Career Advancement

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When we discuss advancement within the context of career development, it refers to the upward trajectory of an individual's career. It can mean growth in a single occupation, for example from an entry-level job to a management position, which comes after gaining experience, completing additional training or earning certification. Advancement may also come in the form of a career change from one occupation to a related one that has greater responsibilities and requires more experience and education.

An example would be a physical therapy aide who goes to school to become a physical therapy assistant. When you are exploring an occupation, it is important to learn about the advancement opportunities that are available.

Why You Need to Know About Advancement

If you are someone who needs new challenges and increasing responsibilities, you will become bored if your career lacks the opportunity to advance. Your boredom will likely lead you to become dissatisfied with your career. Eventually, you will have to make a choice about how to proceed. You can change your career or you can spend your days unhappy with your work. Many people stay stuck with a dissatisfying occupation because making a change isn't easy. It takes time, energy and money to do it.

When reading a description of an occupation, look at the section on advancement. If you can't find that information there, you may have to look elsewhere.

Do informational interviews with people who work in the field you are thinking about, especially those who have been doing it for a while. Ask them how their careers have changed since they started working. Find out what they expect to be doing in the future. Keep in mind, though, that while an occupation offers opportunities to advance, not all employers readily do.

You will have to advocate for yourself if you have a boss who is reluctant to promote from within, or you may have to look for a job elsewhere.

How to Advance at Work

  • Ask your boss to assign more challenging work to you.
  • Regularly look at in-house job listings for positions with greater responsibilities. Make sure you qualify for them before you apply.
  • Unless it is against company policy, offer to help out with other projects. Doing this will give you a chance to prove yourself to your boss before he or she commits to giving you a promotion.
  • Ask your mentor for advice. Oh, you don't have one? Getting guidance about matters such as this is one of the best reasons to have a mentor.
  • Find out what additional training and certifications can help you advance in your career and then pursue them if you can. Find out about your employer's tuition reimbursement policy. Your organization may foot the bill for your continuing education.

Is Anything Wrong With Being Happy Where You Are?

Career advancement isn't for everyone so don't worry that something is wrong with you if you don't crave a climb up the corporate ladder. You may simply not be management material, and that's okay. You should be aware, however, that a lack of desire for career advancement, doesn't necessarily mean you won't get bored with your job.

If you do, you should consider making a lateral move within your organization. Your job duties will change, but you won't have greater responsibilities. Unfortunately, this may mean your salary probably won't increase either.

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