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.