If you want to become a software developer, one option is to major in computer science or software engineering in college. You probably won’t hit the job market with much experience coding, but that degree gives you a good shot at a first job in software engineering because it signals that you have a technical background.
But what if you want to be a product manager? Or what if you’re already a product manager and want to sharpen your skills? What product management training paths are out there for you?
As we wrote in a recent post, Product Manager Career Paths: 3 Myths Debunked, there are many roundabout routes to a product management career, but few paths are as straight and clear as the ones leading to, for example, a software developer. Some find their way to product management after first being a designer; others come from an entrepreneurial background; still others fall into product management after stints as marketing professionals or developers. There really isn’t one standard or accepted product management training path.
You aren’t likely to find a simple way to acquire product management training on the job, either, because product management positions almost always differ based on the industry, the company’s culture, and the products you are managing at a given job.
Where can you go if you want useful product management training?
1. Take online product management courses at sites like Udemy and Lynda.com.
You can learn a lot about product management without ever leaving your desk by viewing video courses online on platforms like Lynda.com (now a LinkedIn company).
“These days you can learn a lot about product management without ever leaving your desk.”
A search of their massive library of video courses reveals that Lynda.com offers more than 7,000 instructional video clips on product management. Their product management training content covers topics as diverse as the foundations of product management, agile best practices, and pitching product ideas to your stakeholders.
The online learning site Udemy also offers a sizable library of product management training videos — from the very basics of becoming a product manager to advanced product management principles.
2. Attend live training at a Pragmatic Marketing event.
If you can get away from your desk, and if you can convince your company to pay for it, you should sign up for a live training session with Pragmatic Marketing.
Taught by actual product leaders and experienced product managers, Pragmatic Marketing’s training courses are not simply academic exercises in product theory. They teach using hands-on, real-world situations that you are likely to face as a product manager.
Moreover, Pragmatic Marketing teaches a comprehensive approach to product management, and their Pragmatic Marketing Framework teaches you how to gain a 360-degree understanding of your products. You’ll learn how to identify market problems, size up your company’s assets, and understand the competitive landscape. You won’t have to apply the strict Pragmatic Marketing Framework to your products, of course, but learning this proven approach will teach you a lot of valuable lessons that will serve you well in your product management career.
3. Join product management communities, like those on Slack and LinkedIn.
Online product management communities are another great source of product management training, learning, and even direct help with your real-world product management issues..
The Slack product community ProductManagerHQ, for example, offers an enormous library of resources and educational content for new and experienced PMs — blogs, interviews with product leaders, and even an introductory course called One Week PM. Their active online community can also help answer your product management questions.
Another great Slack product community is run by Product School. With nearly 50,000 members and weekly AMAs, the Slack community presents several opportunities for networking, educational content, and sharing ideas.
MindTheProduct is an online product community that hosts regular meetups and product management training sessions all over the world. Like ProductManagerHQ, their site is a rich source of educational resources from real-world, experienced PMs across all industries.
You can also join product management groups through LinkedIn, such as the Product Management Networking Group, where you can network with other PMs, ask questions and learn about trends in your industry.
And we also invite you to join our free product management Slack community, The Product Stack.
4. Learn disciplines that complement your role as a product manager — like development and entrepreneurship.
Because product management affects and is affected by a broad range of other disciplines across the organization, product management training should also include learning tangential disciplines and skills that can improve your ability to deliver successful products to market.
“Learn disciplines that complement your role as a product manager — like development and entrepreneurship.”
So why not learn about what it takes to be an entrepreneur? Understanding the issues and challenges business leaders face can help you better understand how your product’s priorities fit into the larger company picture. A search of the online learning site Lynda.com finds hundreds of video courses on entrepreneurship, leadership, and running a business.
5. Read the best product management blogs, newsletters and websites.
Product management insights are published on the web every day, so it’s also a smart idea to regularly visit the best sites delivering this content.
As we’ve written about in a post on finding a product management job, one of the first sites you should check out is the blog and resource page from Ken Norton, a former Google product executive who now works with Google’s investment company, where where he provides product and engineering support to more than 300 portfolio companies including Uber, Nest, and Slack..
Norton’s site is an ongoing gift to product managers, a steady stream of valuable new product management training content. You’ll want to sign up for Norton’s product management newsletter, too.
And we also invite you to check out our own resource pages as useful sources of ongoing product management training.
Our resources section, for example, offers a robust and always-growing library of educational material, from articles to videos — all covering various aspects of product management. At the ProductPlan blog, you will find several new posts each week on product management-related topics. And if you’re looking for guidance on the topic of product roadmaps, you can download our free product roadmap book for a thorough discussion of how to effectively build, prioritize and share your roadmaps.
Have additional ideas and resources for product management training? Please share them in the comments section below.