Why Work for an Association? Everything You Need to Know

Most people don’t grow up striving to become an association professional. In fact, most people probably don’t know about an association career path until they become a member of one or start working for one. There’s a common denominator that all association professionals share and it’s something that makes the industry vastly different than any other career path.

Those who work for an association are relentlessly passionate about serving their members, a specific industry and all the constituents in which their association has any sort of social or monetary impact. 

There are hundreds of association jobs around the country waiting for corporate transplants, current association professionals, and even members to take on; the big question is…


What’s the big deal – WHY work for an association in the first place?

You’ll never really know what it’s like to work for an association until you work for one. It’s a unique profession that boasts a high level of gratification, enjoyment and life balance. The most notable reason many love the profession is that we work for a cause; not for a profit, not for better looking stock prices – we work for the betterment of the members or individuals we serve.

Check out these association jobs

Work for people, not profits

Association professionals are in the business of people. Working toward the betterment of an entire group of working class people, fighting harmful legislation so American Citizens can reap the benefits of our members services, developing cornerstone industry education so our members can do their job better… these are just a few highlights of the type of work that is done at an association.

And it’s not about profits, it’s about genuinely helping people.

The fact that associations are cause and people driven create a high sense of worth and satisfaction at the end of the day.

Unparalleled Annual/Regular Events and Conferences

Many associations are notorious for hosting great events. ASAE’s (The American Society of Association Executives) Annual Meeting is a great example of a stellar event; best of all, it brings all us association do-gooders together for a week of learning, festivities, networking and entertainment.

These huge events/conferences, which most industry associations host at least once a year, impact the entire work dynamic and emphasize the difference of working for an association vs. working at a for-profit.

Here are just a few reasons why annual conferences make working at an association a game changer:

  • Face time with members. Meeting the members and individuals you serve day in and day out gives perspective on just how important association work is. Hearing members say how much their association impacts their work and how much it helps them improve their career and help others makes for a gratifying career moment.
  • An event to look forward to. If you work for an association and haven’t been to your own conference, you need to go. Now. Find a way, make best friends with your meetings director, do what you need to do to get a spot on the roster. In all seriousness, if you find a way to add value to the event you will likely be chosen to go. Plus, if you know you’re going, you’ll have the whole entire year to anticipate and get excited about your conference.
  • Travel Opportunities. Association conferences are often destination events and typically last anywhere from 3 to 7 days. Want to sneak in a mini vacation after all the hustle, bustle and hard work from conference? Bump your return flight back a few days and book an extra night or two on your hotel. Invite members and co workers to do the same and explore the destination city. Plus, the work-travel is often just enough for the year without being overwhelming.

Another great reason to work in the association industry are the perks, benefits and balance. Associations often offer generous benefits packages and great work life balance; 37.5 hour work weeks are typical, which seems to be a rarity in the workplace now-a-days. How often do hear your friends boasting about their “50 hour weeks”? Not the norm in the association industry.

There’s something special about the association industry. It’s an industry based on helping people become better at what they do. It’s a fulfilling career path that doesn’t involve losing sleep over the latest stock prices or sales numbers. Most association professionals didn’t plan to chose their career path, and many who stumble into the association world never leave for a good reason.

Simply put: Association work is self-actualizing.