It’s a constant struggle for IT consultants to stay on top of the field. It takes networking, exposure, credibility, and, of course, the skills and expertise of the moment. Many are finding that professional IT organizations can help them to achieve their business goals by offering services such as industry news, online resources, conferences, educational seminars, digital libraries, and special interest groups. As an introduction to these helpful resources, here’s a look at two professional organizations and what they have to offer.

The Association for Information Technology Professionals
The Association of Information Technology Professionals (AITP) was founded in the 1950s by a group of people who recognized the potential of technology. The association is geared toward IT professionals and agencies hoping to become more marketable in this rapidly changing field. Membership dues vary by regional chapter, but the average is about $120 a year.

The organization consists of professional and student chapters, which meet once a month. Forums are also available for a variety of current issues. In addition, the AITP publishes the Information Executive, which focuses on current topics like industry matters, information systems, and data processing. Many educators and industry professionals contribute to the publication on a regular basis. Information Executive features topics such as client/server management, online services, and systems integration as well as human resource updates and advertising opportunities.

Todd Easley, a quality assurance specialist, was first introduced to the AITP while working on his undergraduate degree in computer information systems at Murray State University, where the Nashville, TN, chapter sponsors a student chapter.

“I attended several of the monthly meetings at the Nashville Chapter of AITP,” Easley said. “I discovered that AITP … promotes the education and career advancement of its members. My membership in AITP has allowed me to establish a solid network within the IT community that keeps me up-to-date and informed on current issues.”

Benefits to AITP members include:

  • Unlimited borrowing from the AITP Lending Library, which has a collection of over 800 video, CD-ROM, and computer training courses.
  • Car rental discounts.
  • Free employment services.
  • Discounts on financial and legal services.
  • Health, life, long-term care, and error and omissions insurance.
  • Discounts on magazine subscriptions, shipping services, hotels, and travel.

Association for Computing Machinery
The oldest and largest computing society, the Association for Computer Machinery (ACM) was founded in 1947 and serves more than 80,000 professionals in more than 100 countries. Annual dues are $180 for its Professional Power Package.

The ACM offers more than two dozen publications for technology professionals. TechNews, for example, is a comprehensive news gathering service published three times a week. ACM’s newest publication, Ubiquity,is solely a forum and opinion magazine. The organization also offers a substantial digital library of bibliographic information, citations, articles, and journals.

Casey Workman, a software engineer, has found value in ACM’s conferences.

“The conferences I attended at ACM allowed me to network with other IT professionals and develop new techniques to accomplish certain tasks that I face on the job everyday,” Workman said.

ACM also offers 37 special interest groups that focus on a wide variety of technology issues. Some of these include applied computing, data communication, and computer architecture. The groups provide publications, workshops, and conferences for information exchange.

ACM’s Professional Power Package benefits include:

  • A digital library subscription, with an eight-year archive of ACM journals, publications, and conference proceedings.
  • Communications of the ACM, in print and online.
  • MemberNet quarterly newsletter as well as the latest ACM news and discounts.
  • Opportunities to network with more than 80,000 computer professionals.
  • Free “” e-mail.
  • Discounts on all ACM magazines, journals, books, and sponsored conferences.
  • Discounts on goods and services through the Member Value Plus (MVP) program.
  • Online member directory.
  • ACM professional and special interest group chapters.

Do you belong to a professional IT organization? What are the most valuable benefits of your membership? Share your thoughts by posting a comment below. If you have an article idea you’d like to share, send us a note.