PM) or group product manager. This is often a mentorship position secured at the start of a product manager's career.

What roles can product managers transition to? ›

What is a Product Manager's Career Path?
  • Product developer.
  • Product marketer.
  • Product planner.
  • Product lead engineer.
  • Marketing manager.
  • Director of product management.
  • Product analytics manager.
  • Product marketing lead.

How do I become a product manager with no experience? ›

5 Steps to Becoming a Product Manager (Even Without Experience)
  1. Understanding Key Skills. In order to find success in the field, aspiring product managers must first understand the key skills that consistently define success in the role. ...
  2. Obtain an Education. ...
  3. Test Your Skills. ...
  4. Gain Certification. ...
  5. Seek Employment.

Why Scrum Master paid more? ›

Industry: Scrum Masters in IT and software development tend to earn more compared to those in other industries. Location: Cities with a high cost of living and high demand for Scrum Masters often offer higher salaries. Company size: Larger companies often offer higher salaries than smaller companies.

Which is better Six Sigma or Scrum Master? ›

While both have their roots in lean manufacturing, Six Sigma focuses on continuous improvement, whereas Scrum is focused on iterative planning and short-term delivery. In other words, Six Sigma is more analytical, while Scrum focuses on the nitty-gritty of software development.

What is the salary of a scrum Product Owner? ›

How much does a Scrum Product Owner make in the United States? The average Scrum Product Owner salary in the United States is $137,377 as of February 27, 2023, but the range typically falls between $125,092 and $153,403.

Do product managers make millions? ›

Some product managers at Google, Slack, Uber, and Microsoft can earn average salaries of over $200,000 a year. These companies are considered some of the best places to work as product managers (Source).

Is an MBA worth it for a product manager? ›

Although you currently don't need an MBA to land a job as a product manager, an advanced degree can help get your foot in the door when applying to high-profile companies. An MBA in product management can also help you climb the corporate ladder faster than you would with only a bachelor's degree.

What is the salary for a product manager career path? ›

Average Product Manager Salary:

The average product manager's salary is around $112,000/year. Although, some product management positions pay as low as $80,000/year. This is a significant increase in the salary of most associate product manager roles.

What is the hardest thing about being a product manager? ›

What's the hardest part of product management? Our research shows that the hardest parts of the job for many product managers are organizational comms, managing deadlines, team alignment, and balancing different responsibilities.

Why is it so hard to be a product manager? ›

Perhaps the hardest part of being a Product Manager is the community-building aspect. A person can have all the qualifications and hard skills needed to be the best Product Manager to date, but without the ability to effectively build relationships across teams and with colleagues, they may never succeed.

Do product managers have a future? ›

With 20,000+ jobs available on LinkedIn alone, the product management domain is in high demand in India and abroad. According to Jobted, the average salary for a product manager is around 246% higher than the national average salary in India.

Who is higher than product manager? ›

However, in a large organization, a chief product officer is the most senior product expert responsible for the product teams, processes, and delivery of tasks. They manage multiple product managers and oversee product strategy, product architecture, and end-to-end product execution.

What is the highest position for a project manager? ›

The director of project management is often the highest-ranking employee in a company's project management operation. The director of program management oversees the company's big-picture planning, including all projects executed by the company.

What is the next level for product manager? ›

Once a product manager has around 3-5 years of experience under their belt, they can move up to the role of a senior product manager. At this level, you'll be taking on more responsibilities in your role, which include the following: Managing product managers. Managing collaboration across cross functional teams.

What are the 4 stages of product management? ›

The four are introduction, growth, maturity, and then decline. Products and companies progress through these stages of development and the way that you know which stage they're in is how much revenue they're making over time.

Who is the boss of a product manager? ›

CPO / Chief Product Officer

A Chief Product Officer (CPO) is the most senior product person in an organisation. They usually manage more than one team of product managers and represent product in the C-suite or management team.

What position is below a product manager? ›

An associate product manager (APM) is an entry-level position, usually reporting to a product manager (PM) or group product manager. This is often a mentorship position secured at the start of a product manager's career.

What is 90% of a project manager's job? ›

It turns out that 90% of a project manager's job is spent on communication so it's important to make sure everybody gets the right message at the right time.

Do project managers make six figures? ›

Take note that project managers without PMP certification make an average salary of $91,000 per year while those that are PMP certified receive an average of $111,000 or 20% higher. Meanwhile, senior project managers are the leading dollar earners with salaries ranging from $100,000 to over $150,000.

What is the lowest position in project hierarchy? ›

Team leaders and team members: Team leaders and team members are at the lowest level of the project hierarchy, in that order. They report directly to the project managers.

What level is Amazon product manager? ›

A principal product manager at Amazon is a level 7.

Amazon's product managers typically range from L5 to L8. Product managers moving into director roles or VP product manager roles are considered levels 8 & 10.


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