The term "career ladder" refers to an employee's ability to move up within a company or industry over time as new skills are acquired and new qualifications are earned. The benefits of climbing the career ladder include more responsibility, better pay, more power within a company or industry, more job satisfaction, and much more. The job candidate will often start with an entry-level position at the "bottom rung" of the ladder, and work his or her way up through a series of better positions until he or she reaches the "top rung" where the most satisfaction can be gained.
Not all entry-level positions will allow a candidate to climb the career ladder. Some positions only allow for lateral mobility, which means an employee may take another position within the company, but it will not be any higher or lower than the previous position. Climbing the career ladder implies that the employee will be improving his or her standing within the company or industry, receiving more incentives and better pay for the effort. The climb may take several months or several years, depending on the success of the employee, and there is no guarantee that the employee will rise to his or her desired position.
The ways in which a person climbs the career ladder can vary. Some people take part in specific training sessions offered by the company that allow that employee to improve his or her skills or even develop new ones. Formal training and professional development opportunities are certainly one way to climb the career ladder, but they are by no means the only options. A person can improve his or her job situation simply by working hard and showing managers he or she is ready for a promotion. Networking is especially important: candidates who have strong interpersonal skills are more likely to improve job standing by developing solid relationships with managers or other superiors.
Of course, if an employee gets fired or leaves a company, there is a possibility that he or she will need to start over again at the bottom rung. Some people are fortunate enough to make a lateral move between companies or even move up the career ladder, but in other cases, if an employee chooses to leave a company, he or she may have to take many of the same steps over again to earn good standing within the company and climb the ladder.