Curiosity may have killed the cat but makes a better Product Manager. True to this statement, I recently conducted a study on Product Management hiring in the US. We’ve all heard hand-wavy statements about Product Management growing, I was curious to know, ‘How much is it really growing? What’s actually responsible?’ I looked at publicly available data from Indeed and LinkedIn using the Wayback Machine and Google Search respectively to answer these questions and what I found out was pretty interesting as well as surprising.
Product Management roles in the US have grown an astounding 32% over just a ~2 year period from Aug 2017-Jun 2019.
What's driving growth in demand for Product Managers?
While, a lot of conversation around Product Management seems to center around ‘Big Tech’ firms, most of the growth in the demand has come from firms outside the traditional boundaries of ‘tech’. The top three factors driving increase in demand for Product Management professionals over the last 2 years have been:
- Strong growth in e-commerce roles, led by incumbents and the continued digital transformation of traditional brick and mortar retailers. Names with substantial growth include Amazon, Wayfair, Walmart and The Home Depot.
- Increase in financial sector roles led by banks and credit card companies with a push for new digital-first financial instruments. Notable examples include JP Morgan Chase, Capital One, Bank of America, Visa, MasterCard.
- Moves towards developing product practices by top services firms in the management consulting and financial advisory space. Think Big 4 Audit and Big 3 Management Consulting.
A micro-trend that is small as of this point but could become significant in the future is the rise of PM roles for ‘Abuse’ and ‘Privacy’ functions especially with products that attract a substantial amount of User Generated Content.
How does growth in Product Management hiring compare to other job roles?
This unprecedented rate of growth has seen Product Management outpace average job growth in the US by a 5X multiplier. Moreover, growth in demand for PMs has been substantially higher than that for Software Engineering roles as well.
On an absolute scale though, Software Engineering roles outnumber Product Management roles by a large margin. As of September 2019, there were 14 Software Engineering roles being hired for every PM job. Interestingly though, only 1 UX designer was being hired for every 2 Product Managers.
Dedicated UX designers for a product appear to still be a rarity. PMs at early-stage startups reported being expected to shoulder a substantial portion of UX responsibilities while those at large companies reported sharing UX resources between products or having a centralized UX function across the business unit.
What else do we know about PM hiring in the US?
My research also looked at top US cities for PM roles and contrary to popular expectation San Francisco Bay Area and New York are not the regions with the most growth in PM opportunities over the last 2 years. It also examined the number of hires made over the last 2 years for all PM positions right from entry-level Associate Product Manager roles to executive positions like Senior Vice Presidents of Product Management and Chief Product Officers.
If you would like to know the top cities for PMs as well as hiring patterns and career paths, please let me know in the comments' section on this LinkedIn post and I'll message / email you the full 17-page report.
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