DANIEL H. ANNA, PhD, CIH, CSP, is president of AIHA and senior industrial hygienist at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md. He can be reached at (240) 228-1980 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Practical Guidance: The AIHA Career Stages Project
BY DANIEL H. ANNA, AIHA PRESIDENT
AIHA has a new tool to help us align our resources and development opportunities with the needs of members at all stages of their careers. The AIHA Career Stages program encourages professional certification but also supports attainment of other specialized competency-based credentials such as registrations. The volunteer group that developed the content for this program defined four stages in an industrial hygienist’s career:
- Student/Intern: in this stage, the future IH learns the fundamentals of the profession and prepares to enter the workplace.
- Early Career Professional: IHs in this stage continue to master core competencies and apply them in the workplace.
- Professional: This individual is a CIH or working toward attaining the CIH or has the equivalent experience and skills. The Professional develops, implements, and evaluates comprehensive IH programs.
- Senior Professional: This individual has significant experience in leadership and management, including management of large-scale IH programs.
In addition to defining technical skills for each stage, AIHA Career Stages also outlines skills in leadership and management that, when paired with technical expertise, propel industrial hygienists along their career trajectory. Management skills include skills in communication, time management, training, and supervision. Leadership skills include such things as directing teams, mentoring and being mentored, and managing projects.
The AIHA Career Stages program encourages professional certification but also supports attainment of other specialized competency-based credentials such as registrations.
MAKING CONNECTIONS AIHA is already the premier source of science-based IH technical education, and we will continue to grow our technical education offerings to meet the needs of all stages. In addition, we will examine the needs for education in some non-traditional areas to provide access to training in management skills appropriate for each career stage. Recent survey data indicates that communication skills, among others, are very important to success in all career stages. Through this project, we realized that our volunteer groups and local sections provide numerous opportunities for IHs to gain transferrable skills in communication, leadership, and project management—sometimes before they have the opportunity to develop these skills in the workplace. We will continue to develop ways to connect people with volunteer leadership opportunities at different stages of their career. The Career Stages project helped identify two other careers in worker health for which AIHA could provide career-related resources: the EHS Technician, and the Allied Professional. For both of these career tracks, we have identified and described four stages and defined technical, leadership, and management skills. We will investigate how to connect with individuals in these careers who might benefit from our resources. ESSENTIAL CONTRIBUTIONS Any discussion of this project must acknowledge the contributions of the AIHA volunteer groups that support industrial hygiene careers: the Students and Early Career Professionals Committee, the Career and Employment Services Committee, the Mentoring and Professional Development Committee, and the Academic Special Interest Group. We envision expanded roles and more focused activities for these and other volunteer groups as they join forces to support AIHA Career Stages. We also expect this project to provide more support to our local sections’ outreach efforts, and we welcome and encourage their involvement. This project would never have come to fruition without the contributions of several wonderful AIHA volunteers: Billy Bullock, Barry Graffeo, Alice Greife, Cindy Hanko, Steven Lacey, Perry Logan, Melissa Rupert, and Melissa Smith. More information, including access to an infographic depicting the technical, leadership, and management skills necessary for success at all career stages, is available on the AIHA website. Your feedback is essential to the continued success of this project: please send your thoughts to me at email@example.com.