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The Benefits of Student Membership to Professional Associations

Jun 16, 2011

It's not necessary to be finished with your degree before getting active in your field of interest. Many professional associations allow students the opportunity to join and start preparing for their futures.

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What is Student Membership?

A student membership in a professional organization is a membership level reserved for college students and sometimes high school students. This type of membership tends to be less expensive than that for a professional already working in the field. Specific costs can vary by association, but the potential savings can be significant. For instance, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) charges students $35 per year, while the annual cost for a professional member is $185.

To qualify for a student membership, potential members generally must be enrolled in a degree program related to the association's career field. For example, the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) requires its student members to be enrolled full-time in a graduate or undergraduate pharmacy program. A student interested in joining the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) must be enrolled in a master's program and cannot be employed as a school counselor. ASCA also limits its student membership to two years.

Financial Benefits

Being part of a professional organization can be financially beneficial for students. For instance, through its foundation, NCPA offers scholarships and loan opportunities. Other perks might include supplemental training, news updates or free access to field-related resources. ASCA provides webinars to members free of charge; this training would normally cost quite a bit. Yet another bonus to joining professional associations is insurance benefits. Some organizations that offer insurance include ASCA, which offers its members free liability insurance, and the Associated Skin Care Professionals, which offers members discounts on their liability insurance.

Networking

A small amount in dues can result in a lot of benefits. First of all, being a member of a professional organization is a great way to learn more about your future industry. Some associations offer mentoring and internships, giving you a chance to interact with industry members who already have a lot of experience.

The networking aspect of professional association membership is important. While attending events, conferences or workshops, you'll meet many people. Those people in your network can be incredibly helpful in assisting you with your job search. Your network is also a repository of knowledge and experience that can be instrumental in helping you succeed in your career.

There is no question that joining a professional association is to your benefit. If there are multiple groups associated with your career of interest, do research on organizations to make sure you join the right one for you.

It can also be a good idea for students to join their school's alumni association.

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