The Department of Health and Human Services released their Blueprint for allied health careers pathways earlier this year. That document covers a range of options for allied health professionals wishing to pursue a career that might be in a different direction to where they are currently headed.1
After reading it, it got me thinking how such a blueprint might be suitable beyond allied health. Indeed, how such a blueprint is almost ubiquitous across all careers. Particularly
- Streams are common to all roles and industries
- You can stay in your field but move sectors
- Keep connected, but change focus
- Upskilling or retraining or jobs can help you move
What are you? A technical
expert; a manager; a researcher;
an educator or a policy maker?
So, broadly speaking I think there are five streams that anyone, from any field fits into. They are not mutually exclusive. In fact, someone could live and/or work across all five. Here they are:
- Technical – The person who is the doer of the work. In health, it would be the allied health (social work, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, there are ten’s of professions in this group), nurses and medical practitioners. It could be people who maintain equipment. It could be carpenters. It could be salespeople. It could be accountants.
- Manager –The person overseeing others doing the work. They may have come from a technical role. They may not have. They count the key performance indicators. They try to keep people, departments and divisions on track. They look after the doers.
- Educator – Provides upskilling to all. But the focus is often on the technical people. Educators often work in primary or secondary schools, but might also be self-employer, work at TAFEs or universities or other vocational education providers. They could be employed within companies to maintain staff skills (often in the human resources/capital departments).
- Researcher – often thought of as academics, researchers are much broader than that. They can also focus on quality improvement. Keeping an eye on new developments in their field or facility. Trying to make things better, faster, cheaper, more accessible, quitter, smoother, smaller. The list goes on. They can research people, markets, fields, accounts, products services.
- Policy – often working in government, but not always. They set the frameworks that others work within or work too. They could make use of educators and researchers to develop and implement policy. They might also have those skills (and those cross multiple boundaries).
Of course, each of these has different levels of experience, from novice all the way through to expert and onto leader.
In my opinion, being aware of these different roles and opportunities is useful when thinking about career change. See, you might find yourself disliking the technical aspects of your role. But working with and managing people excites you. Thus, a transition to management could help you stay within your sector. So, look for those opportunities (e.g. project management role). Conversely, you might find management hard or boring. So, changing to a technical role might be better for you.
It is also worth thinking about these roles
when it comes to structure and staff development. In my experience, very few,
if any professions appropriately recognise their expert or leading technicians.
Instead, they promote them into management roles. Taking them aware from their
expertise and asking them to manage others.
What do you think?
Dr Richard Huysmans is the author of Connect the Docs: A Guide to getting industry partners for academics. He has helped more than 200 PhD students, early career researchers and established academics build their careers. He has provided strategic advice on partnering with industry, growing a career building new centres and institutes as well as establishing new programs. Richard is driven by the challenge of helping researchers be commercially smart. His clients appreciate his cut-through approach. He knows the sector and how to turn ideas into reality.
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1Disclosure – I played a part in the document’s research and development.