Product Management Library of Knowledge
Product Manager Certification: What, Why, How
By Brian Lawley
Advancing your career by earning a Product Manager Certification can be a highly-effective strategy. This article discusses the benefits of certification and what you can expect to gain by becoming certified. It also discusses the options that are available so that you get the most benefit for the time and money you invest.
What is a Product Manager Certification?
According to Merriam Webster, certification is defined as "official approval to do something professionally or legally."
Extending this definition, we can then say that a Product Manager certification confers official approval to do Product Management professionally or legally.
But who confers this official approval? This is a key question to look at when you are trying to determine what your options are for getting certified and what will give you the most credibility.
The simple way to look at it is that there are two options:
1.) Obtaining a credential from a company that offers certifications covering only their own material.
Most Product Management certifications are offered by and administered through the training vendor themselves. These tend to be very simple multiple-choice tests that are taken right after a course is completed. The result is that virtually everyone passes, because the training company has a big incentive to make sure this happens.
The problem with this is that:
- Since the exams are so easy they really mean very little
- The certifications only cover the methodology and framework that the training vendor teaches
2.) Earning a well-respected credential from a highly-respected independent association that administers the exam independently of the companies that train you for it.
When choosing this approach, the exams are more difficult and cover a wider range of Product Management concepts, so certification credentials are far more meaningful and show that you really do have a deep understanding of your profession.
The only organization that offers a vendor-neutral credential in Product Management is the Association of International Product Marketing and Management. Formed in 1998, AIPMM is the world's largest association of Product Managers. They administer their exams under very strict and rigorous conditions to ensure that earning their credentials will be a highly-valuable achievement. Their exams are proctored, and each person agrees to a strict code of conduct in terms of taking the tests.
AIPMM offers several certifications, including the Certified Product Manager (CPM), Agile Certified Product Manager and Product Owner and Certified Product Marketing Manager (CPMM). All three are very valuable, and many Product Managers choose to get a combination or all of them.
What are the benefits of earning a Product Manager Certification?
In many ways it is no different from earning other types of certifications in your professional and personal life. They help you to build credibility with your peers and others and show proficiency. Other benefits include:
- Show mastery of core concepts and skills
- Advance your career more rapidly
- Increase credibility with your team
- Stand out from the crowd on your resume
How do I earn the certification credential(s)?
To earn the credential you must take a course that allows you to study the material and then take a corresponding exam. There are two options for studying the material:
1.) In-person preparation courses.
These are two days long and are led by an instructor who earned the Certified Product Manager credential and can teach you the core knowledge you need. The instructor can also give you tips and strategies for studying for and passing the exam.
Courses are offered in a variety of locations - click here for full details on the in-person Product Management Certification Courses.
2.) Self-study courses.
This allows you to study at your own pace, take sample exams as you go and you can optionally sign up to spend half an hour with an instructor prior to taking the exam. For students who are more remote and can't get to an in-person location this is a great option.
Click here to learn about the Product Management Certification Self-Study Course.
The bottom line
Earning a Product Manager Certification is a great way to increases your credibility and make a commitment to moving your career forward. Use it as a way to stand out from your peers and you'll find that it helps to open doors and new opportunities for you.