Creating a transparent career ladder for your engineering org
A reference for Engineering levels, competency matrices, and pay bands
Despite the perennial desire to have a clear pathway to leveling up at an organization, most small to medium companies do not have standardized levels. Realistically, if you have a team of 10 engineers or more — it’s time to consider putting one in place.
A transparent career ladder is an important tool to provide clear expectations and guidelines for the skills and competencies that are required at each level, as well as the corresponding pay bands.
This helps engineers understand what they need to work on in order to advance in their careers, and it also helps managers make informed decisions about promotions, bonuses, salary increases, or even potentially letting go of personnel.
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By creating a leveling system, you can foster a sense of fairness and opportunity within your engineering team(s) and ensure that your org has the right talent in place to align with its strategy.
As a practical exercise, I created a reusable template, including levels with sample titles, a competency matrix largely in part borrowed from Managers Path author Camille Fournier but modeled after SPACE (the dev productivity framework), corresponding pay bands, and a sample growth model that can provide a sensible forecast for your personnel budget.
In the worksheet, you’ll note that there are 10 levels as a practical start that allows for more frequent promotions — as well as two separate tracks for IC’s and Managers.
If there is no org management and leveling system in place at your company, and you have 10 or more engineers — this is a great place to start and mold the spreadsheet into your own.
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