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Paul McAvinchey
Co-founder of Product Collective
Asked a question last year

I want to get started in Product Management. Do I need to come from an engineering background?

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Amber Britton
Senior Product Manager

No way! For some reason, a lot of PM job descriptions say they require a degree in Computer Science or Engineering or some other intimidating field. But I don't think that's really necessary.

I come from a Customer Success/Account Management background with a degree in Business. I think that type of background really makes you a better PM. You tend to know the users more - how they think and interact with the product. You tend to know common pitfalls and successes - all the gotcha's and workarounds. You also tend to know a lot of people across the org (or the types of people you need to know) that will help make you successful. 

Don't be intimidated by those technical background requirements. Be able to speak the language, be curious, and you'll be fine.

No.

There are plenty of product people who come from customer facing background and are able to use that experience working with customers and supporting a product to pivot into a product role. In fact, I would argue that coming from a customer facing role provides you an advantage in some capacities.

That said, one of the challenges I often see for non technical people coming into a product role is developing extreme curiosity. Curiosity is a trait that many engineers naturally have as they are for the most part problem solving while building. Curiosity will take you a long way in a product role and becomes more important as you grow into more senior positions. 

Ant Murphy
Product Coach and Consultant | Occasional Cat Herder 🐈

As others have said. Definitely not. 

I have friends who are amazing Product Managers who used to be a teacher, a psychologist, in the military, etc - all kinds of backgrounds. 

In fact, I'd argue that not having an engineering background might make you a better Product Manager73.

Having an engineering background is great to help understand the technical constraints/details of a product, but equally Product Management is so much more than just the tech. It's marketing, behavioral economics, user science, leadership, strategy, sales, negotiation, etc. Thus coming from a varied background will no doubt give you advantages in other aspects of Product Management. 

Further having a deep background in any field (engineering included) is a double edge sword in Product Management as, "when all you have is a hammer everything looks like a nail" - in other words there is always a trap of falling too deep into the details of your domain expertise. 

Someone with an engineering background could get too deep into the execution and technical implementation and forget to validate that the problem actually exists or is the right problem to solve - or ship something to market without considering the market-facing aspects of go-to-market plans.

Pros and cons to all kinds of backgrounds but the role of Product Management is not just a technical one, in fact the engineering component is but a small part of what t means to be a PM.

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