This article was published on March 22, 2022

Switching from developer to product owner? Consider these pros and cons first

Find out if it's the right move for you


Switching from developer to product owner? Consider these pros and cons first
Rebecca OKeeffe

Career progression is important. After all, it’s what motivates us, keeps us engaged, and ultimately helps us to move up the career ladder. For many developers, becoming a product owner is seen as the ultimate goal. But, it’s not for everyone.

When working in agile teams, you can’t be a product owner and a developer i.e. a member of the team. This is because it goes against one of the key principles of scrum, commitment.

So, at some stage in your career, you’ll probably have to make a choice. Would you like to make the switch to product owner or stay in the developer realm in the long term?

It’s not an easy decision and there are a lot of different factors to consider, that’s where we come in. We’ve rounded up everything you need to know, the pros and cons, and the ins and outs. Now all you need to do is weigh your options.

How do the roles differ?

In a nutshell, product owners are responsible for deciding what to build next. They will always make these decisions with the end-user in mind. They turn customer problems and queries into user stories and also prioritize these stories in the product backlog.

They need to:

  • Communicate the voice of the customer to the dev team
  • Attend all agile and scrum meetings
  • Control backlog refinement
  • Plan different iterations
  • Work on story acceptance criteria
  • Participate in demos and retrospectives
  • Look at the big picture

On the other hand, a product developer is tasked with developing or enhancing a product in order to meet their customers’ needs. Developers write, test, debug, and maintain applications.

They need to:

  • Research and design software programs
  • Identify areas for modification
  • Problem-solve
  • Write and maintain software
  • Document processes for future maintenance and upgrades

Who would be a good fit for this role?

As you’ve probably gathered by now, the product owner role isn’t for everyone, it takes a certain kind of person to throw themselves into this title and make it their own.

Firstly, you’ll need to be strong in soft skills such as communication, organization, and critical thinking to align your entire team.

Secondly, the role requires a vast amount of technical knowledge and a solid understanding of the market.

Finally, the best product owners are decisive and fair. When faced with vast amounts of feedback, they need to sift through it all to find out what aligns with the project’s vision and goals. To do this, you need to be comfortable with saying no.

What are the pros?

  • Exposure to lots of different aspects of the business e.g. marketing, finance etc.
  • Opportunity to develop leadership skills
  • A challenging but rewarding role

Okay, but what about the cons?

  • No time spent on hands-on work such as coding
  • More time spent in meetings and dealing with queries
  • Taking accountability for things that are largely out of your control

What about money?

Of course, salary is often dependent on the amount of experience you have and the company you’re working for. But, there’s no harm considering what you could potentially earn in both roles.

According to the Indeed salary calculator, the average salary for a product developer is €55,346 per year. A product owner on the other hand makes around €70,607. Obviously, money isn’t everything but it’s definitely a factor that you have to consider.

With any career move, you need to spend time thinking about your options before taking the plunge. Either way, you’re sure to have an exciting and varied career in this field.

Whether you decide to go the developer route or you realize being a product owner is for you, check out the House of Talent jobs board for the latest and greatest career opportunities.