Is it more common to see a PM with a project management or UX background?

Hello Folks,

Which would be more relevant to becoming a PM, project management or UX background?
Thanks in advance.


Honestly I would take the UX Research role. imo it’s more interesting than Project Management and it is a more differentiating skillset (there’s sooo many project managers) and will have you actually talking with customers, which project management likely won’t.

Others are right that project management will get you experience that will overlap with some PM roles, BUT if ideally you want to find a future Product role with as little project management mixed in as possible (which most people do) then the UXR experience will benefit you more longer term.

If you take the PjM role you are more likely to only be considered for future Product roles that require project management work, since that’s the skillset you’ll have. If you take the UXR one, your skillset in talking with customers and synthesizing their pain points will be the transferable skillset you bring to a PM role.


Thank you for your insight


It depends a lot on the product and what ways of working they have.

I have moved from tech(not development), to project management, to product owner and scrum master to product manager. With some start-up founding and marketing communication in between.

For me, the biggest knowledge gap of transitioning in to product management has been data analysis, this can be a big bottle neck if you are totally reliant on getting help from a data analyst and they either don’t exist or don’t have time for you.

Honestly being a PM requires you to know a little bit of everything to be good. Development, leadership, project management, UX design and research, data analysis, marketing, communication skills, product market fit knowledge, basic economy knowledge and more. Just map out what is most needed in the org you are at and work at your gaps.

The perfect PM does not exist, recruiters some times have a unrealistic expectations to check for all these boxes. If that person exist he or she is most likely a CPO somewhere already with a huge salary.


I would say UX. Project managers work in a pretty limited capacity with product managers, whereas UX is integral to the product team. You’ll get more insight into what product does since your relationship is more substantive - insights vs. logistics. I also feel like the agile ceremonies can be learned on the side if you attend all the standups and sprint planning, but UX work tends to require more client interaction - which you won’t get as a project manager.


The 3 best fields that can give you hard skills that will translate over into product management are the following:

  1. Engineering
  2. Design
  3. Marketing

There are product managers that also come from all sorts of backgrounds such as customer success, sales, support, and more… but these 3 skills will give you some essential hard skills that will be useful on your journey into product management. Learn as much of these 3 domains as you possibly can.

Hope this helps!


I’ve met more project managers who went the product manager route. (Bay area/Texas)

I’ve yet to meet a ux person who turned to product. I think the comp is fairly similar by level, IIRC.

Most is tech turned to product.

Then business/consulting turned to product.


Hopefully a product manager has a product management background :thinking:

The closest most relatable thing would be a project manager.


I agree! I think product can come from a lot of backgrounds, not one specific one. I will say this: I think the transition from project to product is not an easy one, depending on the environment.


What would you say is the biggest gap to fill between project and product?


Project is a lot of times about the “when…” When will it be delivered, when are the milestones, how much money have we spent…

Product is, what is the problem we’re solving, how do we solve it, do the customers love it, and are we delivering value.

The product is the what, the engineers are the how, and the project person is focused on the when (in concert with product, because they’re working with engineers on estimations, etc.).


Thanks. I have two offers for both UX research and project management but I’m not sure which will make it easier later to transition into product management.


@Carolyn, Learn UX research on the side… but go for project management if that’s the offer on the table. It’ll teach you about requirements gathering, estimations, milestones, forecasting and delivery.


Is it technically project management? Or more like Ops?


It’s a program manager role for internal communications on a network infrastructure team.


@Carolyn, Then yeah that would probably be closer. Ideally you’d want to get into a software dev team. But that should get you all sorts of experience in dependency tracking and cross org work etc. probably better than a ux work. But ux can easily go to website or app and growth pm work


At mature companies, a Product Manager is product discovery role, as are UX roles. Project management on the other hand is a product delivery role.

Generally, Product Managers come from backgrounds that give them strong product discovery experience. So, a UX role is probably more likely to lead to a Product Management role.

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UX all day. I feel you have much more understanding about users than coming from UX and you’ll have an innate understanding of why solutions will or won’t work. Also if you work at a start up you might have to fill the UX role at some point as a project manager you can’t really be part of an proper agile team. It’s not even a contest.