Promotion? 4 Jobs that Quickly Promote Employees to Managers

target hiring sign

A hiring sign outside a Target store | Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

American employees are eager to get ahead at work, but many are hitting a wall when it comes to earning that much-anticipated promotion. A lack of opportunities for advancement was the number one reason people left their most recent job, according to a 2015 LinkedIn survey. Jobs that promote employees are in short supply, it seems, and many managers are clueless about their staff’s long-term career goals.

Forty percent of managers never bother to discuss their employees’ career path, a 2015 survey by professional services firm Robert Half found, even though 45% of workers would like to have a conversation about their goals at least once per year, and 37% want to be talking about advancement opportunities quarterly. Eventually, people who hope to advance will look for jobs elsewhere.

“Employees who don’t know when they’ll earn a promotion or raise, or understand how they fit into a company’s long-term strategy aren’t likely to stick around long,” Paul McDonald, senior executive director for Robert Half, said in a statement.

If advancement is on your mind, picking the right career path will help you achieve your goal, especially if you hope to move up the ladder quickly. In some companies and careers, promotions rarely happen, while at others, bumps in title and salary happen with greater frequency. If you’re hoping to go from entry-level to manager fast, consider a career in one of these four fields, which tend to quickly promote employees.

1. Consulting

businessmen at a meeting

Consultants in a meeting | Source: iStock

When employer-rating site Glassdoor ranked the best companies in the U.S. for career opportunities, three big consulting firms came out on top: Bain & Company, Boston Consulting Group (BCG), and McKinsey & Company. Reviews of all three companies praised the opportunities available for professional development and training.

“Promotion speeds are unheard of if you’ve ever worked a regular company,” one BCG employee noted in his review on Glassdoor. “[A]s a younger employee you will not find another place that will push you harder, grow you faster, and advance you faster,” according to a McKinsey employee.

While big consulting firms offer opportunities for star performers to move up the ranks, those who don’t perform as well will find their career in the industry cut short. “If you are perceived as good enough to one day make partner, you will progress to the next level. If you are not perceived as good enough, they will ask you to leave,” according to Firmsconsulting, a training company that helps people land jobs as consultants.

2. Professional services/accounting

Three of the big four accounting and professional services firms also appeared on Glassdoor’s list of companies offering excellent career opportunities. PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), Ernst & Young, and Deloitte were ranked 10th, 14th, and 15th, respectively, on the 2013 list.

“If you are young, smart and willing to work hard, the sky is the limit as far as career growth opportunities,” wrote a PwC employee on Glassdoor. “[You] can really progress your career quickly once you get in the door,” according to an Ernst & Young employee.

Working long hours and quickly learning new skills is key if you hope to advance in this industry. Otherwise, you can expect to be looking for a new job in a different field. “At a Big Four firm, your career is usually only heading in one of two directions: You are either moving up, or moving out,” Chris Barrett, president and founder of MindStaff, told eFinancialCareers.

3. Restaurants and food service


A Chipotle restaurant in Manhattan | Photo by Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images

Nearly three quarters of young workers in the restaurant industry have moved on to higher-paying positions since landing their first job in food service, according the National Restaurant Association (NRA). Some of that advancement happens when employees move to more senior positions at other restaurants, but other businesses focus on promoting from within. At Chipotle, nearly all managers are recruited from among the chain’s current employees, according to Quartz, and advancement can happen quickly. Overall, the NRA claims that 90% of salaried employees in the restaurant industry started out as hourly workers.

Advancement opportunities aren’t universal for food service workers, however, and those in the fast food industry may find it particularly difficult to advance, according to a report from the National Employment Law Project. Eighty-nine percent of fast food jobs are for positions like cashiers, cooks, and delivery workers. Just under 9% are for supervisors, and moving up to become a franchise owner is even more challenging.

4. Retail

Working as a sales clerk doesn’t have to be a dead-end job. Some employees work their way up from entry-level positions to become store and district managers, while others are able to move into positions in the corporate office. “People who make careers in retail, who are stable, reliable employees are generally promoted quite rapidly and see their wages rise through the course of their careers,” claims the National Retail Federation.

As with food service, though some retail employees can move up quickly, others may find themselves stuck in entry-level positions. Walmart, one of the biggest employers in the country, promoted 163,000 hourly associates in 2013, according to the NRF, a fraction of the 1.1 million associates working in their stores.

If you do want to move up quickly at your retail job, let your supervisor know about your goals and seize opportunities to take on additional responsibilities. “If you want a promotion, make it known that you are willing to do anything. Set yourself apart from everyone else by taking the initiative and doing more,” advises Christopher Murphy, a former retail professional in Morehead City, North Carolina, told

Follow Megan on Facebook and Twitter

More from Money & Career Cheat Sheet: