Are Product Management certifications worth it?
The short answer: it depends
The value of a certification will depend on your goals and level of experience with Product Management.
Here are some possible goals and how useful a certification might be:
1. I want to get into Product Management for the first time: highly useful (see the below section on those looking to enter into product management)
2. I want to make more money: not a great primary goal for a certification. One certification will not get you your dream job but will equip you with the tools needed to deliver value more effectively. Coursera claims that a certified product manager can have a salary that is $20,000 higher than an uncertified product manager. Please take this with a grain of salt but the potential is there!
3. I want to shake my imposter syndrome: Imposter syndrome is always a challenge for anyone in Product Management I would argue. Morenike on Medium defines imposter syndrome as feeling incapable of performing in comparison to others around us. Not a complete solve it is possible that a certification may give you one more degree of confidence and reduce symptoms of Imposter Syndrome
4. I want to launch better products: hopefully through feedback, tips and new tricks a certification can aid in optimizing your product chops to improve your ability to launch cool things
Did I miss any goals? Let me know in the comments.
In my opinion there are three buckets of people who could consider Product Management certifications:
1. Those looking to enter into Product Management from an external field
I believe Product Management certifications for the most part have the greatest value for those not yet in Product Management but who are looking to enter. Certifications generally answer a few basic things
What Product is
The basics of doing the job
How to learn more about if if you’re interested
Reading between the lines, showing that you have completed a Product Management certification shows a potential employer or internal team you’re looking to transfer to that you have an interest in the subject and have taken time out of your busy schedule to learn more.
2. Those new to Product Management
Certifications can provide great value to those new to Product Management. When starting out in Product, you’re probably doing things wrong or sub optimally. Before you became a Product Manager, you didn’t even know what questions to ask. Now that you’ve got a few months or a year under your belt you have the inverse problem; a non stop waterfall of questions about things on the job. A course (and experienced instructor) can be the perfect way to get any and all of your questions answered. One thing is for sure, anyone teaching a certification class is not doing it for the money, they are doing it because they get joy and fulfillment from teaching new product managers.
3. Those experienced in Product Management
I am not sure I would recommend a certification to those experienced in Product Management. Certifications offer the least value to this group. Looking at the goals outlined earlier in this article, you no longer need to get into Product Management, one course will probably not get you that next raise, hopefully you’ve moved past imposter syndrome, and ideally you would have some pretty great product launch chops by now. The greatest opportunity with a course at this point in your career is likely networking with others around you also taking the course. However I have no data to support this but would assume that the majority of certification students are going to be new to product or not yet in product. While everyone is worth networking with, if your goal is to get to know experienced Product Managers this might not be the best avenue for you.
Overall certifications can be extremely valuable to any aspiring or new Product Manager. I personally have taken a few courses including Certified Scrum Product Owner, and the General Assembly Product Management Training. Best of luck in your education endeavors and never stop learning!
About the Author
Ben Staples has over 8 years of Product Management and Product Marketing eCommerce experience. He is currently employed at Nordstrom as a Manager of Product Management managing a team of Product Managers focused on Nordstrom’s eCommerce experience across the web and app. Previously, Ben was a Senior Product Manager for Trunk Club responsible for their iOS and Android apps. Ben started his Product career as a Product Manager for Vistaprint where he was responsible for their cart and checkout experiences. Learn more at www.Ben-Staples.com
I do Product Management consulting! Interested in finding out more? Want to get notified when my next Product article comes out? Interested in getting into Product Management but don't know how? Want book recommendations?! Contact me!