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September 15, 2023 - 7 minutes

Climbing the Tech Ladder: Professional Development Strategies for Tech Enthusiasts

Learn how to advance your tech career to where you want to go. 

Ironhack - Changing The Future of Tech Education


If you’re in tech, we already know you’re an incredibly driven individual with a passion for learning new things and staying on top of the newest developments in tech. After all, in such a fast-moving sector, you don’t have a lot of options: being driven and motivated are basic requirements for tech professionals! 

Even if you’ve landed your first job (or even your dream job!) in tech already, it’s never too early to look ahead and start thinking about what your career could become. Do you want to try out new areas? Or are you interested in advancing your skills to move up the professional ladder? No matter your focus, we have some incredibly helpful professional development strategies that can help you climb that ladder and get where you want to be, career-wise. 

In this article, we’ll explore some of the best ways to advance in your tech career, in addition to tips and tricks to overcoming those difficult situations in which you may find yourself. Ready? Let’s prepare ourselves to climb that ladder. 

An Overview of the Tech Sector

You’ve earned that computer science university degree or maybe just finished your UX/UI design bootcamp and you’ve landed your first job in tech. You show up the first day eager to learn and are floored by the number of developers or designers on your team. In your first meeting, you already learned so much. How is this possible? Aren’t all developers or tech professionals equal? Well: 

  • There are lots of levels to tech roles: because there are so many intricacies when it comes to tech and the responsibilities of tech professionals, you’ll find lots of roles with “Junior” or “Senior” attached to it; you’ll also quickly learn that the tech field demands knowledge in a wide range of areas, such as different programming languages, and you can expect to deepen your skill set as your career matures. 

  • Tech moves so fast: the most relevant skill 12 months ago may be completely useless now and that’s the beauty of tech. It’s a relatively new sector and one that is outdoing itself daily; for sectors like cybersecurity, for example, professionals need to be up-to-date with the latest hacking trends to effectively protect their company’s data. 

  • Tech skills are learned through practice: you probably learned a lot of theory in your tech education and maybe even worked on some of your own projects! But the tech field is one where you’ll become more and more skilled and confident through actually doing and with more and more time on the job, your skill set will reflect this experience. 

What is the tech ladder? 

It’s not an actual ladder, but the main idea is similar. The tech ladder is a representation of your journey in the professional world of tech, providing a visualization of how your career will advance over time. As you land a new job or learn a new skill, you advance a skill up the ladder and get closer to reaching your end goal. 

To define your personal tech ladder, consider these questions: 

  • What is your ultimate goal for your career? 

  • Are there certain milestones you wish to reach? 

  • Where are you starting off? 

  • What skills will you need to reach your end goal? 

  • Do you have dates for when you’d like to reach your goals? 

Write these answers down and then build your tech ladder, being realistic but ambitious so that your goals are clearly defined. It may seem unnecessary, but writing them down and actually creating this ladder can help you visualize the success you desire and help you work even harder for it. 

Professional Development Strategies for Tech Enthusiasts

With the usefulness of the tech ladder and professional planning clearly defined, let’s move into how to advance up that tech ladder and achieve your goals. Professional development strategies are a great way to do that; these short and long-term goals can help set up a helpful guide to how you can achieve your ultimate goal (what’s on top of the tech ladder!). These goals can be pretty much anything you deem necessary to achieve your aspirations, but usually come in the form of: 

  • Developing new skills

  • Improving current skills 

  • Becoming a leader 

  • Making more money

Tech professional development strategies 

Your specific strategies will depend heavily on your experience and career goals, but take a look at some of the most important ones and think about how you can adjust them to fit your situation perfectly.

Initiate the change you want to see

It’s easier to sit back and hope that a raise or promotion comes your way; in fact, it can be incredibly intimidating and challenging to take the first step to reaching your goals. But if you truly want to advance in your career, it’s on you to take that first step. This could come in the form of going to your boss and asking for new training on a specific tool or additional responsibilities; this could also be you offering to take on other duties outside of your role such as recruiting or volunteer work in your community. 

However, make sure you take on only what you can handle: you don’t want to offer to take on more work and realize that your work is declining in quality because of that. 

Network, network, and network

The professional world is all about connections and there’s no such thing as having too many connections! In the office, work to connect with other employees, even those outside of your team or department and create genuine connections where you can learn from one another. Outside of your job, you can use LinkedIn, conferences, or job interviews to meet others in your sector.

While making connections with everyone you meet seems like the best option, it’s important to focus on creating quality contacts over quantity; people you truly know and can rely on are those who could suggest a job opportunity to you in the future. 

Learn skills outside of your field 

As a data analyst, you just need to know skills related to data usage, right? Well, employers are starting to value soft skills as much as hard skills, in addition to skills entirely unrelated to the tech sector. Why? Well, tech is infiltrating every single sector and if you can offer skills in that sector in addition to what you know about your chosen area of tech, you’ll be unstoppable. 

Make sure to cultivate these other skills so that they’re strong and can be used to better your current responsibilities. After all, you want to advance and these additional skills can help you get there. 

Invest in your education 

Some of your career goals may be completely accessible through self-learning or your current role, but others may be impossible without guided learning, especially if you want to switch careers. But don’t worry: we’re not saying you need to go back to school for four years; today, the education sector is incredibly convenient, offering loads of online courses or videos that can help you practice new skills. 

If you are looking to move in a completely new direction, however, you may want to consider a bootcamp or another form of more guided and organized learning. Learning a completely new skill can come with a large number of challenges, especially if you’re trying to do it alone. Bootcamps can help you learn precisely what you need to know to switch careers without all of the nonsense that long and tedious courses entail. 

Check in with your goals

As we explained above, the tech ladder serves as a visual representation of your career goals and it isn’t for just one time use. Refer back to it as you advance and if you feel a bit stuck, choose actionable items to help you reach new heights. Most importantly, be realistic with yourself and don’t be afraid to reevaluate if something new is needed. 

Setting up regular check-in points can help you review your progress and see where you’re succeeding and what areas need a bit more focus and care. 

It seems easy, right? Create a job ladder and check back every once in a while is all you need, right? Unfortunately, it’s a bit harder than it might seem at first; however, it’s completely doable. But just in case you’re dealing with some challenges, let’s explore some common barriers to professional development and what to do in case you find yourself facing some. 

Barriers to Professional Development

The road to the top of your tech ladder isn’t going to be roses and butterflies and it’s best to prepare for what to do in case you get stuck. There are lots of things that could come up, but we’re going to cover some of the most common: 

  • Lack of self-motivation: your career success depends primarily on you and sometimes it can be hard to push yourself to take that extra step to ask for more work or learn a new skill on your own. Recognize that it’s a challenge for everyone and set realistic goals that you can achieve, such as studying for just 30 minutes a day or choosing a guided learning course for extra support. 

  • Lack of support: if your boss isn’t supportive of your desired development and isn’t open to you taking on new responsibilities or learning other skills, you may feel that you’ve reached a dead end. But you haven’t: try other methods such as networking and consider switching jobs to be in a place where your professional growth is encouraged and valued. 

  • Lack of time: taking on new duties at work or learning outside of your 9-5 demands a significant time requirement and you might have to sacrifice other commitments that you enjoy. Before you make any decision, evaluate your current schedule, taking into consideration the happiness or other benefits your other commitments provide, and make the right decision for your overall well-being. 

The tech sector is continuously growing and expanding, with new opportunities popping up practically every day. Your desired professional development is completely a reality and with these tips and tricks to advancing up that tech ladder, you’ll be on the right path for success. 

If you’re looking for a way to advance in tech without giving up your current responsibilities or role and adding new skills to your resume, our part-time bootcamps are the perfect option. You’ll be able to study on the weekends or at night, maintaining your current responsibilities while advancing your career on the side. 

Interested? We offer in-person and remote bootcamps in Web Development, UX/UI Design, Data Analytics, and Cybersecurity across the world. Pick your next step and get ready to fly up that tech ladder! 

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