Professional associations

What is a professional association?

Professional associations are organisations that act as a peak body or umbrella for professionals working in the same or similar fields. Professional Associations can define the profession and assist both individual and organisational members to further the profession through ongoing learning, quality control and research.

Each association offers a unique service to their members and are the face of the profession to government and the community. The services available to members and student members will vary according to the size, resources and member interests of the association. However they generally provide a forum for members working in the same or similar fields to interact with and learn from each other.

Possible benefits to students

Students who are studying for university degrees and other formal professional qualifications are encouraged to consider joining a relevant association. Did you know that joining while still a student may be free or at a heavily discounted rate? Like any other interest group, the more you put in (attending and contributing to activities offered) the more you will get out of your membership.

Listing your membership of relevant organisations will indicate your commitment to the profession and your willingness to abide by a code of ethics and undertake lifelong learning. These are appealing attitudes to potential employers. You may find you are eligible for membership of more than one association. If this is the case, there may be advantages to dual membership depending on the services offered.

Benefits of the student membership will vary, so check which of the following services are offered by the associations which are relevant for you. Benefits can include:

  • Opportunities for networking, e.g. breakfast functions
  • Conferences on topical issues providing local and international perspectives
  • Research on areas of practice, quality and innovation
  • Interest or focus groups specialising in specific areas of the industry
  • Regular journals and other publications (may be able to subscribe)
  • Access to current salary information based on surveys conducted by the association
  • Advice on workplace agreements
  • Events providing professional development and ongoing learning
  • Mentoring schemes
  • Career advice and industry information
  • Job vacancy listings specific to the industry (may include types of employment such as voluntary, casual, contract, part-time, vacation, internships, research projects and full-time employment
  • Scholarships, awards and prizes
  • Further study (including short courses, professional accreditation programs, postgraduate qualifications)
  • Assessment of overseas qualifications
  • Membership benefits such as discounted services and products as negotiated by the association with a range of providers

Adopted, Annual General Meeting, 26 May 1997
Professions Australia