Leadership optimize

Which professional computing association should I join?


If you work in the IT industry you have probably thought about joining a professional association.  As an IT Manager I am considering it.  You may already belong to one of these groups and can advise me.  I can't make up my mind as to which one to join.  So I made a list of my selection criteria and then did some research as to what is available.

After establishing my criteria I felt like I was making a list for a fraternity, but here it is:

1. A well-established organization that has been around awhile.

2. The organization must have a large and diverse membership.

3. I expect to pay dues or fees but not an arm and a leg.

4. A local active chapter is a must. I prefer the LA area

5. It must be a highly regarded organization that publishes.

6. It would be wonderful if it focused on IT management.

7. It must accept member contributions for publication

8. Conferences, career resources, training and testing.

After extensive research I came up with the following list.  They are not ranked in any particular order.  Now that I am ready to fork over some bucks I wonder how many Tech Republic members are also members of a professional computer society or association and which ones. You can help me decide by adding comments about the choices.

1. ACM - Association for Computing Machinery.  ACM has been around over 60 years, has 83,000 members, 34 SIGs and 40 publications.  There is a SIG for Management Information Systems that seems like it might meet my needs but it doesn't seem like a perfect fit.  Cost to join is only $100 with another $100 if you want to access the library.  There is a local chapter in LA but it looks like a general chapter with nothing specifically for the MIS SIG.

2. IEEE - Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers- I don't design computer hardware so I don't know if this is a good fit for an IT Manager of a small business like me.  There are over 300,000 members with tons of conferences, journals, local chapters and SIGs or societies. The IEEE Computer Society might be a good fit.  Cost is $165 plus $50 for the Computer Society.  This is a very influential organization that has set industry standards since 1963.

3. ISACA - Information Systems Audit and Control Association- I don't know about this one.  It vaguely looks like it might have a fit somewhere since I am responsible for the control of the network and the servers. It might be a better fit if I were the CIO of a large financial institution.  It was started in 1967 and has about 65,000 members.  They offer a couple of prestigious certifications but nothing for the small business IT Manager.  I think I'll pass on this one.

4. NASCE - National Association of Communication Systems Engineers - It claims to be the world's leading non-profit, professional, standards and credentialing organization for the IT industry.  Membership is $125.  They claim to have 14,000 members.  I'm sorry - I haven't heard of them.  They must be relatively new.  Can anyone help me out here?

5. TIA - Telecommunications Industry Association- I have heard about this organization through my MCSE exams.  It has a long history but has been in it's current form since 1988.  Unfortunately, they do not offer anything for the IT professional and do not accept individual membership.  It might be good for a large network engineering company.

6. AITP - Association of Information Technology Professionals - It looks like I hit paydirt with this one.  There are local chapters. Costs are $155 or $160.  The Orange County group has more members than the LA group.  This was started in 1951.  I remember it as the DPMA - Data Processing Manager's Association.  They offer several certifications.

7. APCUG - Association of Personal Computer User Groups - Not designed as a professional association but great for anyone interested in the benefits of a computer user group.  Started in 1986, it is a great source of information for organizing and promoting computer user groups.  I'll bet you can find a local group in your area.

8. NaSPA - Network and System Professionals Association - Started in 1986, the association provides peer networking, member discounts, job placement, and technical information.  It looks like it might be a good fit but there is no local chapter in LA.  I could find no cost information to join and the Tech Republic site has better forums and blogs.

9. NPA - Network Professional Association- Founded in the early 90's as an association of Novell Engineers, it was later expanded to include Microsoft engineers.  They offer the CNP certification.  Cost is $175 and there are local chapters in my area.  I'm not sure how popular it is.  The Web site claims 'thousands'.  I'm interested.  Should I join?

10. SoCal IT Pro Association - I know this is real specific to my area so I apologize to readers from outside Southern California who have waded through this list but I had to include them to see if anybody in Southern California has heard of them or can recommend them.  It's only $50 to join and they are down in Irvine.  Is it worth it to join?

I think I've narrowed it down to the AITP and the NPA.  Even if you are not a member of any of these organizations, given my criteria and the list I've reviewed, which one do you think I should join?  Thanks for your help.

35 comments
eddie.frye
eddie.frye

Information Technology will not work without Electronics. I have a Diploma in Electronics Servicing and an Associates Degree in Electronics Engineering Technology. So, I of course, am more favorable to IEEE and their Computer Society. My current job is in IT, as a Systems Administrator for Local Government. IEEE Computer Society offers online classes as well as Brainbench Exams through Element K. Actually IEEE was a merger of IRE (Institute of Radio Engineers) and AIEE (American Institute of Electrical Engineers) which historically started in the early 1800's. Thomas Alva Edison and Alexander Graham Bell were both vice-presidents elect of AIEE in 1884 - 1885. Alexander Graham Bell was President elect of AIEE in 1891 ? 1892. The emblem outline represents Franklin's kite. There is a lot of American History in IEEE as well as longevity. See History links below: http://www.ieee.org/web/aboutus/history/index.html http://www.ieee.org/web/aboutus/history_center/ieee_emblem.html http://www.ieee.org/organizations/pes/public/2007/mar/peshistory.html I believe I will stay with the IEEE Computer Society since I have been with them since 2005 and they have so much to offer now and historically.

gkrew
gkrew

I am not a member of any but I do think about joining one sometimes.

sgilsdorf
sgilsdorf

AITP would be my choice. And get involved since you get out of it what you put into it. My local chapter holds monthly meetings with training seminars with 3 diffent tracks, one of which is dedicated to Management.

rcaban
rcaban

I am an IT Manager in the Philadelphia area. I am trying to join the AITP and live in Philadelphia. I emailed the local chapter for Philadelphia and Norristown 4 days ago and did not get a response from either chapter. Also, the websites are outdated and one of them does not come up. I wanted to see if these chapters are still active before I joined. I believe they are inactive after checking the events on the aitp.org site and see no events for the entire year from these chapters. Does anyone know of a chapter close to the Philadelphia area? I see a very active chapter in PA - Leheigh but that's too far for me. Roy Caban

Janster
Janster

I've attended a few ISACA meetings.They are a good group. They seem to focus on IT auditing, security and internal controls. This would be a good group for someone who is doing Sarbanes Oxley work.

chuckmen
chuckmen

I've been a member of AITP for several years now and it is an incredible "professional" organization. Through the monthly meetings I have "grown" in my career through personal development. I highly recommend AITP.

wkbryant19
wkbryant19

Tim: My suggestion is to decide based on local conditions. In Houston, I joined AITP since they were active (monthly meetings) which is good for networking, and focused on mostly management topics. From your description, I would visit AITP (both chapters in your area) and the local SoCal group, then decide. Regards, Bill Bryant

nevans
nevans

Palmetto: As the immediate Past President of the Charleston Chapter of AITP I would suggest that you visit our website www.aitp-charleston.org check out our calendar and come to one of our meetings as a guest. I think this may help in determining if this is the organization for you. NE

IT_Guy_z
IT_Guy_z

...and/or their ITPro membership?

chipmonger
chipmonger

As an IT Manager, I would recommend SIM - Society for Information Management. See simnet.org for more information.

modell
modell

Thanks for posting this article. I too have been a little lost on the societies that are out there. This information has been very helpful. Great Post.

deborah
deborah

Greetings from the Association of Information Technology Professionals. I want to thank you, Tim for your great article on the need for IT professionals to join a professional society. AITP is a individual membership-based society and provides fellowship, education and networking opportunities for a diverse group of IT professionals. With the baby boomer retirement and new global delivery IT industry, we feel it is critical that our IT professionals have a forum to stay abreast of the changes to remain competitive and to stay connected through fellowship to path their careers and meet their personal goals. If you are interested in learning more about AITP and how to join, please contact our HQ at 800-224-9271 or by email at aitp_hq@aitp.org. You may also visit us at www.aitp.org to learn more and enroll online. Sincerely, Deborah Lovell 2008 Executive Vice President/President-Elect AITP, The Network of IT Professionals Direct: 972-682-5453

GL44
GL44

I pay memberships in all of these and used to be a member of ASM (Association of Systems Management). I think my heart really belongs to ASM, but they went out of business during the previous recession. The publications in ACM and IEEE are excellent and are worth the money and time just to keep up with what is going on. TechPro Guild is excellent, but its articles tend to be very focused on specific technologies or general business problems. This is often exactly what most programmer/analysts want, but I think they should also be a member of either ACM or IEEE to broaden their horizons. Both offer free access to a large number of books and courses that would help a professional. NaSPA is primarily aimed towards the professionals in the Enterprise Server area. They have been trying to broaden their article coverage to the Microsoft world since most Enterprise Server people are in MS world for their front end processing. If you are into the Enterprise Server area it is the only organization that is available. ACM and IEEE usually have local chapters in universities and those chapters are often pretty active. AITP seems to be geared more towards management. The old DPMA was always where the salesmen went to sell their products to managers. I don't know if it has changed any or not. It sounds like you have an interest in management, if so I would check out AITP and either or both of ACM and IEEE. Go to several meetings of all three, guests are normally welcome and if it is a dinner affair the cost will be slightly more for non members, but reasonable. Going to the meetings will give you the best insight into the people who attend and the kinds of activities and programs they offer. Mcuh of the value of the organization is in the local chapter and you can only evaluate that by attending their meetings. I haven?t gone to many local chapter meetings in the last few years. I miss ASM. It filled the needs of the system analyst and project leader and nothing else seems to have replaced it. But as part of my own career planning I intend to take my own advice and go to all three and see what they are like. Lastly, if this is your profession, don?t be afraid to spend a few hundred dollars expanding and polishing your skills. It could return thousands and make your career much more enjoyable. These should not be looked at as nice to do things if you have time, but as tasks you have to perform just like any other task in order to make yourself more productive and useful The more harried you are with projects and deadlines, they more apt you are to need organizations like these.

john.a.wills
john.a.wills

ACM is basically for programmers and academics, but the SIGs make it suitable for everyone. Don't worry about it not being so much for managers: you should be expanding your general knowledge of IT.

Bee-Man88
Bee-Man88

Same here in MA... It would be great to find an active tech organization. I have looked a few times, but nothing seems active. At one point I joined ASQ (American Society for Quality) because of the focus on technical industries. I lost interest after a year although they did have an active presence in the area.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Anybody in central SC aware of any active professional organizations? I think TIA has a local chapter, but I don't think they fit my focus (general IT, user support).

tmalone
tmalone

Thanks Bill. I plan on doing just that - attending one of the local meetings. Based on the votes and the comments, it looks like AITP meets my criteria. Thanks to all who voted for helping me make my decision.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Charleston is over two hours from the Lexington side of Columbia. Between the price of gas and my being ready for bed by 10:00 or 10:30, I'm looking for something a little closer to home. Great web site, though. I was surprised by how many organizations don't even have a 2008 calendar posted yet. It's easier for people to participate when they know when the meetings are held.

tmalone
tmalone

I looked at CompTIA but the ITPro membership did not meet one of my criteria of local groups for networking. I should have included this one in my write-up instead of a couple of the lame ones I included. Thanks for including CompTIA. I have a couple of their certifications so I know they provide value to my career but forums, newsletters and a library I can get from several places including TR. I want to meet with my peers in person to do some networking the old fashioned way. It's a kind of long-term strategy I have to get to know other IT Managers. It helps me keep my finger on the pulse of trends including the job market which I can't get from Dice.

tim
tim

Thanks chipmonger. I missed SIM in my search. That becomes a viable option. Is it just old guys like me that are interested in joining professional associations or are there not many young IT Managers these days? The question is prompted by the picture of a meeting of SIM members I saw on the LA chapter of their website.

tmalone
tmalone

The comments add a lot. Although I've been reading Tech Republic for years, I'm still new to blogging here. Your comments are appreciated. - Tim

tim
tim

Now that's why I joined Tech Republic - to get helpful feedback like this. You are a scholar and a gentleman. Thank you for taking the time to provide the detail on your experience with professional IT associations. I was beginning to wonder if anybody in the real world has time for groups like this any more. Maybe it's just here in California. It looks like a lot of the local chapters I investigated meet in University settings. You advice is appreciated - an investment in expanding skill is always worthwhile. As a solo IT Manager, my main interest is in finding associates in other companies with similar IT functions with whom I can solicit advice in implementing new technology or new policy.

Dr Dij
Dr Dij

I just renu'd in Dec and I paid either 103 or $113. Which you join depends on what value you get. They both look good on your resume. I'm in both. Pubs are good. I joined to get access to the online courses. I've been running their courses every spare moment I get at work. Really pays off. Even some 'hi end' courses. If you want to join just ONE of IEEE vs ACM browse their course catalog. These are an incredible bargain, as they are included with emmbersnhip and are thousands if purchased separately. I think both have books24x7.com subset and ACM has o'reilly books, IEEE may also have these. ACM uses skillsoft courses (which bought thomson net-g but I don't see those merged yet into the offerings), IEEE has element-k course I think. They do have local meetings. Can be interesting.

deborah
deborah

Greetings from the Association of Information Technology Professionals. I am the Association's Executive Vice President and want to thank Tim for his great article and research on the need for IT professionals to join a professional society. AITP provides fellowship, education and networking opportunities for a diverse group of IT professionals. With the baby boomer retirement and new global delivery IT industry, we feel it is critical that our IT professionals have a forum to stay abreast of the changes to remain competitive and to stay connected through fellowship to path their careers and meet their personal goals. AITP currently has a chapter in Charleston and welcomes new chapters. We would be interested in talking with you and your other respondents about starting a local chapter in the South Carolina Midlands! And we encourage you to contact our Charleston Chapter leaders and visit with them. If you are interested in learning more about AITP, please call our HQ at 800-224-9371 or by email at aitp_hq@aitp.org. You may also contact me directly at 972-682-0501 or by reply email. Please visit us at www.aitp.org Sincerely, Deborah Lovell 2008 Executive Vice President/President-Elect AITP, The Network of IT Professionals

jholt
jholt

Looks like I am in the same boat as you. I work in Cayce/West Columbia supervising a help desk. Nice to see a local on here (somewhat)

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

You may get faster and more valid responses by posting your question in the "Questions" area. It is considered rude to post unrelated questions in the forums attached to articles and will usualy only result in less than polite responses.

bfpower
bfpower

In the research I have done in the past, I thought AITP looked like a great choice. You are making a solid decision. The fact that they have a VP surfing the Web looking to see what people are saying about them tells me that they are on top of things. Good luck!

tmalone
tmalone

I hadn't thought about SAGE but see that they have an LA user group - meets at SUN in El Segundo near the airport. I used to be a Red Hat administrator at a previous employer but we're an all Microsoft shop where I'm at now. Thanks for pointing me to them.

K12TechDir
K12TechDir

I recently joined IEEE again for the first time in years (my degree is in EE), and I was charged $165. One of the advantages of IEEE is the benefits. As one of the largest professional societies in the world, they get great pricing on insurance. They have a few types of insurance that my current employer doesn't offer -- disability, life -- and their pricing is good. They also have professional liability insurance, I believe. Thanks for the heads up on the books, that would be a great benefit to look for!

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Charleston is a two-hour drive from Lexington. Remember, not all states are as small at Texas :-) While forming a Columbia-area chapter is always a possibility, I'm not prepared to commit the time necessary at start a new chapter of an organization I'm not personally yet familiar with. Thanks for posting though. Hopefully other members closer to existing local chapters will benefit from the information.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Welcome to TR! Justin James, who writes a programming web log here at TR, is across the river in Cola. NickNeilsen (Nick, sorry if I botched the spelling) is based in the area. One of the ladies recently relocated to Aiken; my apologies for forgetting whom. I'm with Union Switch & Signal (www.switch.com) over in Batesburg but live near Lexington High.

Dr Dij
Dr Dij

is based on options you select. I just joined the computer society and didn't get the digital library (dift from the online books collection) other orgs to join would be professional user groups for software you use, such as biz objects user group, SAP user groups, they have local meetings which are informative and you network with potential employers / employees / coworkers.. and sites like the TDWI.org if you're into databases / bi /datawarehousing, aiim.org if you're into ECM, EDM, etc. and there's an org for data center personnel which has its own conferences that look informative.