What Is the Difference Between a Project Manager and Product Manager?

Although the names sound similar, the roles of project manager and product manager are not the same. The University of South Carolina Aiken (USC Aiken) online Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a Specialization in Project Management program prepares graduates for several top business roles.

Two of these business roles include careers in project management or product management. Learn the responsibilities and duties of each role, salary differences and which one you’d like to pursue with an online MBA degree.

What Is a Project Manager?

A project manager is responsible for leading a team to complete a project from start to finish. Project managers use top communication, organization, decision-making and problem-solving skills to delegate tasks, meet deadlines and remain within budget.

Common responsibilities of a project manager include:

  • Organizing a team
  • Planning the project
  • Creating a schedule and timeline
  • Ensuring each phase of the project is completed
  • Managing the project budget
  • Communicating among all project stakeholders
  • Troubleshooting and maintenance

If you’re looking to pursue a career as a project manager, then the future looks optimistic for job opportunities. The Project Management Institute’s most recent Talent Gap report illustrates the continued need to fill project management roles. According to the report, the global economy needs an additional 25 million project-management employees by 2030.

What Is a Product Manager?

A product manager oversees every aspect of a product life cycle, from development to release. They ensure the product meets customers’ needs and reaches sales goals. Product managers use team coordination, strong communication and risk management skills to build a successful product management career.

Common responsibilities of a product manager include:

  • Developing product vision and strategy
  • Conducting market research and analysis
  • Defining development goals and outlining steps to completion
  • Overseeing beta testing and responding to feedback
  • Ensuring sales and marketing teams are prepared
  • Monitoring product performance after launch

As more products are created and launched, the career outlook for product management professionals remains positive. A recent report on the future of product management illustrates the growth of product management roles, with over 43% of companies onboarding more product managers to their product teams.

Product Manager vs. Project Manager Salary

Both a product manager and a project manager benefit from higher salaries. According to Indeed, the average base salary for a product manager in the U.S. is $116,555. The product manager’s average base salary is less than this, with an average of $87,677.

However, these average salaries depend on years of experience, education level, the type of organization and location. Both roles may share other common benefits in addition to pay, such as a 401(k), health insurance, flexible schedule, retirement plans, tuition reimbursement, paid time off, and paid sick leave.

Pursue a Career in Management With an Online MBA Degree

Whether you want to be a project manager or a product manager, USC Aiken’s online MBA in Project Management program equips graduates for success in both roles. This flexible MBA program allows you to learn from the comfort of your home without sacrificing the quality of your education.

You can earn your MBA degree in as few as 10 months while directly applying what you learn to your current role. Not only will you learn specifically about project management and product management in the coursework, but you’ll also learn critical business foundation knowledge for today’s business world.

Learn more about the University of South Carolina Aiken’s online MBA with a Specialization in Project Management program.

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