The Best Accounting Career Resources Offered by Professional Associations

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As an accountant, you are likely aware of the numerous professional organizations in your industry.

Membership in these organizations not only helps expand your financial network, but it also grants access to various career resources. These tools can be useful for gaining more experience as an accountant. Plus, when you grow professionally, your employer benefits, too.

Conferences and seminars
One of the key ways accountants continue their education is by attending conferences and seminars. While there are many events open to all accountants, joining certain professional organizations often has another perk: discounted registration at the events they host. The Accounting & Financial Women's Alliance (AFWA), for example, offers lower fees for its national and regional conferences as a benefit of membership.

As a result of the reduced cost, you will likely be able to attend more conferences, providing more opportunities to network and update your knowledge of accounting standards and trends.

Books, publications and journal articles
Career resources made available by professional organizations can be helpful for staying updated on the latest research in the accounting industry. As in other fields, access to journals and publications on accounting and finance topics usually requires a subscription, which can be expensive for nonmembers. Luckily, some organizations provide free subscriptions to their publications as part of their member benefits.

If you were to join the American Payroll Association (APA), for instance, you would gain a complimentary subscription to PAYTECH, its monthly print magazine detailing the latest news from the payroll industry. Additionally, payroll professionals can take advantage of PAYTECHonline, its convenient online format.

Another example is The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA), which grants access to The IIA Research Foundation Bookstore and exclusive access to book sales with up to 85 percent off.

Career centers
Membership in a professional organization is particularly beneficial when searching for a new job. Not only does membership look good on an accounting resume, but it can also give you access to career centers. Although nonmembers can still view job listings, members can apply directly through the organization's career website.

Certified public accountants (CPAs), for example, have access to the online career center of the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA). Through career centers, members can post their resume, search jobs and view resources such as cover letter tips to help them land a desired position.

Accountants who are returning to school for an advanced degree or certification can apply for scholarships from professional organizations, some of which are open solely to members. The AFWA, for instance, has two categories of scholarships that are available to the public. However, the scholarship certification program CPAexcel and Ph.D. programs are limited to members.

Professional organizations also offer many other career resources, such as discounts from businesses that partner with them. In addition to exclusive deals on professional publications and reduced conference fees, it doesn't hurt to get a discount on a new laptop or car rental.