I work in a technology company that spans tech and biotech, and we are trying to define the growth career for career-technical employees within the company. We have a clear managerial growth path that is the standard sort of Lead -> Director -> VP - CXO, with relevant levels in between.

There are specific technical experts that are career individual contributors that we want to have organizational clout and a clear progression. What are some effective ways that people have seen this done?

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    Sorry, I didn't get what you are asking here. You say you want to make sure some individuals "follow" such career progression in your specific company? Please clarify – DarkCygnus Feb 16 '18 at 0:16

This is the wrong way of thinking about it. Techies don't want "progression". We're less hierarchial and more meritocratic. What we want is fun problems to work on (where fun is a mixture of difficulty, the problem itself, and the utility of the solution) and to be paid as well as we can be for it. I couldn't tell you what level anyone in my department has, including my own without reading my resume. It just doesn't matter- disagreements aren't settled on it (usually they're settled by consensus among the seniors), higher levels don't boss lower levels around (or at least not after the first year or two), and you're doing the same work with a half dozen years experience as you are with 20- its just the 20 years will know more tricks and pitfalls. And we like it that way- if we wanted to be "in charge" we'd be managers.

What we do like? Respect and money. Treat us well and keep raising our pay and we'll be happy whatever silly job title you attach to us. Don't do that and we'll be unhappy whatever job title you attach.

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  • I think the main point of the question is that it's easier to justify pay rises above a certain point to upper management if it goes along with a job title. This could reflect the level of experience and provide an indication of the value of the developer for the company that upper management can understand. – bytepusher Feb 16 '18 at 1:39

I've been in a number of places where there's been an explicitly technical career progression that is designed to parallel a management one. Usually it's some mix of "architect, distinguished engineer, technical fellow, senior technical fellow" kinds of titles.

It's valuable to show that there's a career progression that doesn't require going into management. If you're at a place that has "salary bands" it also allows enhanced compensation. And for the non-zero number of people who do glory in status, it gives them that. (I've seen people quite argumentative over their super-title, it's naive to say that "techies don't care about that.") Some folks don't care about it, that's fine, easier on you.

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