I am a developer for a large manufacturer. 85% of our software is off-the-shelf, and primary support is either through the vendor or an off-shore consultant, with the remaining systems home-grown. Most of the folks in IS are business analysts and management-types. I would like to stick with this employer for a bit longer, but the lack of a clear career path for technical IS workers is an issue.
(This is not just an issue for me, but a recognized need. There is management support for major revision of the technical career model.)
For the few technical folks within IS, there isn't a clear career ladder or path for moving to positions of larger scope and higher responsibility. There is a career management document which is good for junior developers. It describes the progression from performing specific assigned tasks to leading small projects and working without immediate oversight.
But the career ladder--as documented and in reality--breaks down past that mid-career point. Past the 'expert with 5 to 10 years experience' there isn't any where to go other than in to non-technical management or out of the company.
Most of my career has been at smaller companies without a formal career ladder and promotion process. This was never an issue for me--I was changing companies every few years and was able to move in to positions of increasing responsibility (and compensation) without ever getting a promotion.
Now that I am looking to settle down, I would like to have an active roll in shaping the career model. But I do not have any first hand experience of a functioning technical career ladder or promotion process.
What should the IS career model for developers in a non-technical company look like? What steps should be in the career ladder? Can there be a technical career path for developers at such a company?