What Technical Background do I need to be a TPM?

One common group of people looking to transition into a technical project manager role, is non-technical project managers.  It makes sense why so many non-technical project managers would want to transition into a technical project manager role given that technical project managers can make up to double their non-technical counterparts.

As a result, many non-technical project managers want to know, what kind of technical background is required to enter the field as a TPM? 

Below are a few steps to get you started. 

1) Learn a programming language. 
Focus on the basics here.  Learn the syntax and capabilities of that programming language, and be able to solve basic coding problems like "reverse a string", or "find an element in a list".  I recommend starting with Python as it tends to be the most user friendly and easiest to get started.  Remember that you will generally not be expected to code as a TPM, but understanding the basics will help you participate in technical conversations. 

2) Learn about full stack web development
In order to participate in technical discussions, you must have a basic understanding of the major components of a full stack web application. You should have an understanding about about front-end development, back-end development, and database programming, and how they all fit together.  Again, you will likely not be asked to create full stack web development, but you should understand the main components that make up an app. 

3) Learn about systems design. 
As a TPM, your "product owner" counterparts will come to you with a generic business requirement or user story, and it will be your responsibility to translate that user story into technical requirements.  Systems design is a favorite question for interviewers.  A common interview question might be: "Design an online bookstore", or "design a version of instagram for children".  It will be your responsibility to begin to spec out the major components of this app.  

 

4) Learn Agile Methodologies
Don't let this scare you.  I believe Agile methodologies use their own terms and language to make it seem more complicated than it actually is.  You can learn nearly everything you need to know about Agile in a few days online.  No certifications needed.  Learning agile will be crucial because it is how most software companies manage their projects, and you as a TPM will be expected to act as the subject matter expert in Agile methodologies. 


Conclusion

These are the main components that you should focus on.  There are many different types of TPMs so  exact qualifications will vary.