Although most people go through academia to learn their skill or depend on their work for hands-on training, people of a particular skill can benefit a great deal by joining their trade-specific societies. These are not to be confused with trade associations which are an assembly of companies. Professional associations are formed by individuals who drive the field. The benefits of joining professional societies include educational programs, networking exposures as well as building credibility for the members.
Robert Ivy, the executive vice president and CEO of the American Institute of Architects adds another important insight. Although trade associations are typically known for political lobbying, professional societies can also sway political decisions by utilizing their resources and influence. This can immensely help the members and hence, belonging to a professional association helps the individuals to voice their opinions and bring real change. Follow him on https://twitter.com/robertivy?lang=en
Citing their own example, Robert Ivy noted that although the number of architects is small when compared to other professionals, through the American Institute of Architects(AIA), they have gained a strong voice to put forth their opinions. They have an organization that advocated and affected the tax legislation successfully. Robert Ivy has been managing AIA since 2011.
Another plus point of such societies is the number of annual conferences they host or are invited to. A huge population of people in the same profession gathers together; workers and leaders alike. This is a huge opportunity for networking and considered to be the biggest benefit of such societies by various members.
For some people, being a member of prestigious societies lends them an unparalleled credibility. This is because being a member shows the world their commitment to their field and dedication to continuously update themselves. Serving in a committee is even better, it reflects on the leadership skills that are much sought after. Some societies also require some level of certification, so the companies hiring their members know them to be proficient in their fields.
American Institute of Architects, headed by Robert Ivy, further has a code of conduct and ethics that is well recognized within their field, hence clients hiring AIA’s members find them more reliable.
Because of their immense benefits, these societies need funding to self-sustain. Thus they need to charge membership fees. AIA, for instance, has variable fees in different cities depending on the number of active chapters in an area. Read more on Huffingtonpost.com