I am curious what type of job security the posters here have: While no one system is the best or a one size fits all, here are the basic breakdowns of some commonly found systems of employment or business models organizations work under. And these models are definitely subject to change in this downtrodden economy. In a nutshell, merit-based is the most typical system where a person/group/business either receives promotions/sales figures or gets the most customers/clients/patients based on skill, knowledge, and abilities (KSAs). This model is found most in a situation where a person or group of people have a business in a free market economy where there is competition. This model has no upper limit on compensation or reward. The big examples of merit-based is having a company like Apple (started by two college dropouts) and eventually introducing the iPod to the world and having customers vote with their dollars. In this time period, the merit of the products from a rather small company called Apple Computer has expanded the entity's employees by a factor of four and caused a name change simply to Apple Inc. representing the shift in percentage of revenues from computers to "other" which not only has iPod but iTunes downloads, and the very successful iPhone. Lockstep is a system most employed by civil service and many law firms where entrants are employees, contractors, or interns, and pretty much get the same range in pay, regardless of experience or KSAs, and usually have a more stable form of job security. There is a bottom rung of pay all the way up to a top level of pay (but with a limit so it's not a way to get rich but trade that opportunity for less stress and much greater job stability). Up and out is a system where a person is typically an employee and they are expected to move up within a certain period of time or leave. Like lockstep, there is a limit on level of pay and it is also not a system typically found among working people who achieve an upper middle class or wealthy status. The pay could be slightly better in some cases than lockstep as one can move up to a more elite level of employment within a closed system. Typical of this would be a soldier who can move up through the ranks quickly, but never higher than a four star general. Of course, this doesn't count a third world dictatorship where a general can also rule a country and receive billions in kickbacks as a result.