PM career path | Compensation breakdown | PM salaries | Key factors
Product management is one of the hottest jobs, rising as one of the top 10 best jobs in America in 2022. At the same time, the product management role is relatively new, which means that salaries can range drastically. So how do we figure out which numbers are accurate?
Let’s dive into what your salary would look like as you progress as a PM, and what factors go into your total compensation.
Product managers create, develop, and launch new products in their company. It’s a job with a lot of responsibility, and the pay reflects that—at big tech companies, entry-level jobs start at 100k a year. PMs also have the potential to move up very high in the career ladder, all the way from entry level to director! To understand how this all works, let’s review the career ladder of a PM.
The exact titles can vary, but the career ladder for PMs typically follow this pattern: APM, PM, Senior PM, Group/Principal PM, Director, Senior Director/VP of PM.
Years of Experience: 0-3
Associate Product Manager programs are structured programs organized by big tech companies for early-career applicants. They’re held by big companies: think Google, Uber, Lyft, and Salesforce.
As an APM, you help more experienced product managers. APM programs last for a few years and typically lead to a PM role.
Years of experience: 1-3
Most companies look for applicants with a few years of industry experience in a related role, such as software engineering or business development. But there are more and more companies that are open to new graduates such as Microsoft, Spotify, and Adobe.
PMs are in charge of launching features and coordinating product roadmaps.
Years of experience: 3-6
Here the PM career path diverges into two paths: IC and management. Senior PMs are the highest level of individual contributors, and group PMs directly manage other PMs. Senior PMs progress towards Principal PMs, while Group PMs often rise to Director roles and beyond.
Years of experience: N/A
Principal PMs are the highest level on the individual contributor track. They are tasked with the hardest parts of product strategy and have a thorough understanding of their particular business and product.
Years of experience: N/A
Group PMs usually move up the management ladder to director roles. They take on higher responsibilities within the organization, such as managing multiple PM teams, multiple product lines, and representing the company externally.
It’s no secret that tech salaries are high—but the compensation itself can be broken down into several parts.
The base salary is a fixed amount that won’t be affected by the performance of the company or the employee.
Startups typically offer higher base salaries since their equity grants may not yet count as real cash.
There are two types of bonuses: a sign-on bonus and an annual bonus.
Signing bonuses are a one-time lump sum given at the beginning of a new job. They typically require that you stay with the company for a fixed amount of time. An annual bonus is a percentage of your base salary that can be affected by a few factors: level of seniority, employee performance, and company performance.
Tech jobs promise equity, which means a share of the company. Depending on the stage of the company, equity can be highly variable, and can have a huge impact on total compensation. Employees usually have to work at the company for a fixed amount of time before they can access their stocks—the stocks progressively vest over this time period.
Benefits don’t directly count in total compensation, but companies can also use generous benefit packages to stand out. These include 401(k) plans, health insurance, and life insurance. With the post-pandemic work environment, hybrid work models are also a plus. Tech companies also offer cool work perks, like free food and on-site gyms.
PM salaries vary widely based on company and industry, but we can break down some general ranges based on an employee’s stage in their career. We can assess the typical salaries for entry-level, mid-level, and senior level PM roles, with numbers taken from Glassdoor for the San Francisco area and highest company information from Levels.fyi.
Most Likely Salary range: $80k - $175k
Highest paying companies: Roblox, Datadog, Microsoft, Google, Linkedin, Atlassian
Most Likely Salary range: $140 - $250k
Highest paying companies: Lyft, Meta, Instacart, Amazon, Linkedin
Note: These numbers are highly variable based on company.
Most Likely Salary range: $300k+
Highest paying companies: Meta, Uber, Airbnb, Salesforce, Google
Now that you know the general ranges for a product management career path, let’s see how you can maximize your overall compensation.
💡 Shameless plug: Our PM interview drills can help
Now that you have an idea of the typical compensation for PM, it’s time to dive into prep for PM interviews. If you want to read more about the product management role, check out our PM Getting Started Guide. For advice on how to land your first product management interview, check out our Getting a PM Interview article.
Real interview questions. Sample answers from PM leaders at Google, Amazon and Facebook. Plus study sheets on key concepts.