two people speaking on stage

Career Ladder

A “career ladder” is a traditional career model where individuals grow “up the ladder” over time. In most hierarchical job families this may start for example, as “assistant engineer,” then move to  “junior engineer,” “engineer,” “senior engineer,” and then “consulting engineer.” Typically, this career ladder then includes a managerial track, often separate from the professional track, where the individual can become an “engineering supervisor,” then move to “engineering manager,” then “director of engineering,” and upward. 

The reason it’s called a ladder is because these models are hierarchical. Employees need to prove their capabilities at each level, and then be considered for the next level. Most functional careers (i.e., IT, sales, finance, marketing) have these ladders and they are well known, easy to use for recruiting and levelling, and easy to manage.

The new world of work is shifting, however, and we now have a model where people’s jobs are less attached to their job title and level than to their experience, skills, education, and reputation. We call that “agile careers”.”

Build your HR capabilities.

Close skill gaps and increase you or your team's earning potential — Start today by browsing our wide range of courses tailored for HR professionals around the world.

Explore the Academy
a conference room filled with people sitting at tables

Join over 70,000 HR professionals elevating their skills with the Josh Bersin Academy.