There are over 80 UK-based societies, associations and bodies that can promote and support your career both before and after you graduate. They can often be an under-rated and under-used resource for advice and careers support for students, graduates and people already working in the industry.
So, if you are not a member of a professional body at the moment, or are considering whether it’s worth the investment of an annual fee, or perhaps are not getting the most of your existing membership, then read on for a brief summary of the potential benefits of membership.
To find out which professional body is most relevant for your area of career interest, you can visit:
- The job/sector profiles pages on Prospects - and go to the sections on ‘Training’ or ‘Employers and vacancy sources’
- The Directory of the Professions website - Directory of the Professions - provides a comprehensive UK list of professional bodies and organisations. The site also offers news and articles on many of these organisations as well as You Tube videos.
You may already be familiar with professional bodies, as being a member is sometimes a requirement, particularly if they accredit your degree course. They can set and assess professional examinations, which can be an essential route to practice in a wide range of professions such as accountancy, surveying, health and engineering. They can also have codes of practice or conduct to guide professional behaviour, set and maintain quality standards for professional ethics and performance, which in turn protects their profession’s reputation, practitioners and the general public.
If you are interested in training and practising overseas, you would be advised to contact the relevant professional association in that country in order to confirm your eligibility criteria.
But, you don't have to wait until you are employed to benefit from the resources and knowledge base of a professional body. Many offer free or reduced annual fees for student or graduate memberships. However, as with any membership, you need to explore their website, or even speak with a Liaison Officer who can answer any questions about the support and services available to you.
By joining a professional body, it can certainly show a level of early commitment to a career area and is useful to highlight on your CV.
It is an ideal opportunity to make connections and build a network of peers and experts. You can meet like-minded students and experienced professionals by attending regional branch activities, joining special interest groups and participating in discussion forums.
Sign up to their regular news updates, access their publications and journals, online services and events, such as conferences. Some offer mentoring schemes to support students or new graduates entering the profession, assist with financial support, and can be an invaluable source of vacancies.