What Are Professional Associations?

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A professional association is a non-profit, dues-supported organization developed around a particular career field or occupation to keep its members connected and informed about industry developments. Professional associations are the key to staying current in your field and keeping up with your peers. They look great on a resume and can be a big help in a job search, whether you're just starting out of college or you're a seasoned pro. Many of them also provide additional benefits such as training seminars and continuing education. Some even offer health benefits to their members.

Job Search Help

  • A professional association membership looks great on your resume, signaling to potential employers that you're serious enough about your field to keep informed on its latest developments. Publications (online or printed) available through associations can help you network with other professionals and provide information about topics of concern and areas of the field that are growing. Additionally, many professional associations can help directly with your job search by allowing you to network with people in your field who are in a position to help you; some even post job listings on their websites.

Training

  • Many professional associations provide training and educational materials to help members further their education in their field. The Airborne Law Enforcement Association, for example, provides regular safety training courses and seminars for its members, and also produces a magazine to help them stay informed about the latest developments in that field.

Membership Benefits

  • Some organizations, especially those for people creative fields who might be freelancers without access to employer health benefits, go beyond the usual networking and educational benefits to provide financial assistance to members. One example is the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, which maintains an emergency fund to assist members with unexpected medical expenses.The Grant Professionals Association offers its members access to health insurance, life insurance and other health programs, as well a no-fee credit card and discounts from various businesses.

Where To Find A Professional Association

  • The simplest way to find a professional association is to do an Internet search for the title of your profession and the words "professional association," or look for an online directory of professional associations (see Resources). If you're in college, your campus career center or library should be able to help you locate professional associations that you might like to join. Another place to look is in the latest edition of National Trade and Professional Associations of the United States, a directory available in book stores or in your local library.

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