Read Cracking the PM Interview  (for an overview of the job, not the actual interview tips) and The Lean Startup  (for general philosophy).
35 is a great age for a PM, especially since PM's often start elsewhere -- maturity is a plus here. I'd say there are 3 main ways into it -- as an engineer, who starts to do PM-type stuff on a team where there's no PM. As a designer, who starts to do PM-type stuff on a team where there's no PM. Or as an MBA who has a good sense for engineering and design. Certifications generally don't mean anything -- communication and leadership skills, good judgment, experience and a proven track record are what matter. But all those things can be demonstrated in previous non-PM roles, in order to make the initial switch.
Also, if you want to be a PM then you'd better enjoy meetings, slides, people, and communicating & convincing all day long, day-in day-out. If those make you say an enthusiastic "yes that's me!" then jump right in. If not... you're gonna have a bad time...
I transitioned from dev to architect. This statement is so true, even more so for PMs.
Even if you're on a team with a PM already, offer to write a few of the specs. Or if there's no room to do that, then create a side project where you go through the product development process and show your work. Create sort of a portfolio that demonstrates your abilities.
My suggestion that the best way to crack pm other than comm skills is doing competitive surveys.
I recommend you build and release your own product start to finish. This helps you get exposure to parts you got to avoid in your engineering role.
I see product management as a producer role which includes the successful release and iteration. This is best learned by doing and if you don’t have a team, you be the team.
Leave me in my room with my beloved keyboard! I can sense other likely-minded beings over the wire. No slides, no meetings, no politics. Only the austerity of code, measurements, technical merit.
If you want more (especially control), you'll never have it. Except for your side projects.
But there's a lot of fun to be had between now and then.
I can probably write an essay on this, but here's a TLDR version.
I do like coding, and will definitely continue working on my side projects. Although programming pays quite well, I'm not sure of the long term payoffs of continuing as a programmer (unless you are one of the Linus Torvalds, or in a similar league - which I am no where close to).
Longer term: I do want to get to a point in my career where I would like to influence product strategy (focus on the whys) a s a VP of Product Management vs. VP of Engineering.
Having said that I do believe I have the skills to be a good PM. I will explore this, and if it's not the right fit, I can switch back.
If you have a completely different perspective, please let me know.
But from an overall career experience, it will likely open new doors for you. Whether those doors are the ones you want remain to be seen.
I also think the vast majority of PM roles are just implementing some Director/VP of Product's wish lists rather than doing much strategy on your own. And hopefully you encounter good product direction, but IME that's few and far in between. Moving up has been much more about adherence to the company's vision/politics than good products/tech.
Plus there's also the interesting dynamic of overall eng/PM relationship within a company. Those can vary from very good to pretty darn toxic.
I don't mean to discourage you from trying. I learned a lot of doing it... but I think it's a tougher path. Depends on your personality and interests. Often it's much more a people job than a tech job, even for very techy products.
To be fair, the product role is also much more varied from company to company (than eng). You may find a place where it is more about the tech and less about company politics.
My bigger question for you is are you at the stage of your (personal) life where you can afford to take a chance on your career. Switching back may not be as easy as you think... especially if you truly embrace the product side (and also depends on what part of tech you're in).
While it may be okay at your present company, IME it's very easy to end up in a wierdo trap of having your feet on two different ships heading in different directions.
I've also got some funny stories about engineering managers who think I've been infected by some disease due to my time in product.
Source: I started my career as engineering IC for several years, moved to product for several, and have now returned to engineering IC for several.
I like coding and I like to improve my coding skills and knowledge, but I feel I am more of generalist than a specialist, I am always lurking around HN, PH, IH, looking at products, trying to always get a little bit more about product strategy, marketing, design and UX.
I have considered a transition into a PM role but I'm still not sure I'm quite ready to step away from the developer role, a part of me would like to have an awesome project that I could build my own company around but I'm just not there yet either.
Either way, I'll be lurking the responses in this thread. Good luck with your move.
Sometimes I feel that I can't influence the product even though I care for it - but then I grow bitter and start a job seeking cycle.
- Decode & Conquer
- Inspired (Marty Cagan)
- Radical Focus (about OKRs)
For me that's a huge nope, also it's why I love working with a good PM when you're a developer, they're like your partner in crime so to speak!