It’s that time of year when invoices for professional association membership dues begin arriving. If you are like many others, you may vacillate about continuing paying your dues. How do you decide? Is it worth it? Do you really need to be a member?
Before you decide, take an inventory of what services and perks your membership actually offers. Many people have never done this and are surprised at what they find. Some of the services may include:
•Establishing and maintaining professional standards and protections for the field
•National and state advocacy for issues relevant to your profession and its mission
•Legal assistance for broad issues related to the field
•Up-to-date information about your profession
•Continuing educational programs at a reasonable or reduced membership cost
•Networking and mentoring opportunities online or at annual conferences or local meetings
•Potential for leadership positions and leadership training through board and committee work
•An outlet (journals, blogs, newsletters) for highlighting your own research findings or thought pieces
•Special offers like affiliation credit cards or reduction in price of publications or other products
•Reasonably priced malpractice or other insurance coverage for members
You may be thinking you can get many of the above services without paying dues—and you can—but it takes some effort. For example, your professional association vets current research and practice guidelines so you can rely on their validity and timeliness. They also curate various topics so you can select those most relevant to you.
While a professional conference is a good networking opportunity, it may also help you fulfill many of your annual continuing education requirements that are needed to keep your license and/or certification current.
If your professional association offers some type of certification or credentialing, think carefully before you opt out of one you currently hold. How hard was it to achieve your credential? Does it have any value in the workplace or on your résumé? Could it be reinstated if you needed the credential some time in the future or would you have to apply and start over again?
There is one final reason to maintain your membership. Most of us are proud of our chosen profession, and we have some obligation to support it. Remaining an active member of your profession association is one way to do so.