From your first step down a career path, professional associations have much to offer. Many provide counseling programs to help newcomers make the correct career choices in their field. Often, professional associations are well established financially and offer college scholarships to those members that are able to meet minimum requirements, such as grades or enrollment in a particular degree program.
As careers progress, individuals utilize professional associations for other reasons. They provide networking opportunities like very few other options and provide continued career guidance and education to ensure members stay at the forefront of changing technologies and information in a career field. Those finding a new career can often find quick solace in groups with like minds and similar goals in mind.
Even further down a career path, professional associations provide an opportunity for individuals to take leadership roles by acting as secretaries, treasurers, vice presidents, and presidents of local, state, or even national level groups that have tens, hundreds and sometimes thousands of members. Senior level members may provide mentorship to those just entering a career field or may act as a coach for those in the mid-range of their careers. Professional associations can also help those entering retirement by easing them slowly into it, meaning that professional associations provide an opportunity for retirees to stay connected in a limited sense to the career they may have spent 30+ years working in.
Those seeking a way to enhance their career skills and expedite career growth should look to a well-established professional association that has a robust membership, has a strategic initiative that targets the growth of its members, and is financially stable to support their key initiatives.