It’s hard to find stellar product managers. Due to that scarcity, employers are eager to attract product managers through generous compensation. The software product manager role commands high salaries, strong equity, excellent bonuses, and a powerful career track in tech. On top of that, they get to set the product vision, drive the roadmap, craft the product strategy, work alongside software engineers, and grow their product development teams to new heights.
But the question is, just how much does a product manager make?
Product management is highly contextual. Product manager salaries are highly contextual as well, because the value of the product manager to the employer depends heavily on the context for that role.
For example, some companies value technical product managers very highly, whereas other companies value business-oriented product managers very highly. Different companies will pay differently for different kinds of product managers.
So, here’s how to best determine a fair salary for the context that you’re in. Note that I’m not affiliated with any of the below companies – I’m simply sharing what’s worked for me.
How to Determine Market Compensation as a Product Manager
Glassdoor has powerful anonymous compensation analytics, so start there to build up your knowledge of product manager salaries.
The most important factor to account for is geography.
Why is that? First, geography significantly impacts the cost of living, and employers take cost of living into account. It’s not wise to use the national average, because each geography is so different from one another.
For example, a product manager at Google or Amazon or Salesforce might make a hefty sum in San Francisco, but they might not make as much in some other geography.
Second, demand for product managers differs from geography to geography, and each local geography values product managers differently.
As an example, here’s the distribution of product manager salaries in San Francisco, CA:
Here’s the distribution of product manager salaries in Denver, CO:
Here’s the distribution of product manager salaries in New York, NY:
Here’s the distribution of product manager salaries in Seattle, WA:
Here’s the distribution of product manager salaries in Los Angeles, CA:
And, outside the United States, here’s the distribution of product manager salaries in London, England:
Here’s the distribution of salaries in Toronto, Canada:
And here’s the distribution of salaries in Bangalore, India:
Once you’ve selected a geography to focus on, layer in other factors such as the industry that you’re targeting, the size of the company that you’re targeting, and your years of experience.
For example, here’s a view that would be relevant to someone who works in fintech in San Francisco:
Another thing to keep in mind is that every company assesses the seniority of product managers differently, and that each company has a different philosophy when it comes to compensating for seniority.
Therefore, it’s helpful to dive into results at different levels of seniority. For example, you’ll want to look at the average salary for an associate product manager, a product manager, a senior product manager, and a director of product management. That way, you’ll get a strong grasp of compensation trajectory and how that correlates with your job title.
Here’s a view of different levels of seniority in San Francisco:
One thing to keep in mind – it can be different to understand what compensation for chief product officers (a.k.a. CPO) look like. It’s hard to know their average base salary because there aren’t as many chief product officers as there are product managers.
Another great resource to use is LinkedIn Salary. Here’s what it looks like:
Again, use the breakdowns that I’ve mentioned above to get a good sense of relevant product manager salary ranges:
- Years of experience
LinkedIn has uniquely insightful cuts of average product manager salary data – for example, it provides a view into how company size, industry, education level, and field of study impacts pay for product managers.
A word of caution: the “education level” cut can sometimes be misleading. There are far more MBAs in product than there are JDs or MDs, and LinkedIn doesn’t report on bachelor’s degrees.
For context, in all of the organizations that I’ve previously worked in, the vast majority of product managers had bachelor’s degrees.
One other resource I like to rely on is AngelList, since it enables you to cross-reference compensation for open product manager roles. AngelList is unique in that it provides a view into both salary and stock options, so it’s a better proxy for total compensation.
Here’s the salary distribution for San Francisco product managers on AngelList:
And here’s the equity distribution for San Francisco product managers on AngelList:
Company-Specific Compensation for Product Managers
One thing to note is that product managers are compensated differently from organization to organization, even within the same market. That means you’ll have to do deeper research to understand what’s fair for the particular role and employer that you’re targeting.
Using the above resources – Glassdoor, LinkedIn, and AngelList – filter down to the company that you’re targeting. That filter will provide you a much clearer view of what sort of compensation you can expect for that specific employer.
Breaking into Product
Is your goal to break into product for the first time? Check out these resources for how to shift into product management.
- How I became a product manager
- Entry-level product management
- How to write a unique product manager resume
- Getting the attention of a hiring manager
- Preparing for the product manager interview
Negotiating for More Compensation
Is your goal to ask for more compensation from your current role? Consider these resources:
- How to Negotiate Your Salary (Glassdoor)
- 3 Winning Strategies for Negotiating Salary (Harvard Law School)
- Ten Things Not to Say in a Salary Negotiation (Forbes)
Curious about related roles? Check out these resources to learn more:
Have thoughts that you'd like to contribute around product manager salaries? Chat with other product managers around the world in our PMHQ Community!