“Hard” Skills to learn to be a PM (no CS degree)

Google seOC71
Jun 6 9 Comments

I’m interested in becoming a Product Manager, but do not have a CS degree and don’t want to go back to school (I’m happy to self study/take workshops though). What are the “hard” technical skills I should focus on learning? Specifically focused examples (not just data analysis or systems architecture, etc.).

Edit for clarification: I'm much more confident in my communication and other "soft" skills required of good PMs, but since most companies require (or at least encourage) a CS degree, my goal is to understand where foundational knowledge would reduce inefficiencies in communication with eng/design.

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TOP 9 Comments
  • Google / Product shellcrot
    SQL on complex logs (non-flat). Basics of submitting CLs so that you can change config files and whatnot if needed. Making shitty PM mocks. Honestly there's a huge difference between what would help for your SWE interview vs what would actually help you be a better PM
    Jun 6 1
    • Google seOC71
      OP
      Thanks! Yeah, that really does seem to be the case. I feel much more confident in my communication skills and my ability to prioritize competing requests/put the user first, etc -- but a lack of technical knowledge seems to be holding me back. So I'm trying to identify areas where I can focus on learning foundational principles to build on.

      Thank you for this!
      Jun 6
  • Samsung
    chajimogo

    Samsung

    BIO
    Stressed out but surviving
    chajimogomore
    As a prod mgr without a cs degree I actually try to steer ppl away from it. It’s more often than not a thankless job where you get blamed if deliverables fail to hit their projections and everyone else gets the credit if they do.

    If you really want to be a good at it though you will want to assume domain expertise in one area (ie mobile apps, AI, or AR platform) then make sure you can communicate new ideas that you can incorporate on how you can build a new product in that area, or worst case make an existing one better.

    If you can code great, but you would want to know how to run SQL statements against a data repository to build your own user funnels or your own analysis as some companies in my experience ask for that expertise. Build your own crappy mocks using balsamiq for example, and know how to identify customer segments and build use cases for them.
    Jun 6 2
    • Google seOC71
      OP
      Thanks for taking the time for this long response -- would love to hear about your career path, and appreciate the words of advice. Currently working on SQL 👍🏼
      Jun 6
    • Samsung
      chajimogo

      Samsung

      BIO
      Stressed out but surviving
      chajimogomore
      My pleasure. Again really talk to PMs and see whether you really want to do it. I did it primarily because I have been away from coding for more than 13 years and I didn’t want to be a tech program mgr anymore. Besides there are 10 x more dev jobs for each pm.
      Jun 6
  • Amazon / Product ehensudie
    SQL / Visualization Tools is a bonus.
    No CS degree required afaik.

    You mainly need experience in the domain, before you can work as a PM. My path was to join the Analytics domain in my field, understand all the details and move to PM.
    Jun 9 0
  • Facebook / Ops ewQj67
    PM is all about influencing people and managing communication. You don't seem to be on the right track to become a PM.
    Jun 6 0
  • Amazon jvdzhjfsc
    MBA
    Jun 6 0
  • Roku
    nutcra

    Roku

    PRE
    Yahoo
    nutcramore
    You are not becoming PM, the fact that you don’t even know the skills you need proves that.
    Jun 6 0