Your career is something that stays with you throughout most of your life. More often than not, your job is not just a means of earning a living but a source of personal identity, fulfillment, and social connections.

On average, a person spends a third of their life working, and it would be challenging to stay motivated if you remain stagnant with your career. As such, career progression is a goal you need to work for to make working worthwhile.

Career progression, often called career growth, is when a person advances in their career path. You develop the skills, knowledge, and experience to reach higher positions, which promotes job satisfaction, professional growth, and financial rewards. 

After all, if you spend many years of your life on it, you might as well be happy with the position, skilled at what you do, and well rewarded for your efforts. The following guide covers career progression, the benefits you receive, the challenges you might face, and the strategies to overcome them.

Career Progression vs. Career Development

While career progression and career development sound similar, and people sometimes use them interchangeably, the two are different. Career development is the act of improving yourself by learning skills, taking classes, or seeking a mentor that a person takes to achieve long-term professional goals.

On the other hand, career development is what you undergo to achieve a promotion or further advancement and primarily focuses on transforming the self. Career progression is a more quantitative strategy or milestone focusing on measurable outcomes.

Examples of Career Progression Paths

How your career progression path looks will vary significantly depending on the profession and industry, and there are often branching alternatives you can take.

  • Medical

For example, a registered nurse (RN) can take special lessons or pursue higher education to become a specialist type of nurse, like an emergency room RN, a nurse practitioner, or a surgical assistant RN.

  • Tech

In the tech industry, a software engineer can become a software architect, project manager, or technical lead, depending on the specialist training they choose. 

Such advancement typically requires additional education, training, and practical experience. Improving your professional capacities is the career development needed to achieve career progression.

Challenges and Strategies

Career progression can present challenges for hopeful professionals. One common challenge is a lack of advancement opportunities within the company. If you have no room to grow, you have no incentive. Another challenge is a lack of support or mentorship, which can hinder your ability to progress in your career. 

One or both issues could mean you have to seek opportunities for career growth or education outside your current organization. To overcome them, you may need to start networking, seeking mentors, or working abroad—if it’s within your means.


Being a people person can help you get career growth and development opportunities. The best way to start networking is to be approachable, friendly, and earnest. Additionally, you may learn about different company positions and get helpful tips from more experienced colleagues.

Sociability, in itself, is a skill that can help in any industry. After all, no matter where you end up working or your career path, you will always need to deal with others.

Having a broad network of contacts and good social skills can also help you with this strategy.

Seeking mentors

There are scant few things that can overcome or outperform hands-on experience in nearly any industry. If you can, find a mentor – a more experienced colleague, superior, or industry expert. No textbook, internet guide, or how-to video will fully capture a profession’s realities. 

Instead, reach out to those who have spent their professional lives in the field and learn what you can from them to help you sort the gold from the things you’ve only known in theory. Your mentor will also likely have more industry connections and can help you progress further and faster than you would have alone.

Working abroad

Getting work experience outside your home country can provide you with new skills, knowledge, and cross-cultural work and industry perspectives. This benefit can be beneficial in today’s increasingly global economy, giving you opportunities that may not be available in your home country.

Fortunately, many countries offer great opportunities for workers with the proper skill set. For example, working in Canada offers foreign employees a flexible and amenable work culture. You can choose to grow and flourish in your new professional setting.

Alternatively, you can take home your new insights and overcome the original dead end. Either way, you overcome both types of challenges.

From Stagnation to Success

Ignoring your career progression leads to stagnation, making you lose your passion for your work, experience burnout, or even lose the motivation to achieve more in life.

Achieving success in your career path takes much effort, careful planning, and some luck. However, the fruit of your labors is a career you can be proud of, challenging you to be creative and skilled and compensating you enough to live comfortably.

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