The following scale is a scale used by the space-faring civilizations in my future novel series: the Extinction War, and for other future works. However, this can also be useful in other works of fiction, and hence here they are:
Tier 7 – Agricultural
Has harnessed agriculture, basic tools, construction methods, can understand basic functions of the Universe, and have limited weapons and/or environmental threats.
Tier 6 – Industrial
Can be capable of increased industrial production, more complex tools and construction methods, begins to slowly understand the increasing complexity of the Universe and have more advanced weapons and have to concern themselves more so with environmental threats. Have better medical and environmental understanding, as well as better understanding of the laws of physics. This is one of the first barriers to a successful interstellar civilization, as some theories of The Great Filter stipulate.
Tier 5 – Atomic
Can harness atomic energy and use it as a dangerous weapon, often leading to mass extinctions. This technological stage is characterized by the discovery and application of the fact that E=mc^2 The species is focused on clean energy development and this time period often leads to successful in-atmospheric flight done.
Tier 4.5 – Space
A sub-tier of the Atomic period, these species are capable of flight outside a planet’s atmosphere and can visit the planet’s orbit or any nearby moons should it have any. It can also send unmanned probes to other regions of the local solar system, and this sort of technology typically leads to the next tier.
Tier 4 – Information
This period is classified by an increase in computing power, advances in miniaturization and medical technologies, as well as the advent of modifying a species, via genetics, cybernetics or nanotechnology. This is often the final resting place of a species with advanced progress, as some often experience technological singularities. While some experience these technological singularities, others are still consequently destroyed by the fact that E=mc^2 from the previous period’s development time.
Tier 3.5 Genetic or Nanotech
While some species experience singularities during this point, others also begin to experiment with genetic manipulation and nanotechnology, which leads to new developments in medical science and with the information period’s increase in computing power, and the rise of microscopic machines, means that they could render concepts such as “money” and “wealth” obsolete, as observed with 2 of the major interstellar powers. This is not the case for most societies, despite the fact they can still experiment with these technologies.
Tier 3 – Space-Faring
At this period, the species can colonize its own local star system, and can harness the total energy output of their planet. They can also use fusion energy to power their needs. They can control a local planet’s weather, establish colonies on oceans and even send slower than light, non-relativistic interstellar spacecraft to colonize other star systems. This means generation ships, sleeper ships or even embryo ships can be commonplace for such a species. If the species has not yet experienced technological singularity from the previous points in its development, then this will likely be the point.
Tier 2 – Interstellar
A species such as this one can take advantage of relativistic speeds thanks to the advent of antimatter technology, and at this period, this normally refers to species that have achieved the Singularity, but non-Singularity species can also develop to this level. This species can harness more lethal weapons and as a result, can also become deadlier in combat.
Tier 1 – World-builders
This species can construct large feats of astro-engineering and can also alter the very fabric of space-time. This species can harness the energy of a star. This means that they can create wormholes, Dyson Spheres, Matrioshka Brains, Artificial Planets, etc. They can also create new forms of materials, using advanced nanotechnology and can even go as far as making a near-c version of Alcubierre Metric, which makes relativistic weapons a real possibility. However, to achieve this, you would have to experience a technological singularity, and is not achievable to a non-Singularity species, due to the fact that the power to manipulate space-time would be incomprehensible to any non-Singularity species.
Tier 0 – Galactic
This sort of species can conduct the same thing as world-builders, but have their use being more commonplace, and can harness the energy of an entire Galaxy. However, this stage is purely theoretical and no species has had yet to achieve this point. This is believed to be the maximum level a technological civilisation can achieve, although the possibility for extragalactic travel is being considered to a limited degree.