Should You Start Your Career as a Product Manager or Associate Product Manager?

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Choosing between the role of an Associate Product Manager (APM) and a Product Manager (PM) can be a challenging decision. It involves evaluating your skills, experience, and job opportunities to make the right choice. If you’re facing this dilemma or curious about the decision-making process, this podcast is for you. I’m Sachin Sharma, with over 10 years of experience in product management and having mentored more than 1,000 aspiring product managers. Today, I’ll guide you on how to decide between these two roles.

Associate Product Manager vs. Product Manager:
Associate Product Manager is an entry-level position, while with experience, you can progress to become a Product Manager. In a previous podcast, I discussed the day-to-day responsibilities of various product management roles, from APM to Chief Product Officer. I recommend referring to that for a more comprehensive understanding. When making your choice between APM and PM roles, consider the following points:

  1. Number of Years of Experience:
    • If you lack knowledge about product management, have limited work history, or consider yourself relatively inexperienced, starting as an APM can be a wise choice.
    • Experience doesn’t necessarily mean having worked in a specific product management role for a set number of years. Roles like sales, marketing, team leadership, or college experiences can provide valuable skills relevant to product management.
  2. Your Resume:
    • If your resume doesn’t reflect a strong fit for a PM role, starting as an APM allows you to build relevant skills and knowledge while being guided by mentors.
    • Gain experience, build a robust portfolio, and strengthen your product-related expertise before transitioning to a PM role, which is often more demanding.
  3. Salary Bracket:
    • Assess your current salary bracket. If you’re earning above 15 lakhs per annum, targeting a PM role directly may be more financially rewarding.
    • APM roles typically offer lower salaries, although some companies provide competitive packages, reaching up to 25-26 lakhs per annum.

Remember that no one has a perfect resume or all the required skills from the start. What matters is your willingness and ability to perform the job effectively. It’s essential to choose a role that aligns with your skills and experience while considering your financial goals.

Selecting between an Associate Product Manager role and a Product Manager role involves assessing your skills, experience, and current salary bracket. Starting as an APM can be a valuable stepping stone, allowing you to build the necessary expertise before progressing to a PM role. Ensure that your choice aligns with your career goals and aspirations.

To further enhance your product management skills, consider joining my community by participating in my free training at For existing community members, upgrading to the Diamond membership can fast-track your product management journey and connect you with fellow action takers. 

Best of luck, take care, and stay tuned for more informative content in future podcasts. Thank you.

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