Charting a Career Progression Framework in Tech

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Contents

  1. Understanding Career Progression in Tech
  2. The Importance of a Career Framework in Tech
  3. Types of Career Paths in Tech
  4. Developing Your Career Progression Framework
  5. Key Components of a Successful Tech Career Framework
  6. Case Studies: Career Progression Success Stories in Tech
  7. Skills and Competencies for Advancement in Tech
  8. Leveraging Mentorship and Networking in Your Career Framework
  9. Technology Trends Influencing Career Progression
  10. Pathways to Progress: Education, Training, and Beyond
  11. Your Journey Through Tech Starts Here

As new technologies emerge and old ones become obsolete, tech jobs—and the careers of professional technologists—evolve. Documenting your career path in such a dynamic industry can be a challenge. Thankfully, making a career progression framework can help you chart your professional journey in tech.

A tech career framework maps out your professional goals and the steps to achieve them. It also includes skill development plans, networking strategies, and other elements.

All professionals can benefit from a structured career plan to navigate the fast-growing tech landscape. Between 2022 and 2032, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates over 375,000 new tech jobs(opens new window) will open yearly. As technology advances, many of these positions will have new job titles and responsibilities.

A career progression framework empowers you to shape your professional trajectory and prepare for high-paying tech jobs. Below, we explore frameworks, paths, and strategies to advance your tech career.

Understanding Career Progression in Tech

Career progression in tech is an individual’s upward advancement within their current organization and the broader industry.

People often associate career progression with getting a promotion or pay raise. But this process goes beyond climbing the career ladder in a specific company. It also involves acquiring new skills, taking on new challenges, and engaging in professional development activities.

Career progression looks different for everyone but may involve:

  1. Learning advanced technical skills
  2. Getting promoted to a management role
  3. Developing new areas of expertise
  4. Building your professional brand
  5. Starting a tech company

Tech professionals can use frameworks and models to plan their career progression. These tools offer a structured approach to setting goals and enable you to make strategic career decisions.

The Importance of a Career Framework in Tech

A structured career framework is essential for individual growth in the tech industry. This tool allows you to break significant, long-term goals down into more manageable steps and milestones.

Say you’re a Junior Software Engineer who wants to transition into an artificial intelligence (AI) role. This goal can seem daunting, especially if you don’t have formal AI training.

A career framework helps you plan your transition strategically. This roadmap could include completing online courses and earning AI certifications. Focusing on these smaller goals allows you to build your skills over time and stay motivated.

This tool also enables you to concentrate on the most impactful activities for your career and avoid getting sidetracked. For example, your boss might offer you a lateral position. If this role doesn't align with your career progression plan, you may decline it to pursue more relevant opportunities.

Types of Career Paths in Tech

Choose a career path in technology that suits your personal and professional goals. Aligning your job with your aspirations increases job satisfaction and helps you achieve long-term success.

Software Engineering

Software Engineers use programming languages and development tools to build software applications for end users. They create a wide range of products, including cloud storage solutions, video games, and social media platforms.

Many people start as entry-level Software Engineers. As they gain experience and skills, they often progress to more advanced roles, such as:

  1. Full Stack Engineer
  2. Senior Software Engineer
  3. Technical Lead
  4. Data Engineer
  5. DevOps Engineer
  6. Security Engineer

Data Science

Data science studies information to reveal trends and gain meaningful insights. Professionals use advanced analytics, machine learning, and other tools to gather and interpret data.

People often start their data science journeys as entry-level Data Analysts. More advanced job titles include:

  1. Data Scientist
  2. Lead Data Scientist
  3. Data Architect
  4. Data Science Manager
  5. Chief Data Scientist

Product Management

Product management involves developing new products that fulfill customers’ needs. Product Managers often collaborate closely with Software Engineers, Marketing Specialists, and other colleagues.

Professionals typically begin their careers as Junior Product Managers. As they gain experience, they can progress to these roles:

  1. Product Manager
  2. Senior Product Manager
  3. Lead Product Manager
  4. Director of Product Management
  5. Product Coach

Developing Your Career Progression Framework

Designing a career progression framework from scratch gives you complete control over its content and structure.

Some people create detailed charts with columns for every stage of their career. Each row should include different areas of professional development, such as goals and skills to acquire.

Here’s a sample career progression framework for a Junior Software Engineer:

You can also create a flowchart or diagram that visualizes your career progression. This graphic should include essential skills, goals, and milestones for each career stage.

In addition, many companies publish examples or templates for career progression frameworks. For example, progression.fyi(opens new window) has dozens of open-source frameworks. Look for a model that fits your industry or career path. You can customize the framework by adding and removing elements to reflect your priorities.

Key Components of a Successful Tech Career Framework

A career progression framework in tech should include these core elements:

  1. Distinct career levels - Map your career progression from entry-level to senior roles. Consider which job titles you want to target in the next five to ten years.
  2. Skill development - Research the requirements for every career in your framework and identify necessary technical and soft skills. Prepare for these roles by acquiring relevant competencies at the previous stage.
  3. Mentorship - Develop strategies to find supportive mentors at every career stage. As you gain experience, you can repay the favor by mentoring junior professionals.
  4. Performance metrics - Identify relevant indicators that you can use to evaluate your performance at each career stage. These metrics should be objective, measurable, and aligned with your goals. For example, you can track customer satisfaction scores and project completion rates to assess your ability to produce high-quality work.

Case Studies: Career Progression Success Stories in Tech

Case studies of successful tech leaders can inspire you and teach you valuable strategies for career advancement. Here are two professionals who have achieved success in the tech industry.

Ginni Rometty

Virginia Marie “Ginni” Rometty(opens new window) was the first female President and CEO of IBM from 2012 to 2020. She climbed to the top of the IBM ladder over a forty-year career.

Rometty graduated from Northwestern University in 1979 and started her career at General Motors Institute. In 1981, IBM hired her as a Systems Engineer.

Later, Rometty moved into a sales position at IBM. In the 2000s, this experience allowed her to become the company’s Group Executive for Sales, Marketing, and Strategy. She also served as IBM's Senior Vice President before becoming CEO.

In a 2023 interview(opens new window), Rometty advised young tech professionals to say “yes” to people who ask for help as a networking strategy. She said, “You kind of end up with being in service of people and in return your goals get fulfilled.”

Susan Wojcicki

Susan Wojcicki(opens new window) was YouTube’s CEO from 2014 to 2023. Like Rometty, she climbed the career ladder for decades before landing this prestigious role.

In 1998, Wojcicki worked in the marketing department at Intel. She broke into the tech industry after renting her garage to the founders of Google. In 1999, they offered her a job as their first Marketing Manager, demonstrating the power of networking.

Wojcicki helped develop many products in the Google ecosystem, including Google Ads and Google Videos. She also convinced Google to buy YouTube in 2006. In 2010, Google promoted Wojcicki to Senior Vice President overseeing advertisement products.

Skills and Competencies for Advancement in Tech

The specific competencies needed to advance in the tech industry vary by career path and company. But there are a few core skills that employers value across the board.

Entry-level tech professionals

Employers typically expect junior tech professionals to have foundational technical and soft skills. Essential competencies include:

  1. Programming languages - Learn to read and write code in relevant programming languages. The specific languages vary by role but may include JavaScript (web development), R (data visualization), and C++ (systems programming).
  2. Communication - Convey your ideas effectively through written reports, emails, presentations, and other forms of communication, such as Slack.
  3. Time management - Prioritize tasks and meet deadlines in fast-paced tech environments.

Senior tech professionals

Senior-level roles often involve leadership responsibilities and more complex technical projects. Professionals at this level may need these skills:

  1. Lifecycle management - Supervise the entire lifecycle of a technical product or service, from ideation to maintenance.
  2. Risk assessment - Evaluate risks associated with new tech products or projects and develop strategies to mitigate them.
  3. Project management - Oversee complex projects and stick to strict budgets and timelines.
  4. Delegation - Assign tasks to junior tech professionals and provide constructive feedback.

Leveraging Mentorship and Networking in Your Career Framework

Mentorship and networking are two essential components of any career progression framework. By leveraging these resources, you can accelerate your professional growth and make valuable connections with industry experts.

There are many ways to find career mentors in the tech industry. Experienced colleagues at your current company may be willing to provide informal guidance. Consider inviting senior professionals out for coffee or scheduling informational interviews to learn more about their roles.

Networking can also help you meet potential mentors outside your organization. Many professional tech associations host regular networking events like conferences and workshops. These gatherings allow you to build your professional network and learn about emerging trends in your field.

Online platforms are another valuable resource for finding mentors and networking. Join online communities related to your interests and career goals, such as the Tech Ladies(opens new window) Facebook group and the freeCodeCamp forum(opens new window).

Several emerging trends are reshaping career paths in the tech industry.

The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the most significant developments. Many companies have adopted this technology, increasing the demand for AI professionals.

According to a 2023 Amazon Web Services survey(opens new window), 73% of employers have prioritized hiring workers with AI skills, but many struggle to find the right talent. This skills gap has driven up salaries and compensation packages for qualified AI experts.

You can help fill this demand by learning AI skills and tools. Many websites offer online classes about core AI concepts, including deep learning and natural language processing. Earning AI certifications can also demonstrate your expertise to potential employers.

Another recent trend is edge computing, which reduces latency by processing data closer to the source. Augmented and virtual reality have also steadily gained popularity. Developing expertise in these in-demand areas could unlock new and lucrative career opportunities.

Pathways to Progress: Education, Training, and Beyond

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to career progression in the tech industry. Tech professionals can follow many pathways within a career progression framework.

Some people earn formal degrees in computer science, software engineering, or  related fields. A college education offers a structured curriculum and may provide opportunities to network with alumni and other professionals. But this option requires a significant investment of time and money.

Certifications are a faster and more affordable avenue for many people. These credentials verify your expertise and boost your credibility with potential employers. You can earn tech certifications in many areas, including AI, cybersecurity, and cloud computing.

Apprenticeships can also help you advance your career and expand your professional network. Multiverse’s apprenticeships allow you to gain practical, paid experience working for a leading company. You’ll also develop relevant technical skills through bootcamps, interactive modules, and hands-on projects.

Your career progression framework should also include casual opportunities for continuous learning. For example, you can subscribe to industry newsletters and attend short webinars about new technologies. These experiences help you stay informed about the latest trends without the commitment of more intense programs.

Your Journey Through Tech Starts Here

Don’t leave your career up to fate or luck. Take control of your professional journey by proactively charting your career path.

Start by creating a well-defined career progression framework. This document is your blueprint to success in the tech industry. It helps you identify your goals, develop professionally, and track progress.

As you design your career plan, look for opportunities to acquire relevant skills and experience. Multiverse’s upskilling program enables you to gain the necessary competencies to advance your career. You can also learn how to harness emerging technologies with the AI Jumpstart module.

Take the next step on your career journey by completing our quick application(opens new window). The Multiverse team will follow up to help you find the right apprenticeship.

Team Multiverse

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