Contributor Levels

🚧 This page is under construction and is considered incomplete 🚧

The guide provides detailed definitions for each contributor level. A contributor must satisfy the criteria specified here to qualify for a particular level. Please note that contributor levels are not reflected in a contributor's official title. For example, a contributor at the L3 Producer level, may have the title of Project Manager or Senior Engineer. Below are some definitions of key terms that will help in understanding this guide.

Key Definitions


A coordinator is responsible for pulling together the various parts of a project, or maintain the schedule of various events for an organization.


A supervisor is responsible for administering tasks and ensuring they are done properly and on time. [1]


A manager plays a strategic role in the collective, making decisions, setting goals and overseeing the overall success of the team. [1]

Individual Contributor

An individual contributor (IC) is a professional without management responsibilities who contributes to an organization independently to help support its goals and mission. While ICs must report to someone within the organization, an IC is not responsible for managing anyone except for themselves. An IC may manage of a process or project that they complete as part of a team or individually, but are not responsible for managing people. [2]


An expert is somebody who has a broad and deep competence in terms of knowledge, skill and experience through practice and education in a particular field. [3]


A leader is responsible for getting people to understand and believe in their vision and to work with their team to achieve its goals.

Factors That Determine Contributor Levels

Organizational Scope and Impact

The degree to which a contributor's actions affect the collective as a whole. This factor includes the level of responsibility a contributor performs, including the degree to which the work can create either positive or negative consequences for the collective. The effect of a contributor's actions on the collective through the nature of the work.[4]

Influence and Leadership

The level of supervision, management, or direction provided as part of the contributor's responsibility.[4]


The level and application of knowledge needed to perform the position. This factor describes the degree of expertise a contributor has in a field, discipline, or problem domain. [4]

Problem Solving

The identification and application of approaches to resolving problems and making decisions. This factor is concerned a contributor's critical thinking / logical reasoning skills, as well as their interpersonal and intercultural competencies. [4]

Independence of Action

The latitude the contributor has to make decisions as demonstrated by the level of review and instructions provided. [4]

Education and Experience

The level of education and experience necessary to effectively contribute. Education is gained by studying and training either through a formalized educational program or self-directed learning. Experience is gained while working in a job. [4]

Career Tracks

SPEC has two primary career tracks, the Individual Contributor (IC) Track and the Management Track. The IC Track is for contributors who want to work for the organization independently to help support its goals and mission, but not have to manage people directly. The Management Track is for contributors who are interested directly overseeing people, processes, and projects.

Level Descriptions

Please note that the title corresponding to the M2 level is "Lead". We also use the term Leader, to describe the primary role of an L3 contributor. Leadership is a skill that is important to both ICs and managers. There is overlap between the responsibilities of leaders and managers, which can result in confusion. For clarity, when we are referring to an individual at the M2 level, for example, Operations Lead or Research Lead, we understand the term Lead as a modifier and indicator of rank. The term Leader should be understood as the general concept of a contributor who has leadership responsibilities.

Contributor levels marked with the under construction emoji ( 🚧), are in development and not currently in use.

Individual Contributor Track

L1 - Associate

Individual Contributor responsible for completing assigned tasks, conducting research, project deliverables, providing feedback, and documenting learnings.

L2 - Specialist

Expert responsible for providing subject matter expertise, technical guidance, mentorship, and critical problem solving abilities.

L3 - Producer

Leader responsible for finding and launching a project, arranging financing, hiring contributors, coordinating with core team, and overseeing all elements of pre-production, production and post-production, right up to release of projects and services.

🚧L4 - Integrator 🚧

Systems thinker responsible for managing multiple technical programs and work streams simultaneously. Seeks to optimize processes, detect project risks, identify feedback loops, and develop systematic solutions that manage human and technical factors.

Management Track

M1 - Support

Coordinator responsible for supporting organizational development, ongoing projects, and providing peer support, mentorship, and guidance to junior contributors, new members, and external stakeholders.

M2 - Lead

Supervisor responsible for overseeing projects, operations, work streams, development processes, and execution of the collective's strategic plan.

M3 - Administrator

Manager responsible for directly managing contributors which includes coaching, mentoring, hiring, interviewing, performing performance reviews, regular feedback meetings, dealing with performance problems and terminations, and creating a collaborative work environment and psychological safe space for contributors.

🚧M4 - Principal 🚧

Strategic planner responsible for the collective's overall operations, organizational development, programs, strategic vision, and financial sustainability. Creates business strategies for the organization. A principal makes viable recommendations to help the collective reach its goals. They must know the ins and outs of the collective to successfully create and present business strategies to leadership and stakeholders.

🚧 Mixed Track 🚧

We recognize that many people's skills and knowledge don't always fit neatly into the IC and management tracks. For this reason the contributor levels includes the Mixed Track. Each level here combines roles and responsibilities from both tracks. A contributor on the mixed track may lean more towards IC or management, but performs duties in both areas.

MX1 - Support Associate

MX2 - Lead Specialist

MX3 - Administrator Producer

MX4 - Principal Integrator


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