Professional bodies are there to help those working in specialist career sectors, through setting standards and developing the careers of their members. As you start out you will be most interested in the professional qualifications they offer, but they can support your professional development at any stage in your career.
Most have student members studying for examinations that lead to the professional qualification. Once students gain this qualification they become a full member, and can enjoy the increased job opportunities that come with professional status. But even as a student member you can expect benefits, whether it’s support with your studies or networking events which will give you a head start when applying for jobs.
Benefits of membership
The career support offered comes in many forms, depending on your profession – from technical updates to advice on ethics. Professional bodies keep members up to date with developments in their profession through publications, events and websites. Members, including student members, will get this information free or at a reduced rate. Many professional bodies have their own reference libraries, with facilities free to student members, as well as a range of online resources. Most have a secure area of their website exclusively for student members.
As well as formal networking events such as conferences, many professional bodies organise social events, often on a regional basis, where you can meet others in your profession in a more relaxing environment.
You can expect many other benefits. For example, the Insurance Institute of Ireland offers discounts on training courses and textbooks, while student members of the Institute of Accounting Technicians in Ireland can use a dedicated recruitment service, helping with placements and careers advice. There is a professional body for almost any career, from management consultancy to engineering.
See the Career sector section on this site for links to professional bodies for specific career sectors. You can also find profiles of professional bodies through the 'Jobs and employers' search on this website.