Professional Associations: What Are the Benefits?
Discussion forums, trade and professional journals, newsletters, etc. are all excellent avenues to remain up-to-date in your chosen field of study or work. However, professional associations are just as good, if not better, avenues for advancement. Joining a professional association is a great way to network, learn more about a specific job field and, of course, stay current with the latest technologies, job requirements and industry-wide news.
There are literally thousands of professional associations available for IT pros in almost any career field. Professional associations not only provide you with information about your chosen field and endless networking opportunities, they often also enhance your professional development. Your membership could open doors of opportunity as you are provided with greater exposure to the job market. Often organizations provide members-only job listings in their Web sites, journals, newsletters or other publications. In addition, prospective employers often look for individuals that are association members because memberships show potential employers that they are committed and dedicated to their field.
Although there may be some fees attached to your membership, the rewards of a membership will usually outweigh the costs. Most professional associations provide journals, newsletters and Web sites with valuable information on up-to-date issues and developments in your field of interest, and may provide monetary returns such as tuition assistance through private grants and fellowships.
Professional organizations are easy to find if you know where to look. One resource you may want to ask them for is the National Trade & Professional Associations directory (http://associationexecs.com). Its association database presents detailed contact and background information on over 7,500 trade associations, professional societies, technical organizations and labor unions in the United States. (A basic search on computers resulted in approximately 200 results.) Nevertheless, a simple search on Google can return just as many professional association results as well.