Building IT Career Paths by Standardizing Competencies

This post describes our journey to building standardized IT career paths.  When I joined the American University of Sharjah in September 2012, I booked one to one meetings with all my staff.  One of the predominant themes from our talks was the lack of clarity on what their respective career paths looked like.   In fact, they didn’t feel like they had accurate job descriptions and job titles to start with.

We are now completing our first performance appraisal process and I have the opportunity to build standardized career paths for our IT team members. If you have read my blog, you know that I am a big fan of models that provide standards and structure.   In the performance appraisal system, we have a section that captures the competencies of each job description.   This is where I started our work to build standard competencies by job description.  In the process, I am standardizing levels so that we have 3 or 4 levels for each functional role in IT.

Some of the principles that I used to build the laddered competency tracks were:

  • Focus on more difficult to define soft skills (technical skills are easy to define for IT roles) because we don’t pay enough attention to the human side of IT work
  • Show that some competencies carry forward to jobs with higher levels of responsibility
  • Highlight the change in competencies required for the next highest level job
  • Show the linkage between career paths so that a person could understand that each path is not independent

The table below shows the IT Career Paths we are proposing:

IT Career Path Matrix

Level  Admin PMO Client Services MIS Network Systems Telecom Management
Level 0 Student Worker
Level 1  Administrative Assistant Network Technician Telecom Technician
Level 2  Technical Services Coordinator Client Support Specialist I Database Developer I Network Engineer I Systems Engineer I Telecom Engineer I
Web Engineer I
Level 3 Project Manager Client Support Specialist II Database Developer II Network Engineer II Systems Engineer II Telecom Engineer II
Web Engineer II
Level 4 Senior Project Manager Senior Client Support Specialist Senior Systems Analyst Senior Network Engineer Senior Systems Engineer Telecom Architect  Team Leader
IT Database Service Architect
Level 5 Associate Director
Level 6 Director

This is the first in a series of posts.  I will create posts for each career path with the job competencies so that you can see where this approach is going.  My goal is to provide a clear understanding and approach for IT staff members to progress in their careers.  As always, I welcome your suggestions and feedback.