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Is SDE to TPM a good career switch?

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Senior Software Engineer at Taro Community2 months ago

I have been contemplating this switch for a while, but have concerns related to the following:

  1. Are TPMs more prone to lay-offs?
  2. How tough is the switch from TPM back to SDE in case I don't like the TPM role later?
  3. Are TPMs less respected than SDEs? I have this fear that this switch might be career suicide for me.
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Discussion

(2 comments)
  • 4
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    2 months ago

    Are TPMs more prone to lay-offs?

    I personally think so - Similar to other roles with an "M" in it, TPMs aren't builders on their own. They work through engineers. In Meta's most recent layoff wave, I heard it was literally all TPMs.

    How tough is the switch from TPM back to SDE in case I don't like the TPM role later?

    It will be hard. SWE -> TPM should be pretty straightforward since you have the coding background to speak the language of the engineers you're managing (this gives you an edge over other TPMs). TPM -> SWE is trickier, especially if you have been TPM for a long time, as people will be skeptical of your technical abilities.

    In general, it's easier to go from coding -> non-coding than the other way around. Make these transitions carefully.

    Are TPMs less respected than SDEs? I have this fear that this switch might be career suicide for me.

    It depends on who you ask. 😉

    If you want to learn more about TPMs, check this out: Technical Program Manager (TPM) resources

  • 4
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    Tech Lead/Manager at Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
    2 months ago

    How tough is the switch from TPM back to SDE in case I don't like the TPM role later?

    This is the sticking point for me -- there's less optionality as a TPM. Unless you're very diligent about keeping up technically, you'll start to get pigeonholed as a TPM and won't be taken seriously for eng roles.

    This depends on the strength of your network and how many people can really advocate for you.