GUIDE 2022

What is the Average Product Lead Salary?

Wondering what’s the average product lead salary?

Salaries for product leads vary across different states.

Product leads play an essential role in organizations. In fact, they are crucial to the overall success of businesses.

A skilled and experienced product lead is a valuable asset to a company. This has driven demand and forced companies to offer competitive rates.

This article takes a closer look at the average salary as well as the factors that impact the wages these professionals rack in.

What Does a Product Lead do?

Product leads are in high demand in the United States. It is an expanding profession with high levels of responsibility, risk-taking, and rewards.

Another common job title that is synonymous with that of a product lead is that of a senior product manager. They have different responsibilities that depend on both the industry and the type of product a company is developing.

Although job titles differ, it is a key role within an organization. It involves devising product roadmaps and strategies. Effective liaison between departments is necessary for meeting strict deadlines.

Key duties include driving the overall development of products, managing marketing strategies, and negotiating between stakeholders to ensure maximum profitability.

Product leads are also responsible for mentoring and leading product managers. This focus supports the success of the overall product strategy.

The role demands a broad skill set and employers pay higher rates for competent, trustworthy, and motivated product leads.

So, how much do product leads earn in this exciting career?

What is the Average Base Product Lead Salary?

The average project lead base salary in the United States is $119,802 per year. Glassdoor reported these figures in April 2022.

The lowest salary is $67,000 and the highest salary is $213,000.

So why is there such a broad range?

There are a few factors to take into account to understand why this variation occurs.

Job location has a big impact on the potential salary. This means product lead salaries are higher in locations that have a higher cost of living.

Other factors include an applicant’s educational background, skills, and experience. Relevant industry knowledge also affects salary rates.

Let’s take a look at some of the reported averages and consider the reasons they vary.

How Does Location Affect the Product Lead Salary?

Depending on your geographical location, product leads earn different salaries. It pays to relocate to a state with a higher median salary.

Some organizations compensate employees for relocation costs. This means they secure the most highly skilled candidates for their company.

The location of companies also influences salary rates. California is the location for many tech-based companies, so salaries in this state are higher than average.

Let’s take a look at the average salaries paid across five geographic regions of the US as well as further afield.

US-North East
The average base pay for a product lead:

  • Boston $122,903
  • New York $138,820

US-North West
The average base pay for a product lead:

  • Los Angeles $112,184
  • Portland $146,242
  • San Francisco $177,628
  • Seattle $148,545

US Midwest
The average base pay for a product lead:

  • Chicago $87,218
  • Detroit $111,244
  • Indianapolis $106,526
  • Minneapolis $134,697

US South East
The average base pay for a product lead:

  • Atlanta $132,781
  • Miami $100,290
  • Indianapolis $106,526

US South West
The average base pay for a product lead:

  • Dallas $137,207
  • Denver $125,478
  • Phoenix $110,365

Major European Cities
The average base pay for a product lead in:

  • London €84,818
  • Berlin €83,605
  • Paris €66,052
  • Amsterdam €96,150
  • Helsinki €69,456
  • Dublin €82,811

How Does Cost of Living Affect the Product Lead Salary?

When looking at the salaries stated above, it is important to consider the cost of living. The cost of living varies between regions and between states.

Although the average base salary in New York City is $138,820, it is also the city with the highest overall cost of living in the United States.

Cities on the West coast have a higher cost of living. So, although the average product lead salary is higher, maintaining a good standard of living costs more. For example, San Francisco has a cost of living 80 percent above the national average.

Before accepting a salary offer from a hiring manager, compare the average salaries with the cost of living.

Payscale provides a cost of living calculator here: (https://www.payscale.com/cost-of-living-calculator).

How Does Demand Affect the Product Lead Salary?

Another factor that influences a product lead salary is demand. Companies pay more for the right candidate when the demand exceeds the supply.

The state with the highest demand for product leads is California. This means roles in California pay a higher than average annual salary compared to states with less demand.

To source skilled product leads, companies offer higher salaries to attract the highest caliber of applicants.

The size of the company also plays a role. Larger companies such as Meta, Airbnb, Google, and Microsoft pay higher salary rates than smaller companies. 

How Does Education Affect the Product Lead Salary?

It is possible to become a product lead manager with a high school diploma. But higher-level qualifications increase the potential salary rate.

It is not possible to gain a bachelor’s in product management. Majoring in a related subject demonstrates you have the relevant skills and aptitude to succeed as a product lead.

Recommended paths include a bachelor’s degree in business, marketing, or engineering. Skills gained in these fields are useful to the product management career path.

According to Zippia, (https://www.zippia.com/product-lead-jobs/education/) 66% of product leads have earned a bachelor’s degree and 19% hold a master’s degree. The most common major is business. 

How Do Skills and Experience Affect the Product Lead Salary?

Many product lead managers learn on the job. They build up their wealth of experience through hands-on knowledge of bringing a new product to the market.

An increased level of experience correlates with an increased level of pay. The average product lead salary for someone with a senior level of experience is $200,000 per year.

By contrast, salaries for entry-level positions offer an average of $82,100 per year. Mid-level positions offer an average salary of $87,700.

Hiring managers demand a range of skills that are valuable to the role. This means they pay more for applicants who demonstrate previous experience.

Nurturing a product from development to launch requires dedication, motivation, and organization. Individuals with a broader skill set command higher salaries than less skilled applicants.

To help increase your potential salary rate, there are certifications that relate to the product lead role.

One example is the Project Management Professional (PMP). This shows a potential employer you have gained the skills needed for success in product management.

Taking relevant online certifications and courses enhances your skillset. Evidencing your knowledge and abilities shows you are a valuable asset to an organization.

How do Different Industries Affect the Product Lead Salary?

Product leads are crucial across a wide range of industries. The nature of different industries affects the salary you earn.

The highest-paid industries for product leads are technology and finance. So opportunities within these fields offer higher annual salaries.

Jobs in health care and the automotive industry pay salaries at the lower end of the spectrum.

Zippia provides salary averages for the top paying industries.
The top 3 highest paying industries are:

  • Technology $115,410
  • Finance $114,575
  • Professional $111,581

The 3 lowest-paying industries are:

  • Manufacturing $106,514
  • Health care $106,309
  • Automotive $101,640

Salaries across all industries range from $88,000 to $134,000. This shows that industry experience affects potential salary offers.

How do Additional Compensations Affect the Product Lead Salary?  

Some organizations award product leads additional compensations alongside a base annual salary.

These compensations are financial supplements that include bonuses, rewards, and commissions.

Glassdoor reports additional cash compensations per year for product leads. These payments range from $9,450 to $30,380.

Not all companies award these compensations and they vary from year to year. It is more important to focus on the base salary pay than rely on extra compensation.

Key Takeaways for Product Lead Salaries

Remember that working in product management demands a range of varied skills. This means employers offer competitive salary rates to get you hired.

Consider your current skills and the benefits of developing them further. Look out for relevant certifications or courses to boost your potential earnings.

Research different industries and the locations of companies. Product lead salaries vary depending on the type of industry and geographical location.

Don’t be afraid to negotiate your salary rate with your potential employer. By believing in your abilities and demonstrating your skills, employers offer a higher product lead salary.      

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.