Bob Pusateri describes a common promotion path:
But one piece of career growth that I’ve never gotten from any employer is a promotion.
Allow me to define “promotion”. In my mind, a promotion is where an employee earns a change in job title with commensurate increase in responsibility. I won’t even say it has to include an increase in pay, though I imagine it often would. Similarly, a promotion need not involve moving into a management position. Simply put, to me a promotion is doing a great job as a junior widget maker and then one day being told your hard work and contributions have been noticed and you are no longer junior.
This is pretty common. As an example of the other side of the coin, I’ve been promoted (using Bob’s definition) at two separate companies. But in a lot of cases, hierarchies in engineering teams have nearly disappeared, such that there’s no longer a Software Developer 1 who can be promoted into a Software Developer 2, and then a 3 and a 4, and then an Enterprise Architect 1, etc. Instead, out is the new up.
The funny part of the pattern is that I know people who have left a company in order to move up. Then, after some time with the new company, they return to the old company in a higher role.