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Proficiency - Level Descriptions

In the following descriptions a professional position is one which requires a university degree, a vocational position is one which requires specialised training leading to a trade qualification, or undergraduate diploma or certificate. A non-vocational position is a job which requires no formal accredited training, other than that which is provided at school, and relies on on-the-job and other learning experiences.

Consider proficiency levels in the context of the position's job family (examples of job families: finance and accounting, engineering, sales and marketing, administration, scientists, lawyers, heath care, manufacturing production). The highest level of proficiency required for a purely clerical role can be considered to be less than that required to manage an entire organisation. In this regard a cap is set on the highest level that should be recorded for certain job types. For purely clerical, trades and technical roles, Level 5 should be the maximum level considered. For single professional roles without subordinate staff Level 6 should be the general, maximum level considered. Level 8 would be for very highly qualified and specialised individual professionals.


The majority of new entrants to the workforce will be scored at Level 1, independent of the formal education requirements of the job. Few however would remain at this level for more than twelve months.

Exceptions are the professions that require advanced degrees, such as medicine, or law. In these cases new fully qualified practitioners, following internship or articles, would be scored at Level 2.

Jobs scored at Level 1, in the main, therefore include incumbents not only beginning to learn about the specific job requirements, but also about the working world.


At Level 2, for specialised positions, incumbents are further developing practical knowledge and skills under guidance or supervision, i.e. full competency in the position is not yet required. Here we would include for example, graduate engineers with one year's experience.

The proficiency level required for straightforward, closely prescribed elementary clerical, sales, service or manual positions would not progress beyond Level 2.


At Level 3, employees performing specialised tasks have sufficient practical knowledge to work independently on tasks and projects. Level 3 refers to tasks of standard difficulty for a vocation or trade, and includes fully competent intermediate and advanced clerical, sales, service and manual positions. Associate Professional and Professional positions requiring 3 years post qualification experience would also be recorded at this level.


Professional positions requiring 5 years post qualification experience would be recorded at this Experienced Practitioner level, although managerial or supervisory proficiency may not yet be a requirement. Seasoned non-professionals that do not have supervisory experience would also be accorded this level, examples include sales representative and Secretary to the Chief Executive Officer of most organisations.


Jobs at Level 5, Senior Practitioner, may require managerial or supervisory proficiency as well as substantial technical proficiency. Level 5 technical proficiency is usually reached with around 8 years post qualification experience.Level 5 is the highest level that would be accorded to a vocational (non-professional) position that does not have managerial or supervisory responsibilities, examples include a highly experienced artisan and Secretary to a Chief Executive Officer of a major corporation.


The Advanced Practitioner, Level 6, would apply to most function department heads where the function is not complete, and to the Chief Executive of a very small business. Level 6 also includes specialised professional positions where the technical knowledge is at such a level that the incumbent can be regarded as the final authority within the organisation in a particular field. This can include for example a portfolio manager in an investment fund, legal manager, specialised senior engineer, information services manager, senior medical officer, head of marketing research, and head of R&D.


Most jobs at Level 7, Expert Practitioner, have general management responsibilities. Here, general management is defined as the co-ordination and deployment of significant organisational resources and requiring a comprehensive understanding of the often conflicting internal and external influences on the application of those resources. For those jobs requiring management proficiency commensurate with the administration of a fully developed, major organisation function, such as the head of finance, manufacturing, service delivery, or marketing, Level 7 would be appropriate.

The Expert Practitioner level also applies to Chief Executives of organisations where functional areas are generally incomplete, or some do not exist, or where the Chief Executive is directly involved in one or more of the organisation’s functions (typically marketing, production/service delivery, or finance), rather than in a purely co-ordinating role.


The Senior Expert, Level 8, proficiency should be reserved for the functional heads of very large organisations and for Chief Executives of businesses where the number of employees exceeds about 250. When considering the Senior Expert level, one should assess the position with respect to management in the general community rather than in the context of the organisation itself. In a purely technical sense Senior Expert would apply to highly specialised advisory and professional position, such as a principal foreign policy adviser, a Queen’s Counsel, or a principal surgeon.


The Authority, Level 9, proficiency should be reserved for Chief Executives of businesses where the number of employees exceeds about 1,000.

In a purely technical sense, the Authority level would apply to an individual who was recognised internationally as an expert in their field.


Level 10, Leading Authority, in a management sense would apply to Chief Executives of multi-national corporations, and in a purely technical sense to an internationally recognised world leader in a particular field.

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