Being a member of professional organizations/affiliations can improve your career and life, offering giant networks, career training, continuing education, discounts on insurance, gym memberships, attorney services, and more. Having the “right” professional affiliations/organizations listed on your resume can also help you with landing a job. Susan P. Joyce from Job-Hunt.org writes that connections are the “best and fastest way to get hired.”
Quality professional associations include industry associations; company, military, and government “alumni” associations; and college and university alumni associations. Below, we discuss how to find the best organizations in your industry and list professional associations in a variety of fields, from accounting to health care to real estate.
In This Article
- How to Choose the Right Organizations
- Can Affiliations Hurt Your Chances of Being Hired?
- Examples by Industry
How to Choose the Right Organizations
Because of the thousands of professional affiliations/organizations available, choosing one or a few can be a difficult task. Start by looking at what the affiliation/organization is offering. Some questions to ask your self during the decision-making process are:
- Can this organization help you get to where you want to go in your career?
- How much is the membership fee?
- Does it have conferences, seminars, online education, and other learning opportunities?
- Does it offer useful networking opportunities?
- Does it have extra benefits, such as better rates on health/home/life insurance, discounts on gym memberships, reduced attorney service fees, or discounts for extending learning?
- Are the organization you’re interested in local, national, or global? (A mix is good when choosing organizations.)
Suggested Article: 76 Personal Accomplishments to Add to Your Resume
Can Affiliations Hurt Your Chances of Being Hired?
Yes, membership in some organizations can hurt your chances of being hired. While many professional affiliations/organizations can help you gain employment, listing certain types on your resume can hurt your chances of even being considered for a job. Unless you are sure that mentioning associations like race, gender, ethnic, religious, or political affiliations can help you, you probably should not mention belonging to them. Unfortunately, this gives the employer information about you that can bias him or her, so it is best to leave these details off your resume.
While you shouldn’t mention things like religious or political affiliation on your resume, you can still use these organizations for education and to help with your career advancement plans.
Being active in a professional organization demonstrates a willingness to participate and work in a group, which can help your job search chances. Active membership can help in career training and keeping current with trends and developments in your field. Also, professional affiliations/organizations offer many benefits on the professional level, including:
- Professional development through seminars, events, and publications
- Networking with like-minded professionals and companies, as well as peers
- Leadership and speaking opportunities for establishing yourself as an expert in your field
- Collaboration and support; you can share or collaborate with other professionals in your field, even outside of your company.
Examples by Industry
Accounting, Finance, and Insurance
- American Bankers Association (ABA): The ABA serves employees of small, regional, and large banks. It provides training, conferences, webinars, on-call experts, federal compliance resources, and industry research. Through the ABA Foundation, the organization also allows opportunities for banking professionals to become involved in community engagement and financial education.
- American Finance Association (AFA): The AFA is open to finance students and financial professionals. It hosts an annual meeting, promotes financial conferences, maintains a directory of finance faculty/professionals, and publishes the Journal of Finance.
- American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB): The AIPB accepts both employed and freelance bookkeepers to its organization. It publishes a monthly newsletter of bookkeeping, accounting, payroll, and tax news; hosts an expert AnswerLine for everyday bookkeeping questions; publishes legal guides for bookkeepers to stay up-to-date and compliant; has exclusive educational, UPS, and insurance discounts; and offers professional certification to members. Additionally, its website includes a chat room and job board for members to connect and find new opportunities in the field.
- Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers (CIAB): The CIAB is open to employees of its member brokerage firms. It offers conferences, leadership forums, legal guidance, market insights, continuing education courses, and the Council Academy leadership training program. It also publishes a magazine called Leader’s Edge, which focuses on market news, commercial insurance, group benefits, and leadership.
- Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (Big “I”): The membership of Big “I” is made up of independent business owners and employees in the fields of insurance and financial services. It hosts a Virtual University and Young Agents program featuring a research library, on-demand educational programs, webinars, expert answers, scholarships, leadership training, and talent development. IA Magazine offers up-to-date legislative news and information related to professional development. Big “I” also has affiliations with state and local associations in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
- Insurance Accounting and Systems Association (IASA): The IASA works to educate members of the insurance sector and representatives of the finance industry about current trends, industry standards, rules, and regulations. It offers in-person and online educational programs, as well as an annual conference. The IASA provides a platform for professional members and companies to collaborate and network.
- The Institute of Financial Operations (IFO): The IFO serves a community of over 70,000 professionals in the financial operations industry, with a focus on those who work in accounts payable. Professionals gain a global voice, find the support necessary to become leaders in their industry, and have opportunities to help educate the community on financial operations. The IFO also offers professional certifications: Certified Accounts Payable Associate (CAPA) and Certified Accounts Payable Professional (CAPP).
- International Federation of Accountants (IFAC): The IFAC works to help develop global, high-quality accounting industry standards; promotes the adoption of those standards, and works for public interests. Members work towards the goal of ensuring a strong, sustainable finance economy. For members, the IFAC offers a Global Knowledge Gateway for continued education.
- Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA): The MBA advocates for and serves professionals in the industry of real estate finance. Resources include educational courses, an annual convention, industry forecasts, and reference materials on real estate policy. The MBA also offers networking opportunities, including a membership directory, a women’s platform, and a young professionals platform.
- Connex: Connex, formerly the Professional Retail Store Maintenance Association, is open to retail facilities and vendors. It has nearly 1,000 member companies. Connex offers benchmarking, webinars, and conferences. It also helps members to connect with other retail branches to expand retail careers and education.
- Consumer Specialty Products Association (CSPA): The CSPA brings together household and institutional brands together for collaborating on future products. It works with governments, non-government organizations, retailers, regulators, and more to advance the science, research, and policies of retail brands. — REMOVE; no longer active
- International Customer Service Association (ICSA): The ICSA is open to individuals and companies in the field of customer service and customer experience. It offers professional development, webinars, and networking opportunities. It also hosts National Customer Service Week, an annual celebration which encourages companies to recognize exceptional customer service professionals.
- National Customer Service Association (NCSA): The NCSA is an organization for customer service professionals. It offers employee training, customized learning programs, a quarterly magazine, and a members-only website which includes features like a help desk and article library. The NCSA also provides a Certified Customer Service Professional (CCSP) designation for members who complete and pass an exam.
- SOCAP International: SOCAP is an organization for customer care professionals. It has local and regional chapters, as well as an active online community for networking and collaboration. It publishes CRM Magazine, offers an online job board, hosts annual and chapter conferences, and offers online professional development courses — both on-demand and through live webinars.
- Association of American Educators (AAE): The AAE is a non-union, non-partisan association for professional educators, offering representation and advocacy for teachers as well as opportunities for collaboration. Member benefits include tuition discounts for continuing education, professional development courses, liability insurance, legal protection, grants, and the Education Matters newsletter.
- Association for Career and Technical Education Research (ACTE): The ACTE is a U.S.-based education association advocating for the integration of career and technical education in middle school, high school, and college. Membership is open to educators interested in delivering CTE programs, and to students entering the field of education as young professionals. Joining the ACTE provides professional development, information about CTE innovations and curriculums, and a vast network of like-minded people for connection and collaboration.
- Association for Continuing Higher Education (ACHE): The ACHE provides a platform for education professionals to network, advance their leadership skills, and connect with other members in the U.S. and Canada. Members can receive recognition for their work through the ACHE’s individual, program, and marketing awards. The ACHE is also a mentor and grant platform for both students and educators.
- Childhood Education International (CEI): Working towards improving childhood education on a global level, CEI offers the Global Friends Program for education professionals worldwide. Members can engage with like-minded professionals and explore opportunities for improving childhood education. CEI also advocates to protect the rights of educators.
- International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE): The ISTE offers individual, group, corporate, and affiliate membership to educators and educational organizations. Membership includes professional development courses, conferences, webinars, live events, a monthly newsletter to stay up-to-date with educational trends, networking and volunteer opportunities, and discounts.
- National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC): With nearly 60,000 individual members, the NAEYC aims to promote quality education for children up to age eight. The NAEYC publishes two journals (Young Children and Teaching Young Children); publishes books; offers online and in-person professional development opportunities; and offers discounts on insurance, subscriptions, entertainment, and retail.
- National Education Association (NEA): The NEA advocates for public education. It has three million members and is open to educators at any level, from preschool to university. The NEA’s member benefits include lesson plans, teaching strategies, grants, networking, conferences, travel discounts, and a retirement program.
- American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management (AAHAM): AAHAM is open to healthcare administrators who work in roles like patient account manager, medical records clerk, or registrar — support positions crucial to the revenue cycle. AAHAM’s central focus is professional development and continued education. It also offers professional certification, industry publications, conferences, seminars, and networking opportunities for members.
- American Medical Association (AMA): The American Medical Association is open to physicians, residents, and medical students. Membership benefits include access to an educational network, opportunities to advocate for healthcare reform, discounts, insurance, career planning and development resources, and leadership opportunities.
- Association for Healthcare Administrative Professionals (AHCAP): AHCAP is an organization for support professionals in the healthcare industry, such as clinic managers and program administrators. It is open to working professionals, students in the field, retirees, and companies. Members have access to events, educational programs, and professional certification.
- Health Care Administrators Association (HCAA): Benefit administrators, insurance carriers, underwriters, auditors, plan sponsors, and healthcare consultants can join this organization. HCAA’s focus is to offer educational tools and networking to its members; additional benefits include access to industry events, discounts, and free publications.
- Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA): HFMA is geared toward executives and financial officers in healthcare organizations. Members receive continued training in current and future healthcare trends, discounts for education, certification programs, networking, and career advancement help. HFMA provides a network of professionals to help with the daily pressures of being in the healthcare industry.
- International Association for Healthcare Security & Safety (IAHSS): IAHSS is a network for health care professionals in the security and safety sector. It works to help develop and implement security and safety programs within healthcare businesses while designing new guidelines for the industry and providing education and networking for its members.
- National Association for Healthcare Quality (NAHQ): NAHQ is open to healthcare quality specialists. Membership includes courses, certifications, tuition discounts for graduate programs, volunteer opportunities, a subscription to the Journal for Healthcare Quality, recognition through awards, and networking opportunities.
- American Payroll Association (APA): The APA assists payroll professionals in career development and continuing education, as well as providing the resources necessary to keep companies up-to-date with the latest payroll compliance news. Resources include an expert hotline, discounts on professional development activities, PAYTECH magazine, a job board, and free eBooks. The organization has over 20,000 members.
- The International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP): The IAAP connects a large, global community HR peers. Members gain access to continuing education, professional development, certification, and networking.
- National Human Resources Association (NHRA): The NHRA joins HR professionals for developmental education and encourages the leadership of its members in local communities. The NHRA provides partnerships, career services, training, and networking at any stage of the HR professional’s career.
- Professionals in Human Resource Association (PIHRA): PIHRA is an organization specifically for human resource professionals in California, with 17 chapters throughout the southern part of the state. Benefits include legal and compliance information, monthly newsletters, webinars, online courses, and live expert advisory.
- Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM): SHRM membership is open to global, individual HR professionals. Benefits include personalized online content, compliance resources, webcasts, newsletters and publications, access to a live HR advisor, online networking, and discounted education.
- Association of Information Technology Professionals (AITP): Geared toward new and developing professionals, AITP seeks to build a skilled, inclusive pool of up-and-coming workers in the technology industry. It is open to students, working professionals, and educators. Member benefits include career planning, job postings, training, and networking opportunities.
- Information Systems Security Association (ISSA): ISSA is a community of cybersecurity professionals working together to help protect critical information. It also works to advance information technology growth through its special interest groups, ISSA International Conference, and network of about 10,000 professionals.
- Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Computer Society: The Computer Society is open to students, practicing computer scientists and electrical engineers, researchers, and educators. Members gain access to Computer and ComputingEdge magazines, conferences, events, and networking.
- Network Professional Association (NPA): NPA offers career resources, certification, awards, and networking opportunities to those working in information technology networking. Much of the organization’s website focuses on job hunting resources, including resume and interview tips and an active job board.
- Software Development Forum (SDF): SDF is an international community geared toward startups and offers information regarding software design, testing, architecture, implementation, and maintenance.
- World Information Technology and Services Alliance (WITSA): WITSA is a global trade and education committee that facilitates collaboration and growth in the information and communications technology (ICT) industry. It serves over 80 countries and provides benefits such as trade visits, professional awards recognition, event discounts, and knowledge sharing to its members.
Leisure and Hospitality
- American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA): AHLA represents all types of hotels, from independent hotels to bed and breakfasts to major hotel chains. Benefits include leadership opportunities on councils and committees, expert advice on industry regulations and change management, networking opportunities, special events, continued education, and access to up-to-date industry research.
- Institute of Hospitality: The Institute of Hospitality serves managers in the hospitality and tourism industries, as well as young professionals hoping to become managers. Members have 24/7 access to online resources, as well as access to in-person seminars, webinars, networking events, and professional development courses.
- International Food Service Executives Association (IFSEA): The IFSEA works with professionals in the food service and hospitality business, from kitchen staff to management. It helps its members enhance their careers through mentoring, community service, travel, discounted certification, and hands-on education, offering networking and advancement opportunities at all career stages.
- International Hotel and Restaurant Association (IHRA): The IHRA is an industry watchdog which advocates for the interests of the hotel and restaurant industries worldwide, particularly concerning governmental regulations and tourism development. It also helps members stay informed, provides representation, and monitors issues within the industry.
- American Marketing Association (AMA): The AMA works with professionals and companies in the advertising and branding areas of marketing to help provide training, seminars, conferences, and continuing education. Further benefits include networking through local chapters and special interest groups, access to AMA publications, professional certification, and access to a workspace at the AMA Global Support Center in Chicago.
- ANA Business Marketing: Through local chapters, ANA Business Marketing offers networking opportunities with nearby professionals, knowledge sharing, industry awards, free webinars, and industry publications.
- Internet Marketing Association (IMA): The IMA Network connects sales executive, business owners, programmers, and creatives who work in online marketing. Its central goal is to encourage its members to share knowledge and develop their internet marketing strategies. It serves members in 78 countries.
- Marketing Science Institute (MSI): MSI works with professional and academic members. It works to advance the marketing science and technology industry by funding academic research and promoting practical applications of the latest research. Member benefits include networking, access to training, conferences, and building collaborative relationships.
- Society for Marketing Professionals (SMPS): SMPS offers continuing education, research, professional development, and leadership opportunities to give its members and their firms a competitive edge in the field of marketing. It serves professionals from both large and small companies, with a total membership of over 7,000.
Media, Publishing, and Telecommunications
- Association of American Publishers (AAP): The Association of American Publishers brings publishers together for stronger influence in the continually changing world of American publishing. It works to keep publication quality high for readers, invest in authors, and help make connections between authors and readers. Additionally, it offers career-building resources to professionals working in publishing, including a job board.
- Communications Media Management Association (CMMA): CCMA seeks to support the development of leadership skills and professional networks within the field of media management. It holds conferences and regional meetings, offers professional certification, and maintains an online knowledge base for members.
- International Association for Media and Communications (IAMCR): IAMCR is a worldwide organization seeking to support research in the field of communications. It is open to new and professional researchers who focus on media or communication. The organization offers opportunities for networking, research support, and collaboration, plus event discounts and industry news.
- National Communication Association (NatCom): NCA is open to students, teachers, and professionals in the field of communication. It supports the field’s academic research initiatives and promotes free, inclusive communication in the workplace, in public, and in private life. NCA members have access to academic journals, industry data, networking events, and career development resources.
- Society of Technical Communication (STC): STC serves writers, editors, and publishers in the field of technical communication. Membership benefits include access to a network of 5,000 colleagues, job postings, discounted continuing education and certification, connection to mentors, and special interest groups.
- Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA): The TIA joins telecommunication professionals for collaboration and advocacy regarding telecommunication rules, regulations, and standards. It also helps professionals network, learn, and set new trends in the field.
- Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM): The IREM is open to both working professionals and students in the fields of property management, facilities management, and real estate. Membership with IREM offers networking and leadership opportunities, courses, professional publications, career planning, job boards, access to up-to-date information on legislative policy, and professional recognition.
- International Real Estate Institute (IREI): IREI includes members of the real estate community in over 100 nations. Its objective is to provide a network for real estate professionals, nationally and internationally, while providing up-to-date industry information. Member opportunities include participation in committees, publication in the International Real Estate Journal, and teaching seminars.
- National Association of REALTORS (NAR): To become a NAR member, you must find a state or local REALTOR association. The principals of your firm must become members before any agents or brokers can join the NAR. Benefits include continuing education, networking, and a wide array of discounts on things like car rental, tax software, and online advertisements.
- National Real Estate Investors Association (REIA): REIA provides discounts on things like real estate investing insurance, landlord resources, property maintenance resources, printing supplies, real estate sign printing, and travel to real estate investors. It also works to educate the public on what real estate investors do.
- Association of Science (ASTC): The ASTC’s membership includes aquariums, botanical gardens, museums, nature centers, planetariums, science centers, and zoos. Membership benefits include access to professional publications, webinars, workshops, job listings, conferences, networking, and advocacy with federal agencies. Members also have access to discounts on professional development events and ASTC publications.
- National Institutes of Environment Health Sciences (NIEHS): The NIEHS offers career enhancement training, safety training, grants, seminars, conferences, clinical research, and educational resources regarding health. NIEHS doesn’t have a broad membership program but operates several advisory boards and committees for professionals to engage with one another.
- National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE): NSPE is open to established professionals and engineering students/interns. Membership includes free online courses, networking opportunities, live events, conferences, legislative advocacy, an engineering news magazine, and a career center. NSPE also has benefit partners in business, insurance, professional development, and car rental to provide member discounts.
- Project Management Institute (PMI): PMI has nearly three million worldwide members and sets industry standards for project management. It offers discounts on project management certifications, free webinars and professional development events, project templates, and networking groups (both local and online).
- American Public Transportation Association (APTA): Membership in the APTA is open to bus, commuter rail, and rapid transit systems, as well as government agencies, city planning commissions, state transportation departments, and educational institutions involved with public transportation. Member benefits include webinars, conferences, workshops, online networking, peer review, safety resources, scholarships, and a subscription to Passenger Transport.
- American Society of Transportation and Logistics (APICS): The American Society of Transportation and Logistics merged with APICS in 2015 to form an organization which covers the supply chain from end to end. APICS membership can earn certifications, attend seminars and webinars, access up-to-date industry frameworks, improve their organization’s decision-making through comparative analysis reports, connect with mentors, and find new job opportunities in the field. APICS also publishes SCM Now Magazine for its members.
- Association for Transportation Professionals (ATLP): The ATLP is open to professionals and organizations involved in transportation law including attorneys, government officials, transportation companies, university faculty, and students of transportation law. It offers continuing education and networking events. Its Annual Meeting meets the Continuing Legal Education requirements for state bar associations.
- Transportation and Development Institute (T&DI): T&DI connects transportation engineering with urban planning and development. It provides members with conferences, advanced training, networking, leadership skills, and networking with individuals, companies, and communities.
- Energy Systems Integration Group (ESIG): The ESIG focuses on education for engineers, researchers, lawmakers, and technologists regarding integrated energy systems and emerging electricity systems. It advocates for sustainable, reliable, and economically beneficial energy systems through its publications, group meetings, webinars, and workshops. While it is primarily an educational organization, ESIG also offers opportunities for networking with other energy industry professionals.
- National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC): The NARUC represents the energy commissions of the U.S., which regulate and provide public utilities. It works to improve the regulation of utilities in the public interest, advocating for fair rates and nondiscriminatory service practices. For members, the NARUC offers educational opportunities, networking, a biweekly newsletter, and research on topics like energy efficiency.
Including professional organization examples on your resume can make you a more appealing candidate when applying for jobs. Additionally, being an active member offers benefits beyond the organization’s reputation and name recognition. Professional organizations provide opportunities for leadership, networking, professional development, and continuing education. Which professional affiliations will you include on your resume?