Promotion vs. advancement

Promotions differ from advancements in several key aspects. Generally, job advancements encompass developmental aspects while promotions encompass moving up to higher-level roles within an organization. Additional aspects that differ between promotions and advancements include:

  • Upward mobility
  • Compensation
  • Performance
  • Development

Upward mobility

The biggest difference between a job promotion and an advancement in your career is the opportunity for upward mobility. Typically, a job promotion means you move up in position while advancements in your career place emphasis on gaining more knowledge or developing a deeper understanding of your role. For example, an entry-level position tends to come with opportunities for upward mobility where employees can move up to more senior-level roles. While advances can help you qualify for a job promotion, you may remain in the same position.


Promotions often include a pay raise. Employers who offer higher-level roles know that with a more senior-level position comes a salary that reflects it. Career advancements generally keep employees at the same salary level.

For instance, a registered nurse promoted to a higher-level position such as a registered nurse manager earns a higher salary than in their previous role, especially since the higher-level job requires additional certification and training. Conversely, a registered nurse who wants to make a lateral move into a specific department like triage and emergency care may advance in this case, but their salary may remain the same.


Job promotions can come with some parameters. For one, employers usually expect employees to greatly exceed the general job requirements and show initiative and even leadership qualities that make them a candidate for promotion. Advances in your career, however, can encompass the tasks and responsibilities you take on to further develop your skills and expertise.

For example, voluntarily attending professional development training, spending extra time at the office mastering a new skill or offering to lead monthly team meetings are ways you can make advancements in your career. Then, these advancements can lead to a job promotion.


A job promotion is evidence of your readiness for a higher-level position within your organization. Making advances in your career, though, means taking steps to deepen your industry knowledge, improve your skills and make goals that help you develop in your career. While a job promotion proves you have achieved the qualifications necessary to move up in seniority, advancement is what you do to achieve that growth and development.