An organization’s product director oversees efforts to provide customers with products and services they want at prices they are willing to pay. Ample job opportunities in fields ranging from high-tech to healthcare, and finance to pharmaceuticals, make pursuing a product director career a smart decision. And it can begin with enrolling in a Master of Business Administration degree program.
Product Director Job Outlook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment growth for the category that includes product directors will experience steady growth in coming years. Product expansion and increased competition will spur demand for skilled product directors. Those with advanced education and specialized knowledge – particularly in new media – should have the best job prospects.
Leading the launch of new product and service offerings is the primary role of a product director. Starting with market research and guided by organizational goals and directives, these professionals work to increase revenue and customer satisfaction by delivering a range of products that will be well-received in the marketplace.
The product director gathers data, analyzes competition, and captures customer requirements to identify gaps in a company’s offerings. They interface with management, engineering, information technology and finance to develop probability studies, return on investment analyses and delivery timelines.
These highly skilled professionals address critical success factors, financial objectives and key issues in determining which products to bring to market. Depending on the employer, a product director may lead a brand development team for one or more products; develop a life cycle management plan to extend the business potential; and conduct continuous research and analysis of product performance.
Building business models, validating findings through data analysis and making recommendations are additional job duties typical for a product director. They may also manage product strategy communications, such as updates and roadmap reviews, and present findings and recommendations in a formal setting.
A product director’s work environment usually consists of a comfortable office. A 40-hour week is standard, but product launches could require longer hours. Travel to outside vendors or satellite facilities may be necessary.
Product Director Potential Salary
According to national salary data on PayScale.com, as of January 2011 the median total annual pay for product directors was about $139,360, with those in the 25th to 75th percentile earning between $114,588 and $164,132 in total pay.
With additional experience, product directors may move up the ladder, into roles of increasing responsibility and higher potential annual pay. A sampling of executive salaries on PayScale.com in January 2011 showed that senior product directors and VPs of product development in the 75th percentile of earners brought in approximately $192,849 and $195,616 per year, respectively.
The data show that the top salaries generally go to those with experience and advanced education.
Education and Training Requirements
Employers seeking to hire product directors typically require at least a bachelor’s degree, as well as some work experience. Many top employers show preference to candidates with master’s degrees, including MBAs.
Landing a top product director position takes skills and knowledge that can be obtained by enrolling in a Master of Business Administration program. Coursework typically includes strategic management, project tools and techniques, financial management policy and consumer behavior strategies.
Employers can be confident that professionals who have earned an MBA degree are able to:
- Strategically plan and successfully implement new product launches.
- Integrate various business initiatives, including marketing, operations and finances.
- Use theories of modern leadership and negotiation to advance organizational goals.
- Build consensus through active case discussion.
- Leverage advanced knowledge and skills to succeed as a product director.
Is a Product Director Career in Your Future?
A career as a product director is a good fit for creative, entrepreneurial individuals who are self-starters and able to work in fast-paced environments. It also requires strong relationship-building, problem-solving and analytical skills. If you possess these attributes, adding the solid business skills and prestige acquired through an MBA program could be your ticket to landing a product director job and launching a great new career!