Corporations that sell multiple lines of products rely on entry-level product managers to create new product ideas, study the success of existing products and help establish prices for product lines. Some may train with other product managers as they learn their company's procedures and policies. These product managers also determine the best promotions and distribution channels for their products. If you want to become an entry-level product manager, you need at least a bachelor's degree. In return, you can expect a salary averaging more than $60,000 annually.
Salary and Qualifications
The average annual salary for an entry-level product manager was $62,000, as of 2012, according to the job site Simply Hired. To become an entry-level product manager, you need a minimum of a bachelor's degree in business, marketing, engineering or science, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. You'd need an engineering degree, for example, if you worked for a company selling highly technical products -- aerospace products and parts or industrial machinery. Employers may also prefer hiring someone with one year or more of experience as a product manager or assistant product manager. Other important qualifications for the job include creativity and analytical, supervisory, communication, time management, decision-making and computer skills.
Average salaries for entry-level product managers varied the most in the South, according to Simply Hired, where they earned the lowest salaries of $48,000 in Mississippi and the highest of $98,000 in Washington, D.C. Those in the Midwest made $48,000 to $66,000 in South Dakota and Minnesota, respectively. If you worked as an entry-level product manager in the West, you'd earn an average of $50,000 in Montana or $70,000 in Alaska or California -- the lowest and highest earnings in that region. In the Northeast, you'd make the most in Massachusetts or the least in Maine -- $75,000 or 56,000, respectively.
Entry-level product managers earned more in Washington, D.C., and Massachusetts, because it typically costs more to live in that district or state. For example, if you earned $60,000 as an entry-level product manager in Portland, Maine, you'd need to make $78,178 in Washington, D.C., to maintain your living standard, according to CNN Money's cost of living calculator. In Boston, you'd have to make $76,394 to enjoy the same living standard as in Portland, or approximately 30 percent more. You'd also likely earn more working for a larger company, which would have more financial resources to pay a higher salary than a smaller company.
The BLS doesn't forecast jobs for product managers. It predicts a 14-percent increase in employment for marketing managers, who perform similar functions, through 2020, on par with the 14-percent national average for all occupations. Companies will need marketing and product managers in the next decade to help them maintain their market shares in a competitive marketplace. You might increase your chances of getting an entry-level product manager job by getting a master's in business, marketing or engineering and completing an internship while in college.