What is a Professional Association?

6 min read
March 30, 2023

Nowadays, it is becoming more and more common for people to be part of a professional association. It can be a great way to keep up with trends in your field, network with like-minded people and stand out on a job application. Joining an association also shows commitment and dedication to your profession.

But what exactly is a professional association and why are they important? In this blog, we will explore everything you need to know about professional associations and the benefits they offer. We will then discuss the different types of associations and how you can join or start one.

What is a professional association?

You may have heard the term throughout your career, but what exactly is it? A professional association is an organisation of members that share the same interests in the same field. An example could be a designer joining a graphic design association. They might do this to stay up to date with the latest trends, gain access to useful resources or find out about events.

The more popular associations tend to be nationally recognised and there are many to choose from. Some of them are free to join, whilst others may have certain entry requirements. These requirements might be qualifications or subscription fees, for example.

If your goal is to create your own professional association, check out our blog, 3 Tips For Building a Membership and Subscription community.

Benefits of Professional Associations

Now you know what a professional association is, let’s explore the many benefits of joining one.


One of the most significant benefits of joining an association is the opportunity to network in your field. Most associations organise events and conferences that dig deep into the big questions. Having access to these will give members a broader knowledge of their industry.

Being surrounded by industry leaders and like-minded professionals will give you the chance to ask questions or learn tips and tricks. Networking with fellow members could even lead to some collaborative projects.

Professional development

As well as networking, some associations also offer many educational opportunities. These opportunities could be webinars and training videos, courses, workshops and many more.

Being an active member of these types of training programs can boost your industry knowledge and even teach you new skills. Research suggests that 74% of workers are willing to learn new skills to remain employable. This shows that the majority of professionals want to advance in their careers.

Learning happens through reading, reflecting, listening and working collaboratively. It’s important to have fellow learners around you to question and discuss matters. Read more on Why community is so important in online learning.

Exclusive resources

Nothing is more exciting than being part of something exclusive. A lot of professional associations offer exclusive resources to their members. This would depend on the type of industry you are in and what might be useful.

Some professional associations might offer resources such as journals, articles and white papers. Another example could be if you are a creative, some exclusive resources might include fonts and graphics.

Career opportunities

Networking with professionals can lead to collaborations and even job opportunities. Sometimes, it really is about who you know! Another association member could be looking to hire and you might be the right fit. These possibilities wouldn't arise without the benefit of being in a professional association.

Not only do associations open doors to many opportunities, but they also look very appealing on your CV. They can often be the difference when it comes to a job application. Being part of a membership within your industry shows dedication, commitment and passion for your craft. It also shows that you want to keep up with trends and industry knowledge.

When it comes to hiring, these types of factors will help you stand out from the crowd. They would much rather hire someone with the above qualities than not. If you want to read about this further, take a look at this article by Indeed on 17 Traits Employers Seek in Candidates.

Types of Professional Associations

Now we have covered what a professional association is and the benefits that come with them, we can talk about the different types available.

Trade associations

These types of associations concentrate on and represent a specific industry or trade. They are great for networking and advocating businesses in a particular sector. The different types of professional trade associations might be in construction or manufacturing. Examples of this are trade associations like The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) or British Association of Landscape Industries (BALI)

Specialised associations

Specialised professional associations focus on a specific expertise or skill. Profession examples could be lawyers, engineers, marketers and so many more. These types of associations are beneficial for growing your skillset from industry leaders.

International associations

These professional associations deal with things on a global scale. In some professions, it is vital to have those global connections for research and to share knowledge. These organisations might include people that are journalists, doctors, coaches and teachers.

Generalist associations

Generalist associations are for people that do not want to limit themselves to their own field. Unlike specialised associations, they broaden the platform for professionals to network and collaborate with others in different fields.

How to Join a Professional Association

When it comes to joining a professional association, it will depend on the rules and regulations stated.

The first thing to do is research the type of organisation you wish to join. Then you’ll need to find associations within that sector that align with your needs. Once you’ve found the right professional association, visit their website to learn more about the criteria for joining. This could be a qualification or years of experience for example.

A lot of professional associations ask you to submit an application form. The application process may need you to upload a CV and other important documents to prove your eligibility. If you have opted for an association that needs a subscription, when you are accepted and you’ve paid your fee, you are finally in!

How to Start a Professional Association

But what if the association you are looking for doesn't exist? What if you have found a clear gap in the market that could meet the needs you are looking for, for others as well?

If you are interested in creating your own professional association, it can be a time-consuming and complicated process. But careful planning and a clear goal in mind can help that process run smoothly. We’ve done the hard work for you!

Here’s a comprehensive outline of the steps you need to take when starting your own professional association.

Identify the need

What is the professional association you want to create and why? Is your association solving anything? Is there a gap in the market? Answering these questions and doing market research can help set your goals and mission.

Define the mission

When starting your own professional association, it’s important to figure out the purpose and the target audience. Take some time to create a mission statement and values to help define the identity.

Develop bylaws

Develop rules and regulations for your association by establishing some bylaws. Bylaws are put in place to provide a framework for management and overall decision-making.

Recruit members

Start the recruitment process by identifying potential members interested in joining your association. The two main suggestions for this are advertising and networking. You could even promote your organisation by offering discounts or trials to give more appeal.

Plan and host events

This is a great way to begin your journey. Create the opportunity to explain to current and potential members what the association is all about.

Do you already have a professional association?

Maybe you are reading this because you already have an established professional association and you need help with it. Is your association completely offline or unorganised? You might be using many platforms such as Whatsapp and Slack which really isn't ideal.

If this is the case, that's where Ugenie comes in. Ugenie is a hassle-free and easy-to-use membership management platform made simple. Ugenie provides a solution that many associations struggle with by offering various features in one place.

The features that are offered include a White label app and web, community feed and marketplace, member directory and many more. If all of this sounds exactly like what you need, then book a demo today here.


In the world we live in today, professional associations are becoming more common for many reasons. These organisations bring together members who share the same goals and interests and are committed to their profession. As you can see, joining one can offer professional development and a range of other benefits.

Being part of a professional association can open many doors to networking, collaboration, training and job opportunities. There are many different types of associations so make sure you choose one that is aligned with what you want and need.

If you already have a professional association in place that is currently offline or across multiple platforms, then working with Ugenie can provide a solution. Join the hundreds of communities and associations that have signed up for Ugenie. Ugenie is the place to be. Book a demo now!

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