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Understanding Roles and Their Expectations

Different job experience levels distinguish those with a strong background in an industry from those who may still need guidance to succeed. For example, if you’ve worked in the same position for two or three years, your manager may trust you to train new hires.

After gaining enough experience, you may also obtain the knowledge and confidence necessary to pursue leadership positions in your field. For example, a successful creative director will need both strong interpersonal skills and a thorough understanding of design principles to lead a team successfully. Most people can gain these qualifications after several years of relevant experience.

Here are the most common work experience levels you might find listed in job openings:

  1. Entry-level

  2. Intermediate

  3. First-level

  4. Mid-level

  5. Senior or executive-level

How do job levels impact the workplace?

Job levels are used in the workplace to:

Create a structure for the hierarchy of a business

Job levels are meant to inform employees and outside contacts of how each employee contributes to the organization. They are used to maintain a reporting system that delegates the functions of a business from day-to-day operations to the long-term vision of a company.

Determine pay and experience needs for a position

HR managers help set job levels, including job descriptions based on responsibilities. They identify the experience and professional background needed and set salary expectations. Job levels are important to recognize current employees, too. They help define when an employee qualifies for a promotion, ensuring pay equity and consistent, fair compensation increases.

Delegate tasks and responsibilities

Executives and managers contribute to the expectations of each position, too. They may assess a team's or department's workflow and identify which tasks need to be assigned or reassigned to new team members. Job levels can help them define role responsibility which can impact decisions about promotions or dismissals.

Attract the best candidates for a role

Job levels also help prospective employees understand the responsibilities of the role they are seeking within a company, including day-to-day tasks and whether a position has supervisory responsibilities. They can also help prospective employees understand the career paths available at your company,



When you first join the workforce, you will likely start in an entry-level position. You can usually obtain this role right after finishing school, or you might get an entry-level job if you’re building a new career in a different industry. In an entry-level position, you’ll gain the skills and experience needed to achieve long-term success in your field. When acquiring this level of experience, consider building a network of reliable coworkers and managers who can become valuable references for future jobs.


After gaining a few years of experience in a specific field, you’ll become qualified to start applying to intermediate- or associate-level jobs. With this level of experience, your employer will be less likely to supervise you closely, and you may find more opportunities to work independently. This stage might also allow you to obtain some leadership opportunities. For example, after spending four years demonstrating your leadership skills on a team of web designers, your employer may promote you to the team lead.

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First-level Management

First-level management involves supervisory roles for both intermediate and entry-level positions. Those with experience and qualifications, like a four-year degree or trade school certification, fill these roles.


If you’ve reached a mid-level position, you will likely oversee the goals and achievements of one or more departments. Mid-level employees usually hold managerial roles within their company and ensure the day-to-day operations of an organization are running smoothly. They often report to higher or executive-level managers who may not personally oversee the specific objectives of each department.

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Senior or executive-level

To obtain an executive-level position, you will usually first need to work in the same field for many years and gain extensive experience in a managerial role. In this type of position, you’ll set overall goals for your organization, set policies and procedures and communicate with stakeholders. Earning an executive-level job often requires significant networking and proven skills in your industry.

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