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November 22, 2019

12 Reasons to Join a Professional Association

As a certified public accountant, your business relies on your reputation. Clients must see you as someone who is professional, experienced, and trustworthy. In addition to continuing education and maintaining your certification, joining a professional association is important. Joining an association like the UCPAA not only shows clients that you are dedicated to your industry but also provides many benefits for you.

1. New Job Prospects

If you are new to the field, you might discover that finding a job fresh off the graduation stage is more difficult than you anticipated. Standing out to the competition is not as easy without the right credentials, but a professional association remedies that. First, including membership to a CPA association to your resume opens up doors on its own. In addition, many of these organizations offer career resources. From job listings to resume workshops, resources vary, but all can help you get your foot in the door for an entry-level position.

2. Discounted Access to Conferences

Industry conferences are an excellent way to network, but entry fees and travel-related expenses are often more expensive than an entry-level CPA can afford. Joining a professional association may provide you with discounts, though. For a fraction of what non-members pay, you can attend conferences all over the country to help you learn more about your industry, keep up with trends in your field, and listen to well-known mentors in the industry. Sometimes, webinars are also available for discounted rates and are a great option for people who have families or other responsibilities that prevent them from traveling often.

3. Networking Opportunities

You don't need to travel to conferences to network when you're a member of a CPA association. The networking occurs right on your home turf as you get to know the other members of the organization. As you build relationships, you'll have people who can help you solve problems, introduce you to people who can help you climb the corporate ladder, or simply make friends with people who understand how demanding yet rewarding your job can be.

4. Mentorship Programs

One of the biggest benefits you'll find in an association as a new CPA is a mentor. Many associations offer mentorship programs that allow them to meet with experienced CPAs in their chosen fields. Sometimes, mentorship programs also provide internships or shadowing opportunities. Learning the trade from someone who is experienced provides you the opportunity to get an insider's look at the industry and make networking connections with other experienced CPAs.

5. Industry Standards

Joining an association helps you to keep atop of industry standards more easily. Associations provide information, often via e-newsletters, regarding updated certification requirements, new education opportunities, and other changing guidelines in the field. Statistics and best practices are usually covered as well, which gives members a leg up on non-members when it comes to keeping clients satisfied.

6. Influence Regulations

Some associations make it a point to attend town halls and other local government meetings that could affect the industry. Becoming a member of such an organization allows you the opportunity to speak on your own behalf when it comes to legislation that could change how you do your job. Speaking at town hall meetings also shows potential clients that you care about the community and are invested in what happens in your neighborhood or city.

7. Professional Development

Professional development is essential if you intend to bring on big clients or work for large accounting firms as your career advances. A CPA association often provides members-only material that makes it easier for you to hone your skills and learn how to keep your clients satisfied. Consider whether you'll have access to online classes, documentation, or workshops that help you do just that.

8. Leadership Opportunities

Joining a CPA association doesn't just help you learn as you advance your career. It also gives you the chance to teach other entry-level CPAs as they join the association. Whether you lead classes, meet with other members, or simply send out a monthly newsletter, providing your leadership skills to other individuals within the organization will help you to hone leadership skills and become known as an expert in your industry.

9. Cost Savings

Whether you're just starting out or you're looking into re-certification, joining an association can help you save money by reducing the cost of exam preparation and of re-certification. Purchasing review materials at a discounted rate can help you to ensure you're always ready for the next step in your career without breaking your bank.

10. Advocacy

Working as a CPA means needing to understand a wide variety of laws and regulations related to taxes. Joining an association helps you to keep atop of changing laws and provides an advocate for you for a variety of hot-button issues. Associations usually offer guidance in relation to the Affordable Care Act, CPA mobility, IRS services, patent assertion entities, and cash basis accounting, among many other situations.

11. Volunteer Opportunities

CPA associations provide you with ways to assist your community via volunteer opportunities. From CPA-related committees and panels to helping young adults learn more about financial literacy, volunteering makes you more favorable among your peers, potential clients, and community as a whole.

12. New Clients

Last but certainly not least, joining a CPA association is more likely to help you bring in new clients. Whether you work for individuals, small businesses, or large corporations, CPAs who have professional affiliations are more likely to obtain new clients and keep established ones interested in doing business. It shows a level of professionalism that a non-member simply won't be able to provide.

Becoming a certified public account affords you the opportunity to work in many fields. You might become a tax auditor, advise business CEOs on their financials, or offer tax consulting services to individuals. Regardless of which career path you decide to take as a CPA, one thing is certain. Joining an association upon graduation is essential for ensuring you climb the ladder to success. Many options are available, though, so be sure to research to ensure you join an organization that best meets your needs. 

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