The Levels Of The Profession – What Level Are You At?

by Bryan Merritt

6 days and one hour ago

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If you are young into your chosen craft you have much to look forward to. Your career path is ahead of you. It’s exciting. You are ready to apply your skills and knowledge for the betterment of the world. But as I sit back, being a bit long in the tooth in my chosen profession, I have reflected on how my role has changed from when I entered into the craft. So for those of you that have been around long enough to know what “long in the tooth” means or for those that have your whole career before you, I offer you my levels of the profession.

What do I mean by levels of the profession? These levels are attributed to the role you play in your career at a certain point in time. No matter where you are on your career path, have you ever noticed as you have advanced through your profession how your job changes? I believe there are five levels in all, and  they are:

Level 1 – Entry

This is the level where you first got into the business. Fresh out of school, ready to apply everything you know.  This is the reason you spent LOTS of money on school. This is what you wanted to be. This is where it’s FUN!

Level 2 – I’m experienced

This is the level you crave more responsibility. You are ready to prove yourself more. You are ready to take it to the next level. You are still doing what you love and it’s still fun, but at times a few more work related headaches come up. As the responsibility level rises, so does the accountability level. You are still good with that though, because you are getting respect and it’s still fun!

Level 3 – I’m ready to run the show

You have garnered the respect from level two and you’re ready to manage a project. As you enter level three you are learning so much! You are gathering experience in budgets, managing deadlines and deliverables, and clients! WOW, clients. You are learning that they can be demanding, unreasonable and sometimes just downright a pain in the $$$. At this level you are still having some fun because you are learning A LOT! But you are not doing a lot of the work you love. You are pushing more documents around, you are managing differing personalities, and you’re managing your time and everyone else’s. You get to see what’s being done, but you are not doing much of the fun stuff anymore. This level is a bit tougher because you are now the project manager.

Level 4 – Another step up the ladder

You have mastered level three! You know it and your boss knows it; you are ready for the next step up the ladder, department manager. You’ve made it! Wow, congratulations. Your hard work has paid off. You’ve earned it. You’re ready to lead your team to great success. This is going to be fun! As you settle into this level, things are going great. The team is responding. Then accounting tells you it’s time to invoice. You are reviewing and preparing invoices now. OK, no big deal. Remember that pain the $$$ client? Guess what, he hasn’t paid his invoice that you prepared. Now you have to call them and collect. Ugh. Your boss now comes to you to prepare a resource plan for the next quarter and prepare your annual business plan for the following year and a plan for where the work will come in the door from. Next thing you know you sit back and say to yourself, “When did my job become being an accountant, business manager and marketing guru. Where did all my technical fun go?”

Level 5 – Top of the heap

You have done well in level four! You still don’t understand what happened — how you went from being a technically savvy superstar to an accountant, business manager and marketing guru — but you go with the flow because you’ve made it! You’re respected and talented. So guess what, you have been tagged to go to the next level, level five. You are now the group/regional manager. WOW, you are respected by your firm. This is a great honor. But wait, there’s more. Contracts start coming across your desk to review. What is indemnification language? Why is this print so tiny? Wait, who is this walking in your office? It’s the HR director. Some of your staff are having HR issues. Oh no! Now some of your direct reports don’t want to work with your other direct reports. You are now attorney, human resources and psychologist. You’ve made it and what happens to those who made it? Many times they are soooo ready to go back to level one and have fun — the fun that you wanted to have for your career.

Does any of this ring familiar? Are the levels of the profession a bad thing? I think not. It’s just the natural order of things. This is just one surveyor’s take on the business environment. For those long in the tooth, I would be interested in your take on this. For those of you in your early stages of your career, this may be what is in store for you. Enjoy the ride. I have and I am glad to be here!

Bryan Merritt

Bryan Merritt is a professional land surveyor licensed in New York and Florida with more than 25 years of experience in the geospatial industry. He is the corporate manager for Erdman Anthony’s Geospatial Services Group and also serves as vice president of the U.S. Institute of Building Documentation (USIBD), a nonprofit organization that brings together an extensive cross-section of stakeholders who share a passion to further excellence in the building documentation industry with regard to standards and other matters.


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