How to choose the best product management certification

Product managers are naturally curious. You want to learn everything you can about the market, customers, and competitors so you can stay ahead of customer needs and industry trends. You also want to stay current on evolving methodologies and technologies that might help you do your job better. Keeping your product management skills fresh is essential to continuously delivering value to your customers and organization.

Whether you are embarking on a career shift or aiming for a promotion, the right product management certification can help you build your skills and confidence. Today, product managers have a range of professional development options to choose from. Let's explore some of the top certifications for product managers so you can find the best one for you.

Earn a certification for product managers

Is a product management certification worth it?

Product management certifications benefit folks from all sorts of career backgrounds. If you found your way to product management from a prior role in engineering, project management, or even product marketing, it can be useful to ground yourself in the core concepts of the discipline. If you are starting fresh out of school in a product-centric role, a certification can enhance your resume. And even seasoned product managers may want a refresher on the fundamentals. An exceptional class and instructor can reinvigorate your enthusiasm for building lovable products.

Of course, product management certifications are not a replacement for hands-on experience. But they can supplement and solidify the lessons you learn on the job. Plus, you will probably discover a few new ideas to bring back to your teammates.

Benefits of certifications for product managers include:

  • Fundamental knowledge: As a product manager, you need to deeply understand product strategy, business models, market positioning, development methodologies, and other best practices that matter to daily work.

  • New perspectives: The discipline of product development is evolving quickly. Product management certifications can provide fresh insight into what the most successful organizations are doing to drive growth and meet customer needs.

  • Skill progression: Product management certifications can help you zero in on areas where you need to improve or gain confidence. The hours you dedicate to earning a certification will help you build a deeper knowledge of core product management concepts. Plus, if you are in an interactive class setting, connecting with other product leaders helps to expand your creative problem-solving abilities by introducing new viewpoints — there is collective power in learning together.

  • Career advancement: Maybe you are starting a new role or want to be more competitive as a job candidate. Earning a certification in product management shows your commitment to professional development. Leadership-focused courses can also help you learn the skills required to take on a people manager role.

Related: Transition to Product Management: Where Do PMs Come From?

What is the best product management certification?

Many certification pathways are available to product managers — and no two product managers have the same career goals or job responsibilities. Consider your learning objectives, the course curriculum, instructors, cost, and time investment before choosing the best product management certification for you.

You can find certifications geared towards specific product development methodologies such as agile, scrum, and the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe®). Some are also designed to help new product managers build product roadmaps. But the swath of offerings can get even more specific — for example, some certification classes show how to incorporate artificial intelligence in product management work.

In general, a good way to evaluate top product management certifications is by looking into who offers them:

Product management certifications offered by academic institutions

A number of academic institutions offer product management certifications through continuing studies programs. Some are specific to product management, while others are applicable to a wide range of product areas. These courses can be time-intensive and expensive but come with the guarantee of a highly reputable source.

(E.g., certifications offered by Cornell, Kellogg, Stanford, and UC Berkeley.)

Product management certifications offered by online learning platforms

Many online learning platforms provide free or paid product-focused certifications. This option is easily accessible and conveniently self-paced. However, the knowledge level of the instructors and the quality of the material in a free class may not be as robust or comprehensive as other options.

(E.g., certifications offered by Coursera, Audacity, and LinkedIn Learning.)

Product management certifications offered by industry-leading organizations

Successful technology organizations sometimes offer product management certifications taught by in-house experts. Attendees engage in immersive sessions, typically to learn product management best practices and how to use product management software.

(E.g., certifications offered by Aha! Academy)

An example of a certification for product managers offered by Aha! Academy

What should I look for in a product management certification?

You want to find a certification class that is appropriately challenging and aligned with your career goals. Even better, you want one that will be enjoyable to attend. The list of questions below will help you in your product management certification search — if you can answer yes to these questions, you have likely found a quality option that will elevate your skills and experience as a product manager.

  • Is the certification class led by product management experts at an accredited academic institution or respected organization?

  • Does the material cover product management fundamentals such as setting product strategy, roadmapping, feature prioritization, and measuring product success?

  • Will you have a chance to practice job-applicable skills in addition to learning product theory?

  • Does the class format (e.g, video tutorials, readings, quizzes, or live sessions) suit your learning needs?

  • Does the course align with your or your organization's preferred approach to building products (e.g., value-based product development, agile product management)?

  • Will you gain hands-on experience with software tools that product managers use?

  • Will earning the certification challenge you to learn something new and expand your product management expertise?

How to ask your employer to support your product management certification

Reputable, in-demand certification courses are priced competitively. If cost is an issue your employer may be able to reimburse you. Below is a template you can copy to request support — be sure to show that you have done your research on the class and explain how the company will benefit from your new learnings:

Hi [Manager],

I am thankful that our company culture encourages professional development. I found a highly respected course I would like to take that I believe will benefit our team.

I have researched [Academic institution or organization] and am interested in taking their course to earn my [Certification name]. Here are a few things I will learn that I can immediately bring to help support our goal of [goal description]:

  • XXX

  • XXX

  • XXX

The cost is [amount] and is held [dates].

Is this something I could pursue through our department?

Let me know if you have any questions or would like to discuss in more detail. I appreciate you supporting my growth at [Company] and being open to these types of opportunities.

Thanks in advance,

[Name]

Once you have chosen the product management certification that best fits your needs, set aside time to really dig in. Take notes and share your newfound knowledge with your teammates. There is something invigorating about being a student again and embracing new learnings.

If you are an Aha! Roadmaps user, you can get certified in our product management software via Aha! Academy. Join a public or private class to learn live from Aha! experts and bring new knowledge to your organization. You will learn how to:

  • Define and customize the right workflows for your team

  • Create the perfect roadmap for every audience

  • Report on your product and team's success, and more

Learn more about the Aha! Roadmaps professional certification.

Product managers really, really love our software — find out why with a free 30-day trial of Aha! Roadmaps.

Additional product management career guides

Product development dictionary