There is no such thing as career path.
I wrote this several years ago. And I believe it's still true. For those who don't understand why I wrote such thing, please spend few minutes to read that blog post before leaving nasty comment. (This means: you still can leave nasty comment after reading that post :))
Allow me to share my secret: patience is not my virtue.
Every time I want to change to new position, or to new job title, I move to new company. Some of my previous employers offered me promotion the moment I gave them my resignation letter. Some of them simply didn't care and just let me go. For those who offered me promotion, I never accepted the offer. I thought they should have offered that while I was still with them, not at my last moment in the company when I usually had decided to leave.
There was a time I even worked as independent contractor. Had to deal with the customer directly, defined the scope by myself, set the performance index, and delivered end-to-end solution to customer. No job title. No career. Hmm, good old days. Even it was only for several months before I got back into corporate job.
Eventually I managed to get promotion in one company. And the truth is, when I was given the new job title I didn't feel like it was a promotion. Because I've been doing the scope of work and assuming the responsibility of that new title for years, long before the company really made it happen.
So here is the complete statement: there is no such thing as career path for technical people, who still believe the only way to go up is by working hard in their current position. Most techies believe if they work hard and be good on what they do, somebody will eventually notice and give the reward.
I don't believe such thing exists anymore.
You may disagree as the experience is different for each individual. But based on my own experience, I can suggest you the following to get the promotion or target position you always dream of:
1. Define the target position you want to be
2. Assume responsibility and work with the scope of that target position, regardless of your current position or job title
3. Get the right attention from the right people
What is my next target position, you may ask?
I want to be able to put the title in my business card just as Mark's.
How about you?