How do I choose the best product management certification?
Product managers are naturally curious. You want to learn everything you can about the market, customers, and alternative solutions — so you can deliver the best possible product. You also want to stay current on evolving methodologies, technologies, and techniques 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 into product management or aiming for a promotion, the right class can help you build your skills and confidence. And as the field of product management has matured so have the educational options. These days you have a range of professional development classes to choose from. Let's explore some of the top classes so you can find the right fit.
What are the benefits of product management classes?
Product managers come from all sorts of 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. 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, classes 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 taking a class 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 you can apply to daily work.
New perspectives: The product management discipline is evolving quickly. Classes can provide a fresh take on what the most successful organizations are doing to meet customer needs.
Skill progression: Look for classes that zero in on an area where you need to improve or gain confidence. Connect with other product leaders in the class and expand your creative problem-solving abilities by understanding 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. Taking a class shows your commitment to professional development. Leadership-focused courses can also help you learn the skills required to take on a management role.
What are the top product management classes?
There are many learning pathways available to product managers — many more than even a few years ago. Consider the course curriculum, instructors, cost, and time investment before choosing the class that is right for you.
You can find classes geared towards specific product development methodologies such as agile, scrum, and the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe®). There are classes designed to help new product managers build their first product roadmaps. But the swath of offerings can get even more specific — for example, there are even classes for incorporating artificial intelligence in product management work.
Aha! Academy offers a two-day Product Management certification taught by product experts. Attendees engage in immersive sessions, learning how to build lovable products and successfully bring those products to market. Coursework includes sections on how to set product goals and initiatives, understand what customers really want, create the perfect roadmap, and report on key performance indicators.
A number of academic institutions, including Cornell, Kellogg, Stanford, and UC Berkeley, offer product management courses through continuing studies programs. Some are specific to product management, while others are applicable to a wide range of roles. You can also typically find free product-focused courses on sites like Coursera, Audacity, and LinkedIn Learning too. However, the knowledge level of the instructors and quality of the material in a free class are not likely to be as robust as a comprehensive course like the ones offered by universities or product experts like Aha!
What should I look for in a product management course?
You want to find a class that is appropriately challenging. Even better, you want one that will be enjoyable to attend. We compiled a list of questions that are most important for your product management training search — if you can answer yes to these, you have likely found a quality class that will bring your skills to the next level.
Is the class led by product management experts at an accredited academic institution or respected organization?
Does the class cover product management fundamentals such as roadmap planning, feature prioritization, and defining and tracking success metrics?
Will you have a chance to practice job-applicable skills in addition to learning product theory?
Does the class format (for example, readings, quizzes, or live sessions) suit your learning needs?
Does the course align with your own philosophy on product management (ex. building Minimum Lovable Products vs. Minimum Viable Products)?
Will you gain hands-on experience with software tools that product managers use?
How to ask your employer to support your education
Reputable, in-demand 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:
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 [name of academic institution or organization] and am interested in taking their [name and online link]. Here are a few things I will learn that I can immediately bring to help support our goal of [goal]:
The cost is [current cost] 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 name] and being open to these types of opportunities.
Thanks in advance,
Choose the course that best fits your needs and 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.