Product development directors work for many different types of companies, such as automotive, clothing, cosmetics, computers, hardware and software, health care, pharmaceutical, insurance, and finance, to name just a few. The Department of Labor (DOL) does not provide information on product development directors. The profession that shares some of the same tasks and responsibilities as those of product development directors is advertising, promotions, and marketing managers. According to the DOL, there are 286,800 of these workers employed in the United States.
Many product development directors get their start through an entry-level job in product development. They may start as a product development coordinator and then move up to become a product development assistant. Ask your school's career services office for assistance in the job search. Also conduct your own search by looking for job listings on professional associations' Web sites, such as the Product Development and Management Association (https://www.pdma.org), and by searching for jobs on sites such as Glassdoor, Indeed, LinkedIn, and others.
Product development directors who work for large companies advance to become senior directors, overseeing larger development teams and more development projects. They may become department heads or vice presidents or go on to a chief executive officer position. Those who are employed full time may leave their jobs to start their own consulting companies. They may go back to school for an advanced degree, such as a master's in business administration, which can improve their job prospects. Certification is another form of advancement. Some get more involved in professional associations, such as by speaking at conferences and teaching workshops.
Get a part-time job or internship in a company that has a product development department. Search for jobs on the Product Development and Management Association's Web site, https://jobs.pdma.org.
Conduct an informational interview of a product development director to learn more about the job they do. Prepare a list of questions first, including how they got started in their career and their educational background.
Keep up with news in the product development industry by reading articles on Web sites such as https://www.marketingweek.com/product-service-innovation and https://www.entrepreneur.com/topic/product-development.
Join a professional association, such as the Product Development and Management Association, for access to education, networking events, and career-support resources.