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Career Ladders and Lattices

Career ladders and lattices are devices that help people visualize and learn about the job options that are available as they progress through a career. Career ladders and lattices consist of a group of related jobs that comprise a career. They often include a pictorial representation of job progression in a career as well as detailed descriptions of the jobs and the experiences that facilitate movement between jobs. Career ladder/lattices are not necessarily organization-specific; they frequently span multiple organizations because movement within one organization may not be possible.

Career ladders display only vertical movement between jobs. In contrast, career lattices contain both vertical and lateral movement between jobs and may reflect more closely the career paths of today's work environment.

Career ladders/lattices may be used in a variety of ways. For example, they may be used to:

  • attract individuals to an industry by showing potential career progression beyond entry points,
  • focus workforce development efforts,
  • show workers how different jobs interconnect within careers in an industry, and
  • inform workers about the training, education, and developmental experiences that would enable them to accomplish their career objectives.
Competency Model Clearinghouse

The U.S. Department of Labor's Competency Model Clearinghouse external site features a tool that enables customers to incorporate O*NET occupations and information within a customized Career Ladder or Lattice. To view examples of Career Ladders/Lattices as well as to access the tool, see the Sample Career Ladders/Lattices external site page.