What Are the Three Types of Professional Associations?

January 28, 2023

A professional association refers to a group of individuals who work in the same field with a common goal of advancing their industry and maintaining high standards for their line of work. It comes in different types, namely member-benefit professional organizations, designation-granting associations (including certifying bodies), and professional regulatory bodies. 

Joining one is a good opportunity for professionals who would like to forward their education, define their career path, and connect with other people in their community. But in exchange, you’ll have to carry the responsibilities required from the membership, which includes voting in professional industry elections.

What Is a Professional Association?

A professional association is an organization that aims to advance a certain industry, develop the growth of professionals in the field, and provide a service to help their common community. Most professional associations are non-profit groups that work to oversee the knowledge and resources to advance an industry while balancing the interests of professionals and the general public.

Why Professional Associations Are Important

Professional associations are beneficial to different industries; they particularly add significant value to the education, network, and career of professionals in their field. Here are some reasons why they’re important:

Educational Opportunity

Professional associations provide members with connections and resources that they can use to upgrade their careers and expand their fields. Being part of this organization puts you at an advantage over other non-affiliated professionals, especially if you’ve received certification through your association.

Network Expansion

Professional organizations often hold gatherings of industry professionals, such as conferences, to talk about new developments in the industry and efforts for further advancement. In these events, members can expand their network by getting to know others in the same field. Sometimes, employers are present looking for talent, so it’s a great place to seek out career opportunities, as well.

Career Identity

Being a part of a professional association can give you insight into your chosen career; it can open you to different perspectives that could steer you into the right professional path. Other members of the organization can even give you channels in which you can practice your profession in ways other than what you do for a living. For example, medical associations can provide practicing doctors with opportunities to offer their services for free to the less fortunate as a way of giving back to the community.

Key Functions of Professional Associations

The key functions of professional associations include creating a community, setting standards for excellence, and promoting professional development. Professional associations create a formal space where people can network with others in their industry, find jobs or employees, learn new skills and gain certifications. Many professional associations will provide additional services and partnerships that support people with jobs in a particular field.

Types of Professional Organizations

There are three types of professional organizations: member-benefit organizations, designation-granting associations (and certifying bodies), and professional regulatory bodies. Here are the differences between each one:

Member-Benefit Professional Organizations

As its name suggests, member-benefit professional organizations focus on providing value to their members. For instance, professionals part of a marketing member-benefit professional association may have access to related resources that guide marketing practices, which they can leverage to expand their experience and bulk up their resume.

Designation-Granting Associations

Designation-granting associations provide individuals with a certification to signal their professional status. This designation shows that you are knowledgeable in your field as it’s proof that you’ve achieved certain requirements set out by the association to receive it, such as minimum training hours or a passing grade in an exam. 

Certifying Bodies

Certifying bodies are a type of designation-granting association that issue a form of credential to members who have met established qualifications. Unlike other designating-granting associations, all members of a certifying body must have the designation. This organization doesn’t have a dual allegiance to designated and non-designated members. Those who want to receive this credential may pass an exam or finish some coursework.

Professional Regulatory Bodies

Professional regulatory bodies have a simple distinguishing feature—they are regulated by the government and exercise authorities delegated by law. They focus on upholding the standards of the industry and governing and safeguarding the public interest. 

Engage Your Voting Professional Association With ElectionBuddy

Professional associations function because of a common interest to provide value to their members, their industry, and the public that they serve. To do this, they must agree on policies and activities that uphold their purpose and forward their goals, which they can reach a consensus with through ElectionBuddy. From chamber of commerce voting to professional regulatory bodies - find out how ElectionBuddy can help your professional association today!

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