In the tech industry, we use progression frameworks (or ‘career ladders’) to guide the development of engineers’ careers.

A career ladder usually consists of Designations (Software Engineer, Product Manager, etc.), Levels, and Expectations, to measure, develop, and evaluate performance.

A typical Software Engineering (SWE) career ladder:

  • SWE, SWE II and Sr. SWE: The first three, and most common, levels in Software Engineering;
  • Staff: They lead deep, complex, or high-risk technical projects;
  • Principal: They guide the technical direction of the company;
  • Distinguished and Fellow: Such levels may exist in large organizations. Like Principals, they guide the technical vision of the organization. Usually, there is no standardized way to achieve this.

For each level in the ladder, companies define a set of expectations. Engineers may take them as a reference for personal development, and those expectations are usually evaluated in performance review cycles.

Progression Frameworks

Some interesting resources covering career ladders in the tech industry:

Climbing the Ladder

There are tons of references online on how to develop yourself as a software engineer. Here I share a few posts and articles that I think are valuable to help engineers progress in their careers.