What are professional associations

Jobs often make up a large part of one’s identity, you spend so much time with co-workers and fellow professionals it makes sense to band together to try and advance the field in which you work. In this latest blog series, we are taking a look at Professional Associations as democratic institutions and their impact. 

Professional Associations – In a Nutshell

The concept behind an association with profession-based membership is to advance, discuss and protect that profession. In addition, the more social aspects of getting to know other professionals are highly emphasised.

Professional associations are often compared to unions. Indeed, unions are a type of association but with one significant difference – they are granted the right to engage in collective bargaining with employers. but are considerably less formal. Professional Associations are therefore considerably less formal. They provide everything from lobbying local, regional, and national government in the interests of their members to providing training and networking events to their members to strengthen their respective professions.

Structure – who runs the Professional Association?

On a day-to-day basis, the association is run by an elected board of directors. Similarly to the structure of directors in a corporation, they decide upon the strategy and direction that the professional association should take yet are fully accountable to their membership base.

Board members serve a fixed term, typically between 2 and 5 years. These terms are often staggered so that not all members are re-elected at once. The board must consist of at least three members but is most often made up of between 7 and 12.

Learn more about the Board of Directors of Professional Associations

Board Elections to Ensure Membership Accountability

While the board runs the association, they do so with the consent of the members at large. Depending on the association’s bylaws elections can be held by mail, in person at an AGM or online.

Elections are an integral aspect of all professional associations. As they are groups of professionals looking to advance their own professions collectively, it is imperative that voices are not lost and the right board members are elected.

Learn more about switching to online voting for your next board election today