Importance of the professional association – By Claude Balthazard PhD
“Becoming a member of a professional association is not like subscribing to a magazine, it is a career choice. It is part of what being a professional is all about. It may sound old-school to some, but being a professional is important to most who have chosen to become professionals. This professional identity begins with joining your professional association.
Whether you’re working to become a doctor, lawyer, engineer, teacher or HR professional, there are elements of all professions that one simply cannot learn in school. As a student, becoming a member of, and participating in, your professional association is one way to accelerate your learning of the ropes.
As a member of a professional association, one becomes a member of a special community. For example, the human resources (HR) community is quite diverse, but there is something that all members have in common and that is a passion for HR. Becoming a member of your professional association is the best way of connecting with others who share this same passion.
Becoming a member of a professional association is also more than just belonging—it is not only about what you can get from your association but also what you can give back to the profession.
Professional associations are more than ‘clubs’ based on common interests, they are self-governing bodies. As a member of a professional association one becomes part of the governance of the association.
Professional associations play an important role in society. In Canada, the model for professional regulation is self-regulation. This means that all important decisions concerning members of the profession or those who would become members of the profession are made by members of the profession. The whole system of professional regulation depends on professionals getting involved and contributing to the regulation of their profession. Without this participation, self-regulation simply could not work. There is also a certain amount of self-interest in participation in professional regulation. A profession’s practitioners share a brand—be it the accounting brand, the engineer brand or the HR professional brand. Whenever professionals fail to live up to professional standards, the reputation of the profession is diminished somewhat. By joining your professional association, you begin to assume your responsibilities as a professional.”