Professional Development

Career Pathways: Your Guide to Career Advancement

Two healthcare professionals in a meeting.

How does one plan their career advancement options within the health information technology (HIT) world? Employers can utilize career pathways for their recruitment and retention of great employees (Jefferson, 2021). Employers or organizations creating career pathways is one method to support talent management (Paychex, 2020). There are many roles within HIT and many of us have had different career pathways that have gotten us to our current positions. The natural next step is to continue to look for potential career advancements.

Whether you are looking to get into the work of HIT, or are simply trying to advance your career, published industry career pathways are a great resource to start with. As the industry has advanced and looks to recruit, many organizations such as Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) have identified the value in creating career pathways that support individuals. When looking at these pathways, one can review a high-level job description which includes an overview, primary responsibilities, and qualifications. If a person finds a role that they are interested in, the pathway may also suggest formal education degrees or certifications. HIMSS’s healthcare career pathways support four levels of careers from entry to expert.

Everyone can benefit from having a career pathway that provides concrete steps for setting and achieving career-related goals like higher-education degrees and certifications. Having concrete steps can provide motivation for your current job. Research also notes that having career pathways can increase a person’s productivity due to this renewed job excitement (Jefferson, 2021). Pathways support “…your roadmap for your future that’ll help you make well informed decisions about your career” (Unknown, 2021). A pathway endorsed by your employer can help you feel more secure by keeping you interested and challenged (Paychex, 2020). Utilizing HIMSS’s career pathways to identify your next career goal, one should complete a self-assessment to see where you align with the suggested qualifications.

How can you utilize industry career pathways if your employer does not have them? Not all employers will have predetermined pathways, or the established pathways may not match your industry goals. Step one should always be having an honest discussion with your current manager about your personal goals and what you hope to get out of your current career pathway.  These types of discussions can often lead to internal opportunities that support additional training or certifications. If you can identify someone within your organization who already has your dream role, consider reaching out to them a potential mentorship. Mentorship can support a variety of learning opportunities by connecting with senior employees or someone with a specific certification or desired skill set (Reeves, 2021). Mentors can also help you set career goals that align with your desired pathway.

In summary, career pathways can help both employers with talent management and employees with their happiness at work and outlook on career advancement. When looking for a pathway, there are resources from HIMSS that can support those from entry to expert for a common set of roles that can be used as a starting place.

Jefferson, 2021 Career Path: How to Find Yours and Why It Matters (

Reeves, 2021 3 Reasons Career Pathing is Critical to Employee Development | Together Mentoring Software (

Unknown, 2021 6 Benefits of Career Planning | Career Masterclass