A Guide to Product Development Jobs: Roles, Skills, Salaries

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Learn about product development jobs, the product lifecycle, and what skills you need to work in product development or as a product manager in this article.

[Featured image] A female, wearing a dark jacket and white top, is standing in front of and pointing to a whiteboard, as she conducts a meeting with the product development team.

When you work in product development, your role is to bring better products to the market by overseeing the product lifecycle. As a product developer, you must have a strong understanding of the creative and technical aspects of product development. Some essential skills include creativity, problem-solving, attention to detail, and strong communication. As you look through job advertisements, you’ll notice that product jobs often pay very well. Senior product development positions in the US can pay as much as $158,366 a year [1]. In this article, you can discover more about this rewarding career.

Read more: What is Product Lifecycle? 4 Stages + How to Manage Them

What are product development jobs?

Product development is the process of creating or improving a new product or service, including its design, testing, and release. The product lifecycle may also include controlling cost, quality, and time to market by improving manufacturing or distribution processes. An essential part of product development jobs is ensuring that products are functional, appealing to customers, and profitable. Examples of job titles in product development with their respective salaries include:

*All salary data was sourced from Glassdoor in August 2023.

Read more: What is PLM? Product Lifecycle Management Career Guide

Product development job description

Product development jobs can involve improving existing products or developing new ones. These processes include responsibilities such as developing marketing strategies for and implementing protocols to ensure product quality. Product development must consider customers' needs and wants and be aligned with the company's ability to source, produce, and market the product.

Product development process

Someone in a product development role may be involved with all four steps of the product development process below:

1. Researching the market.

Before you start product development, you must research the target market to ensure demand for your merchandise. This involves surveying potential customers and analyzing data to determine if they’ll be motivated to purchase your product. You’ll also need to uncover how big the opportunity is.

Read more: Market Analysis: What It Is and How to Conduct One

2. Designing the process.

Your first step in product development is designing the product. This involves brainstorming for a new product or ways to improve an existing one. Your design must be functional, aesthetically pleasing, safe, and compliant with relevant regulations.

3. Developing the product.

Once the design is complete, it’s time for you to develop the product. This involves developing the manufacturing process, building prototypes, and ensuring products meet all safety and quality standards. Product development can be relatively simple or more complex, involving many iterations in an Agile development environment. 

Read more: Agile Product Management: What Is It and Why Does It Matter?

4. Conducting prototype testing.

Once the product is ready, present it to selected customers for feedback. Criticism can help improve the product before it goes to market.

AI product development

The AI product development life cycle can differ from the standard. Building AI skills can be an excellent way to set yourself apart from other candidates and stay current with the evolving tech landscape. With IBM's AI Product Manager Professional Certificate, you can learn to apply your leadership skills to the AI product management lifecycle. You'll examine real-world case studies of successful AI integration and develop or strengthen your knowledge of Agile concepts and methodologies. By the end, you'll have earned a Professional Certificate from an industry leader in technology.

Product development industry overview 

The industry is expected to grow with new technology, like robotics, data analytics, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things (IoT), is changing how products are developed and manufactured. Jobs for product developers are in demand as businesses strive to introduce new products to the market. Product development is also critical to a company's success, and those who enter this field can expect to find plenty of opportunities for advancement. 

Job outlook for product development

The US Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) predicts that industrial product designer jobs will increase 2 percent between 2022 and 2032 [2]. Market research analyst jobs are expected to grow by 13 percent in this period [3]. Different positions in product development will have different demand levels as technology transforms.

Key skills for product development jobs

As a product development manager, you have many roles. One minute, you might be working on the strategy for a product launch; the next, you might troubleshoot an issue with a product in early development. To succeed in this type of role requires strong and diverse competencies. 

Technical skills

You’ll need to be proficient in several technical skills to understand complex technical problems and develop creative product solutions. Some of the technical skills you’ll possess include:

  • Conducting market research

  • Knowledge of user experience best practices

  • Understanding of web/software/product development

  • Product design

  • Writing technical specs and requirements

Workplace skills

Working in the product development lifecycle, you’ll also need excellent project management skills to juggle multiple products and deadlines. You’ll need to be able to work well under pressure and meet deadlines. This means having excellent workplace skills. Some of the essential workplace skills you need are:

  • Strong communication skills

  • Critical thinking and analytical skills

  • Flexibility

  • Customer service

  • Leadership and the ability to take initiative

  • Problem-solving

  • Time management

Education requirements

The education requirements for a product development job vary depending on the industry, company, and even specific title you hold. Seventy-two percent of product managers have a bachelor's degree, 17 percent have a master's degree, and 7 percent have an associate degree [4]. To get a feel for the requirements, consider browsing job postings for titles you're interested in. Keep in mind that some employers may accept alternative credentials such as certificates or work experience in lieu of a degree.

Certification programs and online courses for product development jobs

Product development certification can help you to learn the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in this career path. It can also help you demonstrate commitment and competencies to stand out amongst other candidates, making you more attractive to potential employers. 

Certification programs may also provide access to exclusive job opportunities and networking events. Here are some product-related certifications that you might want to consider.

Start building your product development skills today with Coursera

You can gain a foundational product development skill set with the University of Virgina's online course, Digital Product Management: Modern Fundamentals. This beginner-friendly course covers modern product management methods and how to manage new products and explore new product ideas. As a part of the Digital Product Management Specialization, you'll also have the chance to earn a certificate to enhance your resume.

Article sources


Glassdoor. “How much does a senior product developer make?, https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/us-senior-product-developer-salary-SRCH_IL.0,2_IN1_KO3,27.htm.” Accessed August 30, 2023.

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