Professional Associations: Are they Worth the Membership Fees?

You’re thinking about joining a professional association.  Somebody told you that it is a good resource when you are job hunting, but the membership fee is expensive and you don’t want to waste your time and money.  How can you be sure that it is worth it?  Here are some factors to consider:

1.  Is it necessary for your profession?  Depending on your profession, membership in a professional association is either mandatory, an asset, or completely pointless.  You need to determine what the case is for your particular profession.  You can assess this by reviewing job advertisements to see if they ask for membership in a professional association, and by talking to people who work in your field.

2.  Will membership provide you with networking opportunities?  Will you have the chance to showcase your skills and professionalism by volunteering?  Are there events that you will be able to attend?  Is there an admission fee for these events?  Will you actually be able to connect with professionals who are working in the field?

3.  Will membership give you access to publications, training opportunities and job listings?  What type of training is there?  How much are the course fees?  Take a look at the publications to assess how useful they will be for you.  With the job listings, keep in mind that there will be many qualified people competing against you for those positions.

4.  What do other members say?  Talk to people who have joined the professional association.  What benefits have they derived from membership?  Was it worth the cost?

5.  Have a plan.  After conducting all of your research, make a plan about how you will use your membership.  Which events will you attend?  Which publications will you read?  Who will you connect with?  By approaching it strategically, you can be sure that you will make the membership worth the money.

In many cases, the value that you will get out of joining a professional association is up to you.  It can be an excellent source of knowledge, networking contacts, and even job leads.  However, it costs you time and money, (both of which are scarce when you are job hunting).  If, after doing your research, you feel that the membership will not benefit you, then it may be best to put your resources elsewhere.

(Written by: Karen Bivand, Photo From: Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

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