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Career Development Tips

Professional Associations: What They Are and Popular Organizations You Can Join to Advance Your Career

Posted by Glassdoor Team

Career Advice Experts

Last Updated June 29, 2021

Guide Overview

Professional association: What is it?Why is belonging to professional organizations important?Top professional associations by industry

Guide Overview

Professional organizations to support your career

Being a member of a professional association can set you apart from the competition when searching for new jobs and support your career by allowing you to advance your skills and knowledge. Joining professional associations shows that you are committed to your industry and are dedicated to continuous growth and learning within your career field. Here we explore what a professional association is, why they are important, and several of the top professional organizations divided by category.

Professional association: What is it?

A professional association, or professional organization, is an association made up of members who are part of the same industry or career field. For example, an architect may join an architectural-based association to stay up-to-date on the latest trends in their industry and to network with other architects in their field. Most popular professional organizations are recognized nationally, and individuals who are part of these organizations are often looked on favorably by employers.

Professional organizations vary in their membership requirements. Some associations require members to hold a particular certification or degree or to pay a monthly or yearly fee to part of the organization. Others accept members who are still in the educational phase of their careers. These associations vary in the activities and benefits they offer; for example, an organization may regularly hold networking events to allow members to meet and connect with others in their field.

Why is belonging to professional organizations important?

There are several benefits of being a member of a professional association in your industry. These benefits include:

  • Job opportunities: Some organizations regularly provide information about companies that are hiring for positions within their field. This can be a great way to find new jobs in your area of expertise.
  • Networking opportunities: Professional associations often hold regular networking events that allow you to connect with others in your industry. This allows you to meet leaders in your field and make connections that could benefit your career.
  • Staying up-to-date on industry news and trends: Professional organizations are a great way to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and news in your industry. These organizations often have first-hand knowledge of new technology, processes, and other trends or new implementations and can provide you with a first-hand.
  • Helping you stand out to potential employers: Being a member of one or more professional associations reflects positively on you as a candidate when applying for jobs. This shows employers that you are dedicated to your career and are constantly learning and growing within your field.

Top professional associations by industry

The following is a list of some of the top professional associations divided into specific industries or career fields:

Accounting professional associations

  • American Accounting Association (AAA)
  • American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA)
  • Association of Accountants and Financial Professionals in Business (IMA)
  • National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers (NACPB)
  • National Association of Professional Accountants (NAPA)

Architecture professional associations

  • American Institute of Architects (AIA)
  • Association of Architecture Organizations (AAO)
  • Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA)
  • Association of Licensed Architects (ALA)
  • American Institute of Architectural Students (AIAS)

Art professional associations

  • Association for Visual Arts (AVA)
  • Association of Performing Arts Professionals (APAP)
  • College Art Association (CAA)
  • Professional Association of Visual Artists (PAVA)

Communications professional associations

  • American Communication Association (ACA)
  • Communications Media Management Association (CMMA)
  • National Communication Association (NCA)

Counseling professional associations

  • American Counseling Association (ACA)
  • American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA)
  • Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC)
  • National Association of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapists (NACBT)
  • American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT)

Education professional associations

  • Association for Middle Level Education (AMLE)
  • Association of American Educators (AAE)
  • National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)
  • National Association of Scholars (NAS)
  • National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP)
  • National Association of Special Education Teachers (NASET)
  • National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)
  • National Education Association (NEA)

Government professional associations

  • American Public Works Association (APWA)
  • National Association of Government Employees (NAGE)
  • National Association of Government Contractors (NAGC)

Healthcare professional associations

  • American Academy of PAs (AAPA)
  • American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management (AAHAM)
  • American Association of Medical Society Executives (AAMSE)
  • American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP)
  • American College of Surgeons Professional Association (ACS)
  • National Association of Healthcare Access Management (NAHAM)

Human resources professional associations

  • Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants (AESC)
  • Association of People Supporting Employment First (APSE)
  • College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR)
  • Employee Assistance Professionals Association (EAPA)
  • International Public Management Association for Human Resources (IPMA-HR)
  • Labor and Employment Relations Association (LERA)
  • National Human Resources Association (NHRA)
  • Professionals in Human Resources Association (PIHRA)
  • Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)

IT professional associations

  • ASIS International
  • Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)
  • Association of Computer Engineers and Technicians (ACE – ACET)
  • Association of Independent Information Professionals (AIIP)
  • Association of Information Technology Professionals (AITP)
  • Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA)
  • Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA)

Legal professional associations

  • American Association for Justice (AAJ)
  • American Bar Association (ABA)
  • American Health Lawyers Association (AHLA) is the nation’s largest, nonpartisan educational organization devoted to legal issues in the health care field.
  • Association of Legal Administrators (ALA)
  • National Association for Legal Professionals (NALS)

Marketing professional associations

  • American Marketing Association (AMA)
  • Association of International Product Marketing and Management (AIPMM)
  • Association of Network Marketing Professionals (ANMP)
  • Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS)

Real estate professional associations

  • American Real Estate Society (ARES)
  • Association of Commercial Real Estate Professionals (ACRP)
  • International Association of Real Estate Professionals (IARP)
  • National Association of Realtors (NAR)

Sales professional associations

  • National Association of Sales Professionals (NASP)
  • National Business Development Association (NBDA)
  • Sales and Marketing Executives International (SMEI)
  • Strategic Account Management Association (SAMA)

Science professional associations

  • American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
  • American Chemical Society (ACS)
  • American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB)
  • Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP).
  • Clinical Laboratory Management Association (CLMA)

Writing professional associations

  • American Society of Business Press Editors (ASBPE)
  • Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP)
  • Education Writers Association (EWA)
  • Society for Editing (ACES)

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