Career Path Series

How to advance in the Product Management Career Path

Get to know the responsibilities of the most common job titles and how to jump to the next level.

Elena Calvillo
9 min readNov 16, 2023

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Product management is an exciting and rewarding field, offering individuals the opportunity to help define the vision for a company’s product portfolio and transform an idea into a product. But how can someone move up in the product management career? Let’s walk through the career ladders available in the product management field and discuss the various paths an individual can take to advance their career.

Before we step up on the ladder, keep in mind that there is a lack of consistency in the product management space with regards to maturity and experience level of product functions and product leaders.

To give you an idea, when I did my research I found out so many job titles and sometimes very unique depending on the company. Like the confusion about Principal PM and PM Lead or the typical Product Owner vs Product Manager. Just look at the following example from Levels FYI. Companies like Apple and Google have entry-level PM positions while others don’t.

Levels.fyi comparison of Product Management path in Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google and Microsoft

Despite the fact of many job positions and each company terminology, there’s a common ground to advance in this career. In this post, you’ll find a summary of the most common levels and how to jump to the next one.

The most popular tree of IC and management paths for Product Management jobs

Associate Product Manager (APM)

It’s noteworthy that not all organizations have the Associate Product Manager’s role as part of their product team structure, and not every company requires it.

Around the mid 2000s, companies like Google saw potential in Product Management positions so they decided to cultivate talent inside their organizations and created their own programs such as the Associate Product Management program. Nowadays, these programs are more focused on interns and graduates.

Duties and Responsibilities

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