What Is a Career Path? Benefits, Types, and Examples

Sandy Anugerah is a seasoned B2B writer specializing in work and employee content. Bringing expertise in crafting engaging, industry-relevant pieces that captivate audiences with insightful narratives.

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Most people don’t have a clue what they want to be, and those who do, don't even know where to start. Fret not, in this internet era, anyone can do and become anything if they put their mind into it. This includes mapping out a career path to your dream job, or position.

Before we go into any further, first thing first, start with defining your dream job. What is it that you want to do? What are you good at? What education/qualification will you need before applying for that position? What companies offer or need that position?

It’s best if you do a deep research into that dream job, find out what it takes to get there, what position to start, and whether you’ll meet that certain requirement needed for the job. From college degree, on-the-job experience, to a special certification, you may have to take note and prepare it beforehand.

What Is Career Path

A career path is a map of specific jobs, or experiences you’ll have to take to get to a dream job or position. Career path can be lateral or vertical, depending on the industry you’re working in. But in general, a constant vertical career path is what everyone is striving for.

Depending on where you are right now, you can start a career path both professionally and personally. 

Professional Career Path

Professional career path is a map of specific jobs within the company that you must climb from the bottom to the top. Large companies usually have prepared a career path framework for their employees, follow that line and coordinate with your direct superior to plan the long-term vertical movement.

To get there, you may be asked to help with special projects, take an additional skill development course, earn a specific certification, or maybe even shadow a colleague who already is in the said position to gain insight and learn from them.

Do a quarterly review with your direct superior, see if you’re still on track and whether you’ll need additional work/experience/skill to go to the next step. Make it a habit to continuously grow and learn everything there is needed to get to where you want to be in the future.

Personal Career Path

Personal career path is a more flexible approach in mapping out your career. It’s something you must define yourself based on your own skills, values, interests, hobbies, and passion. You can grow vertically on your own (self-employed) or jump into one company to the next.

If you already know what you’re good at, find out which industry that could benefit from your skill set and interest. If you’re an outgoing person who likes to network, go into sales, or consider a career path in insurance. If you like to do things by yourself, take that extra class and become a skilled worker in programming (IT) or writing (author).

If you’re still not sure what you’re good at, or what role you think will fit your personality, get a quick personality test. There are a lot of good personality tests out there, from Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, Enneagram of Personality, to Holland Code Career Test. Pick the test you’re comfortable with and check the result out. 

Why Is A Career Path So Important?

the importance of career path

Having a clear career path is important because it’s beneficial for both employees and the company/employer. Here are some of the benefits or career pathing:

For Employer

Companies or employer who implements career pathing for their employee may have to spend more resources to provide training and development, but those investments will provide an equal or even higher return such as:

  • Employee engagement will increase significantly when a company communicates their career pathing opportunities clearly and openly. Consistent offers in training or developing new skills for employees, and regularly asking feedback about their job satisfaction will make the employee feel heard and taken care of. In return they will be inclined to learn and work on more than just their own roles and responsibilities.
  • Employee retention will strengthen once they know that the company is invested with their progress and wellbeing. Employees will not have the need to look outside for growth, that means the company can keep their star talent happy and productive. It’s common knowledge that the longer an employee stays with the company, the greater is your return on the investment! 
  • Employee loyalty will also increase, this means no matter what offer the competitor dangle in front of your employee, they will still choose to stay with the company. It’s because they have a long-term view about their position within the company they work for, and they are already highly invested in the company. A loyal employee will do everything they can to see their company succeed and goals achieved.

For Employee

Employees who already map their career path will have clearer goals to conquer. They will also feel more positive toward the ever-changing future. Here is some other benefit of career pathing for employees:

  • Clear steps on what needs to be done and skill to increase will reduce anxiety about your future within the company. You don’t have to worry and wonder whether you’ll get that promotion, as long as you stick to the plan and perform brilliantly, that dream job or position is only a matter of when.
  • Increase in productivity and stronger motivation will push you to become better. This means your value within the company will increase as well. When you’re working toward your own growth in climbing the career ladder, you’ll tend to be more rigorous and purposeful in every step of the way.
  • Feeling secure about your employment is something that no money can buy. A good support from the company who appreciates and acknowledges your value will free you of any fear about having to change jobs just to get a raise. 

Types Of Career Path

There are four types of career paths, each with its own traits, but some types may overlap with each other. Each type of these career paths requires a specific set of qualifications to perform their duties.

  • Knowledge-based career path: IT professionals, engineers, HR, and marketing people will need to acquire the know-how over the years and inside knowledge in their industry to build their career.
  • Skill-based career path: Architects, chefs, artists and performers are some of the people who understand how a specific job function operates. They are hands-on, physical, and service-oriented in building their career.
  • Cross-functional career path: Doctors, lawyers and psychologists are those who will need both knowledge-based and skill-based career paths to thrive in their industry. Not only do they have to be good at what they do over time, they also must have specific knowledge as well.
  • Independent career path: Freelancers or independent contractors may have an unorthodox career path, but they do have it as well. Graphic designers, copywriters, consultants, and photographers are some of the freelance workers that need to perform a specific job or project to get ahead.

Examples Of Career Path

A career path does not always go up, it could be lateral or even downward, depending on the person’s commitment and willingness to take on the responsibilities. But in general, a career path shoots upwards vertically. From the bottom, to the very top. Here are some examples of a career path:

  • Human Resources: HR Assistants ↗ HR Specialist → Labour Relations Specialist → Training & Development Specialist ↗ HR Manager ↗ HR Director ↗ VP of HR ↗ Chief of HR 
  • Administrative: Data Entry → Receptionist ↗ Administrative Assistant ↗ Executive Assistant → Executive Secretaries ↗ Administrative Service Managers → Office Managers ↗ Head of General Affairs
  • Sales: Sales Representative ↗ Account Executive ↗ Senior Account Executive ↗ Account Manager ↗ Marketing Manager
  • Accounting: Billing/Posting Clerk → Accounting Clerk → Auditing Clerk ↗ Accounting Staff ↗ Accountant → Auditors ↗ Senior Accountant ↗ Accounting Manager ↗ Senior Accounting Manager ↗ Partner
  • Lawyer: Summer Associate → Law Clerk ↗ Paralegal ↗ Junior Associate ↗ Senior Associate ↗ Partner ↗ Managing Partner
  • Construction: Field Engineer ↗ Construction Superintendent ↗ Sustainability Consultant ↗ Construction Manager ↗ Construction Project Manager ↗ Site Engineer ↗ General Contractor ↗ Construction Project Director

Mapping your own career path, whether it’s within a company or on your own is not a simple task. It will require support from your superior or support system.

Think about it thoroughly, and make sure you know exactly where you’re going. Even though career progression is something that comes naturally, an engineered one will have the bigger chance of success. Start mapping your career path now.

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