Project/Product Management: According to the Project Management Institute, project management is: “the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements.” In technology companies, project managers typically bring products to market and complete implementation of products for customers, but project managers can oversee any project that has a beginning and end, and isn’t a routine part of maintaining the company. Project managers seek to complete projects on time, on budget, and within scope. There are different models for project/product management in technology companies, the most common of which are Agile/Scrum and Waterfall.
Agile/Scrum: A project management technique that is growing in popularity in software development companies is Agile Engineering. Agile Engineering helps development teams respond to unpredictable changes in requirements and scope of a project through incremental change. Teams complete tasks in two week ‘sprints’, get feedback from the customer, and then adjust the tasks for the next sprint. Scrum is a specific method for implementing Agile Engineering techniques. Scrum teams have three roles: Scrum Master, Product Owner, and Team. In Scrum, there is no “project manager”, but rather the three roles work together to optimize efficiency. Scrum teams get together daily for a ‘stand-up’ where the report on the work they completed previously, and what they are working on that day. These meetings help ensure efficiency and transparency in the development process. While agility can be a strength in the development process, it can lead to projects going over budget and out of scope. For a handy reference, check this out.
Waterfall: A more traditional project management methodology that is non-iterative, but rather sequential. There are eight stages: conception, initiation, analysis, design, construction, testing, implementation, and maintenance. Each stage must be completed before the next is started. The advantages of this project management method is that it is easier to budget and create a timeline for delivery. The downside is that there is limited feedback during the process, so changing client needs are not taken into account until the end, making changes much more costly.
A handy reference on the similarities and differences between Agile and Waterfall methods: http://www.base36.com/2012/12/agile-waterfall-methodologies-a-side-by-side-comparison/
Project Management Certifications: There are a number of different kinds of certifications in the field of project management, and these certifications are recognized across industries. The most common professional certification is the Project Management Professional (PMP), which requires a certain number of hours working as a project manager. Students just entering the field can apply for a Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM). More info here.
You can also become certified in Scrum and get training to become a Scrum Master, Product Owner, or developer. There are numerous training organizations and helpful websites. Check out Scrum.org and Scrum Alliance, as well as APGM International for more information.
Salaries vary widely depending on role, geographic location, and level of experience. Look at specific roles in the the Occupational Outlook Handbook, published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Do your research to get a better sense of what specific companies in particular cities are paying entry-level employees. Check out Glassdoor and Salary.com to get an idea. Also, a cost of living calculator can be very useful when trying to compare salaries in different parts of the country.