This is a great question. I am in nearly the same point in my career, about 15 months total in QA and honestly my career is taking off like a rocket in my mind.
The steps I follow are rather simple.
Learn something new constantly
This can be difficult depending on the situation you are in with your company and your experiences. I was an API tester with some personal development experience. I decided to create a GUI and a framework for the API and Data preparation that just made my job and the job of the people around me a lot easier and more efficient.
I did that in my personal and spare time at work so that I could still achieve all of my desired results from my daily tasks.
Be adaptable and flexible
By this I mean do what it takes to stand above the rest. Chances are you are one in at least 100 - 200 people in your department. When the person in charge of your department thinks of you, what will he think of? Will it be he is one of my testers or will it be he's the guy that gets stuff done. You want to be the second one. Always look for things to do, ways to productively spend your spare time and drive the department. For example, a couple weeks ago I went ahead and cleaned out my department's lab.
Learn the SDLC
Having experience with the Software Development Life Cycle as a whole will be extremely beneficial. A lot of people have expertise in their portions of the SDLC but have no clue what role others play in it. This gives you a huge advantage over others in your field since you can understand what the developers, PMs, BAs, SAs and such are looking for in the project. It also gives you the ability to have compassion and respect for their crucial roles in the project.
Find your niche
This is probably the most crucial. Find the area in your company where you stand out above the rest. This doesn't even have to be something directly related to your position. But it is important to be the best at something. Whatever it might be, make sure you are the best in your company.
When you combine all of the above together you get a couple of basic traits that will lead to a successful fruitful career.
- Adapt and Overcome
- Be the go-to guy
- Understand your co-workers jobs