GUIDE 2023

How to Become a Data Product Manager Without Experience

Do you want to become a data product manager? This guide covers everything you need to know.

As the world moves towards a data-driven economy, businesses are keen on data trends and hiring people who know the ins and outs of data.

Big data analytics is a growing global market expected to reach $550 billion by 2028. With more digital and data-driven products, the demand for traditional product managers is now shifting from sales teams to data product managers.

If you want to become a data product manager, this guide is for you. In it, we break down the step-by-step approach you must follow to land this job, even if you don’t have any working experience in the field.

To learn more via video, watch below. Otherwise, skip ahead.

Steps to Become a Data Product Manager With Zero Experience

You don’t need relevant experience to become a data PM. Here is a process on how to become a data product manager:

1. Learn the Baics of Data Science and Data Analysis

The first step is learning the basics of data and data products. The more you study, the better.

It is a technical role that requires an understanding of data science, data engineering, data management, the product management process, development, UX, business intelligence, and much more so if you have a relevant background in any of these fields, it will get easier for you to get started.

There are several ways to learn about data topics of your choice.

  • Read books from renowned reputable authors in the field
  • Follow tech and data thought leaders on leading social media platforms
  • Watch YouTube videos
  • Join online communities such as the PHQ’s Slack Community
  • Enroll in courses such as data science, user experience, and product management

Here is a list of the key topics you must acquaint yourself:

  • Data Science
  • Product development
  • Product management
  • User experience
  • Machine learning and artificial intelligence
  • Data analysis
  • Statistical analysis
  • Internet of things
  • Big data
  • Algorithms
  • Customer centricity

2. Obtain a Certification in Product Management

Learning is the first step towards becoming a data product manager but it is hard to learn everything yourself. Once you understand the basics and jargon, it is time to get a data product manager certification.

Enrolling in a data product and project management course has several benefits:

  • Practical knowledge of the data products
  • Develop the skills and competencies
  • Learn to acquire experience by completing a project
  • The certificate will improve your chances of getting a job
  • Network development

Product HQ offers one of the best online platforms for product management certification. Be sure to check out our PM courses to get ahead of your competitors and stay on top of product management.

3. Develop the Right Skills

Certification in data PM develops the right skills. That said, you must enhance and polish those skills.

You need to enhance your skills with further study and practice. You need continuous learning, to grow yourself. Don’t just stick with what you learn during the course. Keep moving and accelerating.

Here is how you develop and enhance the right data product management and data governance skills:

  1. Identify the right skills
  2. Rate yourself for all the skills
  3. Work on developing skills you are weak at
  4. Enhance skills you already possess

The first step is identifying the skills required to become a data product manager. You need both hard and soft skills to become a successful data PM. These include:

  • Product development skills
  • Product management
  • Data Science
  • Machine learning
  • Data Analytics
  • Design and development
  • SQL and database management skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Analytical skills
  • Communication, collaboration, and teamwork skills
  • Flexibility and adaptability
  • Decision-making, critical thinking, and time management skills

Here are the top ways to develop and enhance skills and competencies:

  • Courses and workshops
  • E-learning
  • Books, YouTube, webinars, and podcasts
  • Training and practice
  • Job rotation and job shadowing: This only works if you are already doing a job. You can request your employer for a job rotation to learn new skills.
  • Mentorship
  • On-the-job training: Look for relevant training in your current organization and enroll yourself to learn a new skill.
  • Certifications

Looking to jump-start your career in data product management? Consider taking our PHQ Certified Data Product Manager Course to help you learn the fundamentals of being a data PM and succeed in this lucrative field.

Data Product Manager Certification

4. Acquire Relevant Experience

Nothing beats experience. If you have no relevant background, it is best to acquire relevant experience before applying for a data product manager vacancy.

If you don’t have a job yet, look for entry-level product manager or data scientist jobs such as:

  • Junior data analyst
  • Data analyst intern
  • Assistant product developer
  • Product development intern
  • Assistant data scientist
  • Business analyst intern

These are the best jobs you can do for 6-12 months to acquire experience and valuable insights to prepare yourself for the data product manager post.

If you are already doing a job, you must acquire relevant experience in data science, data analytics, product development, and product strategy and roadmaps.


Whether you volunteer for a relevant project in your current organization or another organization, it is the best way to gain experience and make your resume powerful.

Organizations and communities need help from volunteers so serving as a volunteer to help develop a product or analyze data is ideal for gaining experience.

Volunteer work also helps you make an impact in society and is a great source of self-actualization.

Job Rotation

Job rotation is a job design method used to rotate employees on different jobs throughout their careers. It is a systematic switching of employees from one job to another within the same organization. It is beneficial for both the employee and the organization.

If your current organization has a job rotation policy, you have the option to switch to a job that’s relevant to data product management so that you acquire new skills and gain relevant experience that will help you make a permanent switch.

Job Enrichment

It is another approach to job design where more dimensions are added to an existing job (making the current job enriching) to motivate employees. Job enrichment includes adding more skills and giving autonomy.

You need to reach out to your current employer and see how to enrich your job by increasing the skill variety of your choice. This helps you a lot in polishing your skills and gaining relevant experience.

Job Shadowing

Not all organizations have a systematic job design method. For that reason, they don’t allow job rotation and enrichment (even on demand). In such a case, practice job shadowing which is a useful technique.

Job shadowing means observing and following another employee performing their role. Observe data product managers, data scientists, data analysts, product managers, and business analysts in your current organization to see how they work.


This is my favorite way to gain experience in data PM without leaving your current job. Once you know the basics of data integration and product management, work as a freelancer on a few small projects.

Don’t look for the earnings, rather do these projects to gain experience and build your portfolio.

A good place to start is to look for relevant job posts on freelance portals like Upwork, Toptal, and Freelancer.

5. Build and Use Your Network

Networking is the key to getting a job. Research shows that a majority of open jobs are filled through networking and 80% of job seekers reported that their network helped them land a job of their choice.

Building a network of relevant people to get a data product manager job is the most important thing you need to do. How to do it?

Here are smart ways to build and grow your career network:

  • Attend conferences, networking events, and meetups especially where you’ll find lots of data product managers
  • Join professional organizations such as the Product Development and Management Association (PDMA)
  • Get in touch with current and past peers
  • Use social media, especially LinkedIn, to connect with relevant individuals. A study found that 35% of people say that a casual conversation on LinkedIn helped them land a new job opportunity
  • Acquaintance yourself with contacts that push your professional development

At the end of the day, it all comes down to how you use your network to hunt for a data product manager job. Your pitch is the key.

For example, an event is organized where leading data product managers and data infrastructure product managers are invited.

Attending this event unprepared with zero homework won’t help you much. You need to prepare your pitch, make personal business cards, and do your homework before you reach out to anyone in your network.

Prepare a 30-second pitch about yourself so you know what to say when you meet someone face-to-face. And prepare a catchy message for online connections. You need to be open and transparent when you talk with people. Tell them that you want a data product manager position and explain why you are a good fit.

Data Product Management Overview

A data product manager (PM) is responsible for managing product data and developing products based on data-driven insights.

The role isn’t much different from a traditional product manager where you have to manage the product and its features end-to-end, however, a data PM focuses on data more than anything else when managing and developing data quality for a product.

The key focus of a data PM is data and data analytics. They work with data scientists, data and market research teams, and data engineers.

Data Analytics Model

The key responsibilities of data product managers are:

  • Understanding customer needs
  • Data management and analysis
  • Developing data-driven UX
  • Conducting product experimentation activities
  • Prioritizing batches of data analysis
  • Collaborating with data scientists, data engineers, developers, and other cross-functional teams

Grab Your Dream Data Product Manager Job Now

Becoming a data product manager without experience is possible. You need to move in the right direction and take the right steps to get your dream job.

Certification and developing the right skills are the two most important steps to becoming a data PM.

Even if you have developed all the skills, if you don’t have certification to show it to potential employers, it will get tough for you.

Certification is a guarantee that you know you are claiming and that you possess the skills needed to become a successful data product manager.


Here are answers to questions that aspiring data product managers frequently ask on how to become a data product manager:

How to get into data product management?

Here’s what you need:

  1. Technical Skills: Learn data analytics, SQL, Python, and machine learning.
  2. Business Acumen: Understand market trends, customer needs, and business strategy.
  3. Experience: Work as a data analyst, data scientist, or product manager to understand data collection.
  4. Product Management: Study product lifecycle, UX, and agile methodologies.
  5. Certifications: Obtain relevant certifications (e.g., CSPO).

Can data engineers become product managers?

Yes, data engineers can become product managers if they develop strong communication skills, a deep understanding of product management principles, and business acumen, and gain experience in customer-focused roles.

What is the difference between a data manager and a product manager?

A data manager oversees data storage, processing, and analysis of the data domain, ensuring data integrity and accessibility.

On the other hand, a product manager focuses on the development, strategy, and market success of a product, balancing customer needs and business goals.

Is it hard to get into product management?

Yes, it is challenging to get into product management due to the need for a diverse skill set, including technical knowledge, business acumen, and leadership abilities.

Strong competition and the requirement for relevant experience also make entry more difficult. Building a solid foundation and networking can significantly aid in breaking into the field.

If you are new to product management and are looking to break into your first product role, we recommend taking our Product Management Certification Courses, where you will learn the fundamentals of product management, launch your product, and get on the fast track toward landing your first product job.

Josh Fechter
Josh Fechter
Josh Fechter is the co-founder of Product HQ, founder of Technical Writer HQ, and founder and head of product of Squibler. You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.