Professional organizations set the standard

Maybe you've been thinking about checking out a professional association or a local IT organization. Mark Kaelin, who's been to more than a few meetings, describes your options.

Why professional organizations?
Whether you are a programming grunt tolling away in some darkened cubicle or the chief financial officer of a Fortune 500 company, membership in an organization of information technology professionals can be of tremendous benefit to your career. Not only in terms of personal networking with other professionals but in terms of keeping abreast of the latest technical developments in the industry.

Many professional organizations provide benefits such as newsletters, continuing professional education, and the development of professional standards of competency and conduct. Information is disseminated from these organizations through e-mail, Web sites, and the ever-popular conference meeting. While many require paid membership as a precursor to receiving benefits, just as many require only an e-mail address.

Prominent organizations
American Society for Information Science (ASIS)
One of the oldest and most notable organizations in information technology is the American Society for Information Science. Annual dues for this organization are currently $115.

According to the ASIS Web site :

“Since 1937 ASIS has been the society for information professionals leading the search for new and better theories, techniques, and technologies to improve access to information. ASIS brings together diverse streams of knowledge, focusing what might be disparate approaches into novel solutions to common problems. ASIS bridges the gaps not only between disciplines but also between the research that drives and the practices that sustain new developments.”

The ASIS publishes the Journal of the American Society for Information Science, a monthly trade publication that is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. In addition to the journal, the ASIS has an extensive continuing education program for information professionals. The CE program is presented as part of the ASIS conference or regional meetings. The next conference is Oct. 31-Nov. 4, 1999, at the Marriott Hotel in Washington D.C.

Association of Information Technology Professionals (AITP)
The Association of Information Technology Professionals was formed in the 1950s as a users’ group for the technically minded to keep ahead of the technological learning curve. Annual membership dues vary by regional chapter, but the average is around $120.

The organization’s mission is:

“…to provide superior leadership and education in Information Technology. AITP is dedicated to using the synergy of Information Technology partnerships to provide education and benefits to our members and to working with the industry to assist in the overall promotion and direction of Information Technology.”

The organization maintains a Code of Ethics for its members as well as Standards of Conduct. The emphasis is on the obligation members have toward management and the professional responsibility they have to achieve competence, skill, and knowledge. The AITP publishes a monthly newsletter, The Information Executive, which focuses on current industry topics with contributions from industry experts, practitioners, and educators.

The Information Technology & Telecommunications Association (TCA)
The TCA was formed originally in 1961 to exchange information, ideas, and experiences in the telecommunications industry. Today, the TCA is comprised of diversified organizations, in regional chapters on an international scale.

The TCA’s mission:

“The Information Technology and Telecommunications Association is the resource for information technology and telecommunications professionals involved in transporting, connecting and integrating data, image, video and voice.”

The TCA publishes New Connections, a monthly newsletter that is available for download from their Web site. In addition, the site provides peer-to-peer personal networking, political lobbying, and continuing education opportunities. Annual membership dues are $375 for Member Associates and $485 for Vendor Associates.

Institute for Certification of Computing Professionals (ICCP)
Founded in 1973, the Institute for Certification of Computing Professionals is acknowledged throughout the information and technology sectors as an authoritative source of professional certification. The CCP examinations demand a high degree of professional competence. The tests are organized into 17 specialty exams ranging from Business Information Systems to RPG/400 Language.

The ICCP offers 2 professional designations:
  1. Certified Computing Professional (CCP)
  2. Associate Computing Professional (ACP)

The Official Exam Review Outline, which contains an expanded outline of the core examination, also contains each specialty exam and the programming language exams, and it may be purchased directly from the ICCP office. The ICCP also provides a series of separate study materials for the core and selected specialty examinations. Each Official Exam Review Outline is $59 plus shipping and handling.

The System Administrators Guild (SAGE) and the USENIX Association
The System Administrators Guild is a Special Technical Group (STG) of the USENIXAssociation . USENIX is the Advanced Computing Systems Association, founded in 1975. USENIX brings together the community of engineers, system administrators, scientists, and technicians working on the cutting edge of the computing world.

According to the SAGE FAQ, the organization’s mission is:

“…to advance the status of computer system administration as a profession, establish standards of professional excellence and recognize those who attain them, develop guidelines for improving the technical and managerial capabilities of members of the profession, and promote activities that advance the state of the art or the community.”

Individual membership to the USENIX Association is $80, with an additional $30 required for membership in SAGE. The benefits of membership include access to a library via the World Wide Web of the full text from previous USENIX events.

Society of Information Technology Management (SocITM)
The Society of Information Technology Management was formed in 1985 with the main stated objective being to promote the effective and efficient use of Information Technology in Local Government and the Public Sector within the United Kingdom. Full Membership is open to officers directly employed by qualifying organizations in the public sector and who have a major influence within their authority on matters of IT strategy and/or IT policy and/or IT delivery functions. Full membership is L75 annually.

Local organizations
Besides the numerous national and international organizations, there are thousands of local professional organizations promoting information technology in their corners of an ever-shrinking world. Organizations like the Kentucky Network of Information Technology Enterprises (KNITE) (located in my corner of the world) work in local communities to educate the general public about information technology, to support local businesses in the implementation of technology, and to engage information technology professionals in local community development. These organizations are the best way for professionals to meet their local peer group in a mutually beneficial setting.

Don’t ignore the benefits
For information technology professionals, the benefits of membership in professional organizations, whether national or local, should not be underestimated. The establishment of a professional community in the guise of professional organizations, where members can freely associate, develop relationships, and exchange ideas, transcends the more usual aspects of professional life to create common ground. As information technology moves from the province of the educated elite to the general consuming population, the importance of professional standards of ethics, education, and competence will greatly increase. Consumers and other nonprofessionals will require a certain known standard from those of us who develop and implement technological change. Like it or not, ready or not, information technology and the professionals who have taken the responsibility to implement it have become too vital to rely on chance. Professional organizations set the standards that increase confidence and reduce uncertainty.

Description Next Major Meeting
American Society for Information Science
8720 Georgia Avenue, Suite 501
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Tel: (301) 495-0900
Fax: (301) 495-0810
Oct. 31- Nov. 4, 1999
J.W. Marriott Hotel
Washington, D.C.
Association of Information Technology Professionals
315 South Northwest Hwy., Suite. 200
Park Ridge, IL 60068-4278
Tel: (800) 224-9371
Fax: (847) 825-1693
Oct. 14-16, 1999
The Westin O'Hare
Rosemont, IL
The Information Technology & Telecommunications Association
74 New Montgomery, Suite 230
San Francisco, CA 94105
Tel. (415) 777-4647
Fax (415) 777-5295
European Association of Manufacturers of Business Machines
and Information Technology Industry
Frankfurt office:
Lyoner Street 18, D-60528 Frankfurt, Germany
Tel: ++49/69/6603-1531
Fax: ++49/69/6603-1510
Institute for Certification of Computing Professionals (ICCP)
2200 East Devon Avenue, Suite 247
Des Plaines, IL 60018
Tel: (800) U-GET-CCP
Fax: (847) 299-4280
Information Technology Training Association Inc.
4210 Spicewood Springs Road, Suite 103
Austin, TX 78759
Tel: (512) 502-9300
Fax: (512) 502-9308
Strategies for Success North America 2000
May 4-6, 2000
Grapevine, TX
USENIX Association and The System Administrators Guild
The USENIX Association
2560 Ninth Street, Suite 215
Berkeley, CA 94710
Tel: (510) 528-8649
Fax: (510) 548-5738
USENIX Annual Technical Conference
Jun. 18-23
San Diego, CA
Manufacturers' Association for Information Technology
PHD House, 4th Floor, Opp. Asian Games Village
New Delhi - 110 016, INDIA
Tel: +91-11-6855487, 6854284, 6866976
Fax: +91-11-6851321
IT ASIA 2000
Feb. 8-11, 2000
Pragati Maidan, New Delhi, India
Society of Information Technology Management
PO Box 121
Northampton NN4 6TG
Tel/Fax: 01604 674800
Canadian Information Processing Society (CIPS)
One Yonge Street, Suite 2401
Toronto, Ontario M5E 1E5
Tel: (416) 861-CIPS (2477)
Fax: (416) 368-9972
Informatics 1999 - Edmonton
Oct. 18 - 22, 1999
The Institute of Information Scientists
44-45 Museum Street, London, WC1A 1LY, UK
Tel: 0171-831 8003
Fax: 0171-430 1270
Independent Computer Consultants Association
11131 South Towne Square, Suite F
St. Louis, MO 63123
Tel: (800) 774-4222 or (314) 892-1675
Fax: (314) 487-1345
At-Large Chapter
First Tuesday - 8:00 p.m.(Central Time) , ALC Chat Room
Cost: Members $0
(775) 727-7694 for information


Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to,, and TechRepublic.

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