The Benefits of Joining Professional Associations and Organizations

Professional associations and organizations are groups of people from the same industry or  profession gathered together to represent the industry or profession in some way. They are often  the source of standards within a profession, and can also be key advocates for or against  legislation that impacts the profession or overall industry. Additionally, they can provide  resources, information and opportunities exclusively to members that non-members might not be eligible for. 

Types of memberships vary and usually include student or new professional memberships at  discount or low cost rates.  Professional Associations/Organizations may offer participation on  national, international, state, regional, or local levels.  Some provide benefits to members  including discounts on products or services, events, or CEUs (continuing education units). 

Review the individual qualities of any given Professional Associations/Organizations to  determine whether obtaining a membership will be beneficial for you and your career.   

Why join a professional association/organization? 

Professional Designation 

Putting your membership on your resume instantly communicates that you are interested in  staying connected and are committed to the field. 

Networking opportunities 

Once you join a professional association you are instantly connected with like-minded  professionals on the local and sometimes even global level. You will have access to thought  leaders in your industry and potential hiring managers for your next career move. 

Idea sharing 

Have a question on a best practice or a difficult situation you’ve not encountered? Associations  are a great place to get assistance as there are probably others who have already encountered the  issue and can provide insight to their experience. 

Leadership/Volunteer opportunities 

There are many opportunities to grow, develop and highlight your leadership skills. Most  associations are run on volunteerism which can range from being on the Board of Directors, to  being a Mentor, or even to help organize an event. All are opportunities to expand your  knowledge, influence and overall network. 

Access to information 

Membership will typically give access to free or low cost links to professional journals and/or  various publications, industry standards and trends, as well as changes in legislation, how  changes can impact your profession and how to prepare. 

Award opportunities 

Any award is great, but being recognized within your profession or industry is a particularly  impressive way to boost your resume. Being recognized by your peers is indicative of your  overall performance and capabilities. 

Scholarship opportunities 

Many offer educational scholarships to students as a way to promote their organization, and  grow within their industries. 

How to locate a Professional Association: 

Ask professionals in the industry 

  • If you are currently a student, talk to the faculty who teach related subjects. Which 

organizations do they belong to? Which do they recommend? 

  • Talk to those in your network who work in that industry and find out which are the most

recognized and/or respected. 

Search online 

JobStars Listing of Professional Organizations by Career Area

CareerOneStop offers a search function to locate national professional associations by occupation or industry served.

By Michele Schlinsog
Michele Schlinsog