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A career path (or “ladder”) is a logical progression of increasingly challenging jobs within a specified function that primarily includes vertical movement throughout an organization and requires progressively more experience and skills. It is defined as a theoretical or ideal success pathway, with employees who progress through those roles developing at each level the critical knowledge, skills, and abilities needed for the next one. It is not a required pathway, but one that provides guidance to aspirants (when combined with job success profiles) about which roles can be available and what requirements must be met to eventually qualify for consideration to fill each position. Career paths differ from “career lattices”, which is a more advanced construct typically considered within complex organizations to enable the movement of people vertically, horizontally, and across functional lines.
In a compensation and classification framework (also referred to as a “job architecture" ), jobs are leveled and graded so that they may be compared and contrasted. It is quite common to see job title progressions such as “Jr. Accountant, Accountant, Sr. Account, Lead Accountant, Accounting Manager, Controller, etc.”. In this, a progression emerges that can be leveraged as a possible career path. It is also important to note that in this example, there is both a senior individual contributor (“Lead”) and management role listed.