Is formal product management training worth it? If so, from who?

Is going to a product school or getting other product management training worth the investment? Please share reviews of your own experience.

12 Replies

Yes, if your goal is to become a product manager.

I am the Founder of Product School. We offer part-time product management courses in San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Los Angeles and New York. You can take a look at our student reviews here: What is your review of Product School?

Before Product School, I was the Lead Instructor of General Assembly's product management course in San Francisco. You can take a look at their student reviews here: How good is General Assembly's product management course?

These are the 5 main things I decided to do different at Product School:

  1. Class size: When I was an instructor at GA, my class had 25 students. That's a lot of people and it makes very hard for instructors to spend enough time with each of the students. At PS, our classes are intentionally for up to 14 students, so you get to spend as much time as necessary with your instructors in order to speed up your learning process.
  2. Students experience: GA accepts anyone willing to pay. I had students with good experience, and at the same time I had too many fresh grads with very little experience. The problem is that you can't teach management to someone who doesn't have enough experience on the ground because when you have to explain advanced concepts, the people without experience get lost, and the people with experience get bored. At PS we follow an application process to ensure we only accept students with at least 5 years of professional experience and clear commitment to get a job in product management, so we can spend more time on the stuff that matters.
  3. Career support: GA doesn't provide career support to students in their part-time courses. They only do it for the students in their full-time courses, which cost $10,000+ and require students to not be able to work during almost 3 months. Since our classes are smaller and we make sure all of our students have professional experience, we can allocate 2 weeks to review resumes, practices mock interviews and review each of the student’s job search strategy in order to maximize their changes of getting a job in product.
  4. Course curriculum: We are 100% focused on teaching product management and treat the course curriculum as our own product. We take feedback and iterate it every quarter to make sure we are always up to date.
  5. Instructors: All of our instructors are senior-level PMs at top companies such as Google, Facebook, Lyft, Paypal and other startups. It’s key for us that instructors have full-time jobs and decide teach on the side because they want to give back to the community, not because they need another job.

I have also written about what makes us different from traditional universities such as UC Berkeley and Stanford. Read here: What courses can I take at Berkeley or Stanford that will help me move into product management?

The truth is that the quality of each course relies heavily on the quality of the instructor so make sure you get to know who is going to teach your course and what previous students say about the instructor. Specifically for PM courses, you want to learn from a Product Manager who is doing it now - e.g. Senior PM with at least 5 years of experience managing software products at large and small company.

I have put all my product management team through formal product management training from Pragmatic Marketing. And, yes, it was worth it. We now all share a common vocabulary and have access to and use some great product management tools.

We've done the same - Pragmatic Marketing training for our team, and I completely agreed. Worth it. I refer to the Alumni resources regularly. I've done the first two(day) courses and hope to continue this year as well.

We've had good luck with Pragmatic Marketing certification program for our PM, BA, SME, and Marketing teams. Helps if Exec's get the half day intro/overview and buy in to support the market driven approach.

Product Management is combination of art and science. You should have love for that art first and slowly steadily you can acquire science. Now if you have art as you have as you have started inquiring first be very sure

1. Why product mangement is right fit for me.

2.What's your vision. Create your vision board.

3. Look for bright side and not sogood, bad and ugly.

4. There are many open source on starting your project management journey. Read it create a draft or your personal Kanban board. Do analysis and prioritization of your thoughts..

After a week if you are excited, thrilled and feel passionate about it go for a certification but don't forget to ask "WHY I should do this? What is the value that I will get? How will it be helpful? " because it's now your vision....

Good luck for your journey.

I think it is. The amount of the information about PM's role and skills (web, books etc.) is not limited and is often available for free. But to understand what is really relevant it's good to have somebody to explain. Also from ''knowing'' how to do things in theory might not lead to proper actions. A training course including theory, hands-on exercises and tools is highly recommended. You may also participate community events like ProductCamp to learn what others have done.

Depends on your learning style and also the stage your at, but generally as good as formal training is, I'd prefer to work with someone with demonstrated experience delivering and getting stuff done over someone that only has done some formal PM training.

Are you building a product or process? If the former, no, if the latter, yes.

I had responded to this question with an article aptly titled "Product Management Training – An Overview and Is It Worth It?".

It depends upon what competencies you want to learn. And you need to learn not only "what" needs to be done but also "how". In the writing of my upcoming Wiley books "Foundations in the Successful Managment of Products" I have identified and teach over 130 compentencies needed for product management and product marketing management. A high level version of this is available online at Udemy. Also, watch for "Building Insanely Great Products" coming soon on Amazon.

It depends. In my career, I have seen so many changes. I have started as a web developer which has given me an understanding of web development then i moved to SEO, marketing which has given me a full understanding of Marketing, UX and user behaviour. Now I am working as a project manager. Due to my in-depth knowledge of multiple disciplines, My organization has given me extra responsibility related to product development. 

Best person as a product manager is one who does not identify himself with particular skill and ready to understand the different dimension of product, project and technology.

I have seen people who do the work whatever assigned and never try to ask the question to himself why we are developing a particular product and services.

If a person starts asking the question to himself why he is doing the particular functionality or project, he may be able to change himself as a product manager.

I know this thread is 3 years old, but I want to share some insights in case anyone else looks at it.

To answer your question, yes, formal product management training is worth it. Even though I haven't interviewed for any PM positions yet, several of my friends have. None of them got offers, and they all regret not investing a couple hundred dollars to give them the edge. Depending on your timeline and schedule, I recommend one of these 2 options:

#1: Product School

Pros:

  • Highly personalized (class size at most 14 students)
  • Career Services
  • Engage with other students at similar skill levels, so you all learn together
  • Network and learn from your instructors, most of whom are senior PMs at vaunted companies (like Paypal)
  • They keep their curriculum as up-to-date as possible, so they care alot about your student experience and especially your job outcomes

Cons:

#2: ProductTrain

Pros:

  • Entirely based on 1-on-1 learning, between client and coach
  • Coach plans his/her own curriculum for the student, highly personalized
  • Develop close relationship with your coach, who can refer you or connect you with other PMs
  • Pay-per-hour or through Income Sharing Agreements - you pay only if you get a PM job within 6 months of finishing your coach's training program

Cons

  • Entirely virtual (All sessions take place through video chat)
  • New to the market, so no reviews