Great products are the heartbeat of any successful SaaS business, which is why Product Managers are in high demand today.

Product Managers can come in many forms, ranging from Generalist PMs to Growth PMs to Technical PMs and even Platform PMs. Different companies seem to require PMs with slightly different skills and expertise.

With so many job titles in the market, which types of Product Managers are in demand right now?

Product manager job description | Product management memes | Product manager roles | Generalist PM| Technical PM | New Venture PM | Growth PM | Domain PM | Product Manager Salary | Career Progression | Product Dave | Productdave |

In this article, I will outline the five different types of PMs in the job market in this post-pandemic job market. So you can:

  • Check out which experience and skills you already have
  • Which PM role suits your background the most
  • Anticipate the challenges encountered by different kinds of PM
  • See the different salary expectations for each role

Without further ado, let’s begin.

The Generalist PM is the most common role in the job market. This type of PM generally juggles discovery, delivery and market adoption at the same time. As a result, they need to be well-rounded in multiple disciplines and have a large set of stakeholders to nurture.

Product manager job description | Product management memes | Product manager roles | Generalist PM| Technical PM | New Venture PM | Growth PM | Domain PM | Product Manager Salary | Career Progression | Product Dave | Productdave |
Generalist PM: “Jack of all trades, and a master of none; But often, better than a team of one.”

This role is usually best for those with the following background:

  • Business Analysts / Marketing / Project / Customer Success / Sales / Design / Engineering / Product Owners

From my perspective, a great Generalist PM should be well balanced across all areas with an emphasis on Product Discovery and Product Strategy.

Product manager job description | Product management memes | Product manager roles | Generalist PM| Technical PM | New Venture PM | Growth PM | Domain PM | Product Manager Salary | Career Progression | Product Dave | Productdave |

Challenges usually encountered by the Generalist PM:

  • Given the narrow focus, a Generalist PM will need to constantly sync up with other PMs to avoid losing sight of the bigger picture.
  • Given their flexibility to apply themselves in various areas, a junior PM might easily get overwhelmed with taking on too much.
  • The generalist PM role may also change during a business restructuring or a shift in company strategy.

Look out for the highlighted areas in a job description to identify a Generalist PM role:

Product manager job description | Product management memes | Product manager roles | Generalist PM| Technical PM | New Venture PM | Growth PM | Domain PM | Product Manager Salary | Career Progression | Product Dave | Productdave |

See these job descriptions:

Average salary: According to Glassdoor, the average is around $138,000 USD which is reasonable from my experience. (NB. This is the US rate so the actual salary might differ in your country.)

The New Venture Product Manager owns the discovery and launch of a new product. They are the closest thing to a “mini-CEO”, which entails a lot of vision setting and influencing various disparate stakeholders.

New Venture PMs are masters at discovering new products and are highly skilled in product strategy and influence. Their day-to-day involves enormous customer and market research whilst delivering a product strategy.

Product manager job description | Product management memes | Product manager roles | Generalist PM| Technical PM | New Venture PM | Growth PM | Domain PM | Product Manager Salary | Career Progression | Product Dave | Productdave |
New Venture PM: “If you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.”

This role is usually best for those with the following background:

  • Ex-Agency / Consulting / Entrepreneurs / General Manager / Freelancers

For me, this type of Product Manager is the most difficult, given the unknown terrain of developing a new product. The New Venture PM thrives with creation and ambiguity and then adapts to surprises (or fire fighting, if needed). They need strong skills in Product Discovery and Strategy, with less emphasis on managing external customers (until the product is in market)

Product manager job description | Product management memes | Product manager roles | Generalist PM| Technical PM | New Venture PM | Growth PM | Domain PM | Product Manager Salary | Career Progression | Product Dave | Productdave |

Challenges usually encountered by the New Venture PM: The role can be vague and, if not careful, can lack a clear direction. New Venture PMs need to take a pragmatic stance on delivering incremental value. This approach might be counter-intuitive for companies that want to do big launches. Key challenges for this PM include:

  • Managing lots of stakeholder ideas and opinions on a new that’s still unknown to everyone
  • Exerting a high level of influence. Persuasion is second nature to the New Venture PM
  • Taking people on the journey, and wearing many hats to get the product out the door.

Look out for the highlighted areas in a job description to identify a New Venture PM role:

Product manager job description | Product management memes | Product manager roles | Generalist PM| Technical PM | New Venture PM | Growth PM | Domain PM | Product Manager Salary | Career Progression | Product Dave | Productdave |

See these job descriptions:

Average salary: Average salary is similar to the Generalist PM at around $138,000 USD, according to Glassdoor.

As the title suggests, Platform PMs work on platform features that serve internal and external customers. They make high-impact product decisions that focus on the platform’s scale, reliability, security and cost efficiencies. Given the importance of this role, this role will always be in demand no matter what happens in the future.

Product manager job description | Product management memes | Product manager roles | Generalist PM| Technical PM | New Venture PM | Growth PM | Domain PM | Product Manager Salary | Career Progression | Product Dave | Productdave |
Product manager job description | Product management memes | Product manager roles | Generalist PM| Technical PM | New Venture PM | Growth PM | Domain PM | Product Manager Salary | Career Progression | Product Dave | Productdave |
Platform PM: “Not all heroes wear a cape…”

This role is usually best for those with the following background:

  • Software Engineering / Technical Business Analysts

From my perspective, the Platform PMs often require a high level of technical understanding. They don’t necessarily need strong coding skills, but they must understand technical architectures, code bases, integrations, databases, and engineering practices.

Product manager job description | Product management memes | Product manager roles | Generalist PM| Technical PM | New Venture PM | Growth PM | Domain PM | Product Manager Salary | Career Progression | Product Dave | Productdave |

Challenges usually encountered by the Platform PM:

Even though the Platform PM holds the lifeline of a product, the role is not as shiny as, say, the New Venture PM. But not all heroes wear a cape, and not everyone wants to be the centre of attention. Some are challenges you might come across are:

  • It’s sometimes hard to justify technical platform features in terms of direct commercial impact.
  • Platform PMs have to constantly go back to first principles and don’t get overwhelmed by all the tech jargon.
  • The Platform PM might have to be ‘on-call’ during outages and operational issues.
  • The Platform might be a bottleneck to a few Product Teams if priorities are not managed well

Look out for the highlighted areas in a job description to identify a Platform PM role:

Product manager job description | Product management memes | Product manager roles | Generalist PM| Technical PM | New Venture PM | Growth PM | Domain PM | Product Manager Salary | Career Progression | Product Dave | Productdave |

Example job descriptions:

Average salary: Given the niche nature of this role, the average salary is slightly higher at $140,000 USD, according to Glassdoor.

The Domain Knowledge Product Manager requires deep domain knowledge in one area — for example, AI, Payments, eCommerce, Mobile apps, etc.
Being the subject matter expert, they are the centre of attention for their domain area.

The PM spends much of their time educating stakeholders, debunking internal misconceptions, and simplifying complex features into simple milestones. They are also involved in almost all the steps of the product life cycle.

Product manager job description | Product management memes | Product manager roles | Generalist PM| Technical PM | New Venture PM | Growth PM | Domain PM | Product Manager Salary | Career Progression | Product Dave | Productdave |
Domain Knowledge PM: “Substance, over optics”

This role is usually best for those with the following background:

  • Generalist PM / Entrepreneurs / Researchers / Software Engineers / Designers / Customer Success / Marketing / Sales

From my perspective, the expertise level of the Domain PM would look like this:

Product manager job description | Product management memes | Product manager roles | Generalist PM| Technical PM | New Venture PM | Growth PM | Domain PM | Product Manager Salary | Career Progression | Product Dave | Productdave |

Challenges usually encountered by the Domain Knowledge PM:

The Domain Knowledge PM is a high-pressure role as this PM can be the sole point of success and the sole point of failure (Ouch!). At times, the challenges this role will encounter are:

  • Lots of education for internal stakeholders to understand your domain
  • Hard to find designers and engineers that understand the context
  • Lots of documentation to transfer your knowledge to the rest of the business

Look out for the highlighted areas in a job description to identify a Domain Knowledge PM role:

Product manager job description | Product management memes | Product manager roles | Generalist PM| Technical PM | New Venture PM | Growth PM | Domain PM | Product Manager Salary | Career Progression | Product Dave | Productdave |

See these job descriptions:

Average salary: The average salary can vary depending on the niche of the role. According to Glassdoor, it starts from $138,000 USD to $180,000 USD.

The Growth-Focused Product Manager has the most direct commercial impact, more than other roles. A Growth PM works closely with the Growth team and other Product Managers to build growth flywheels to drive acquisition, activation, retention, revenue, and referrals for their product.

Growth Focused PMs tend to have the widest spread of responsibility. They need to be across multiple products and tackle problems with different domain contexts. It’s perfect for commercial-minded people who can deal with a high level of uncertainty.

This role is usually best for those with the following background:

  • Growth Hackers / Marketers / Ex-Entrepreneurs / Consulting / Sales / General Manager / Engineering / UX Designers

From my perspective, the Growth PM needs to be extremely strong in Growth and Marketing so they can use Products to drive differentiation in the market. Here are some key areas they should be good at:

Product manager job description | Product management memes | Product manager roles | Generalist PM| Technical PM | New Venture PM | Growth PM | Domain PM | Product Manager Salary | Career Progression | Product Dave | Productdave |

Challenges usually encountered by the Growth PM: As growth sits across all domains, their boundaries are often blurred and overlap projects with other teams. As a result, negotiations on domain boundaries are often a conversation topic with other PMs. Some key challenges are:

  • Domain boundaries are often blurred, and ongoing ownership of features requires negotiations
  • The role can be ambiguous in small and medium-sized companies
  • A relatively new position, so the responsibilities can vary across different companies.

Look out for the highlighted areas in a job description to identify a Growth PM role:

Product manager job description | Product management memes | Product manager roles | Generalist PM| Technical PM | New Venture PM | Growth PM | Domain PM | Product Manager Salary | Career Progression | Product Dave | Productdave |

See these job descriptions:

Average salary: Average salary is similar to other PM roles at around $139,000 USD, according to Glassdoor.

Refer to this guide to see which role fits you best. Don’t go for the titles, but look for the roles that align with your interest and long-term career goals. Remember to give yourself time to evolve into the Product Manager you want to be.

Product manager job description | Product management memes | Product manager roles | Generalist PM| Technical PM | New Venture PM | Growth PM | Domain PM | Product Manager Salary | Career Progression | Product Dave | Productdave |

Like Warren Buffet said: “If you love what you do, you won’t work for a day in your life.”

If you need help mapping out your evolution to be a Product Manager, you can also check out my blog post here: How to Break into Product Management.



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