career ladder

variants: or corporate ladder

Definition of career ladder

: the series of progressively higher positions that can be attained in one's working career conceived of as a ladder to be climbed toward greater responsibility and financial success … a twentysomething heroine working her way up the career ladder— Clarissa Cruz The more skills you acquire and use, the more you can earn – even if you don't jump to the next rung on the corporate ladder.— Jaclyn Fierman Like most successful women in the pop-music industry, Rhone, 42, started off answering phones and watching men climb the corporate ladder to success.— Lorraine Ali … the kind of resentment that a man who has spent his life climbing the ranks of a large bureaucracy feels toward a man who leapfrogs up the career ladder through a special and obnoxious blend of deferments and degrees.— Michael Lewis Today as vice-president and director of global diversity, she works with the office of the CEO to ensure that women and people of color with the potential to move up the corporate ladder are identified and groomed.— Rhonda Richards

First Known Use of career ladder

1835, in the meaning defined above

Learn More About career ladder

Time Traveler for career ladder

Time Traveler

The first known use of career ladder was in 1835

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near career ladder


career ladder

career move

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for career ladder

Cite this Entry

“Career ladder.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Nov. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon


Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!