Thinking About Getting a PM Certification? Read this First

There’s a lot of courses, certifications, programs, and even related certifications out there that you can take as an aspiring or practice product manager. Figuring out which one to pursue can take hours, if not days of research.

The good news is that once you find the right one for you, it can really help you further your PM career goals.

But…there are a few things that you should think about before deciding which training to take. These are things like:

  • What is your experience level?
  • What are your career goals?
  • How much money do you have to spend on this?
  • How much time can you devote?

Experience Level

If you’re looking for your first role as a product manager, the certifications and courses that you’re probably going to be looking at are different from someone who’s been in the field for quite a few years.

For example, if you’re looking for an APM role, you may want to choose a more general product management course. While if you’re mid-career in product, you may want to choose a more specific subject matter — like a certified product owner course.

Career Goals

Are you cool with being an individual contributor and you want to get really, really good at what you do? Or do you want to maybe move into upper management?

This may decide whether you go to really in the weeds of workshops or really high level stuff like leadership training.

Time & Money

There are some really expensive things you can do to further your PM career, like go get an MBA. That not only knocks out two years of your career, but also two years of your potential earnings. But on the other hand, you can earn more in the long term and you can expand your network.

Another option is to find an apprenticeship where you are taken under the wing of a product person and you learn everything on the job.

The only thing is sometimes apprenticeships don’t pay as much, so it really depends on what your budget is for this and how much money you’re willing to give up and what kind of opportunity costs you’re willing to deal with.

Do the Research

Now that you know, and you have a general idea of what kind of certifications and programs you should be looking for the next step is to do the research.

Make sure you check out job placement rates for some of these certifications or programs that you’re thinking about entering. Scour the web for reviews. These should be pretty easy to find, especially if it’s a program that’s been around for a while.

And another thing you can do is join some of the private PM Slack communities. Some of these are Mind the Product and PM HQ. Just go ahead and join those and do a quick search for the programs that you’re thinking about and maybe ask around and see if anyone has done them and what they thought about them.

This way you’ll get a little bit more candid feedback than something that’s maybe written about in a blog post on the web that might be sponsored by the program that you’re thinking about joining.

One Caveat to Mention

One thing I do want to note…a product management certification isn’t necessarily a requirement for getting a PM job.

You can definitely get a PM job without one. Don’t get one just because you feel the pressure to, or you think it may be useful… get one because you really know that it’s going to help you reach your goals.

Wrapping up…

You can find the right product certification for you by asking yourself…

  • What are my goals?
  • Where am I in my career?
  • How much time and money do I have to spend?

You should also check to see if a program is good by checking reviews, doing the research and looking at job placement rates.