Home > Engineering Ladders for career planning and coaching

August 29, 2022

Working in an IT company sometimes raises the question of how to coach people in their personal and professional development, esp. in engineering. Since experience levels may be varied it can pose a challenge to point out useful next steps and tailor learning offerings accordingly.

Thinking about this problem I recently came across these ’engineering ladders’. They come with a pre-set structure but the disclaimer indicates that each and every company or organisation has to come up with their own version of it:

I found them quite useful as a starting point to reason about meaningful levels and also to have good conversations around career choices and paths. ThoughtWorks (my former employer) had something similar where they would have some kind of matrix across roles (BA, dev, infra, ..) and grades (junior, professional, senior, lead, principal, ..) where each combination had a specific definition of what would be expected of that level.

There are many ways to think about development paths. Ladders or matrices may be a useful mental model.