Climb the corporate ladder

A man staring at a large ladder
Icon of man on the wall behind a ladder.

corporate ladder describes the series of promotions from lower-level to higher-level positions in an occupation. When you climb a ladder, you go up one rung at a time until you reach the top. So to climb the corporate ladder means that you start at a low-level position but keep moving up into higher-level jobs, one promotion at a time.

Some examples of ways to use this phrase:

  • Some people decide not to climb the corporate ladder because they would rather focus on other areas of their life instead.
  • Even though I have to change locations, this move is another step up the corporate ladder for me.

People sometimes talk about climbing the corporate ladder in a negative way, like,

A: My cousin is really interested in climbing the corporate ladder so he can have more money and afford things like boats and fancy cars.
B: Wow, I’d rather spend my energy enjoying life than use it up climbing ladders!

Did you know? Another way of saying this is "career ladder". "Career path" is a generic way to express the trajectory of a person's career, which can be winding and unsteady, nothing like a ladder!