To join or not to join?

Anyone who works in IT and wants to become a member of a professional IT organisation has several options. The trick is finding...

Anyone who works in IT and wants to become a member of a professional IT organisation has several options. The trick is finding out which organisation best suits your needs and what skills and experience you need to become a member. Membership criteria for each of the bodies varies according to what level of membership you want to apply for, your academic qualifications, training and experience. Roisin Woolnough asked the top four IT professional bodies to explain exactly what they do, why you should join and how to go about it. And on p126 readers comment on professionalism

British Computer Society

Colin Thompson
Deputy chief executive

The British Computer Society is the chartered body for information systems (IS) practitioners and is the largest professional body devoted to that community. It aims to focus on the real needs of today's IS practitioners and to increase the recognition and standing of its members throughout the industry. Updating skills and professional development is increasingly important and the BCS supports its members through a range of services including:

  • information and networking: a wide range of publications, local branch and specialist group events. Its continuing professional development programme assists members in identifying their learning needs and in planning the activities.

  • education and qualifications: industry-recognised qualifications in the IS field, from the European Computer Driving Licence aimed at end-users to Information Systems Examining Board qualifications for IS practitioners at all stages in their careers. The professional examination is a degree-level qualification. The BCS also accredits other university courses and company-based training schemes.

    Members can take advantage of an extended range of online services, discounts on conferences and seminars, financial, insurance and other services.


    Formed: 1957

    Number of members: 38,000

    Membership costs: from £14 for full-time students to £102 for other members and £128 for fellows.

    Contact details:

    Tel: 01793-417417

    E-mail: [email protected]

    Institution of Electrical Engineers

    Mike Rodd
    Director of knowledge services

    The Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEE) is Europe's largest professional engineering organisation. The rapid growth in IT has been reflected in the growth of the IEE's informatics community; an increasing number of its members now work in areas such as computing, software and knowledge engineering, communication and multimedia. The institution provides support and advice throughout a member's career and offers a range of services, delivered in a variety of ways to suit each individual. These include training courses, specialised events and publications.

    A growing number of services are now provided over the Web. The online Computer Forum, for example, is designed specifically for those working within the IT profession, offering news, views and technical information, as well as discussions and virtual events. To meet the needs of its members, all the IEE's traditional learned society activities are being re-engineered to support dynamic, internationally-based community interaction through professional networks. Membership of the IEE brings with it a professional qualification that is acknowledged and respected worldwide. There are various grades of membership depending on educational qualifications and experience.


    Formed: 1871

    Members: over 130,000 worldwide

    Membership costs: from £10 for under-21s up to £96 for more senior members

    Contact details:

    Tel: 020-7344 5459

    E-mail: [email protected]

    Institute for the Management of Information Systems

    Ian Rickwood
    Chief executive

    Established in 1978, the Institute for the Management of Information Systems is the leading professional association for IS professionals. Its objective is to see ISmanagement take its place as a respected profession in today's society. Its work in accreditation, examination, training, standards, skills development and representation of the profession benefits members, employers and society itself. By joining the institute, practitioners help raise the profile of their chosen profession and enjoy a range of benefits and services including:

  • professional recognition and accreditation

  • networking opportunities

  • information services and support

  • career development support

  • financial and insurance services and product discounts

    Interested individuals are invited to send in a completed application form, available from the Imis Secretariat, along with a recent CV outlining details of qualifications and experience in IS/IT. Each application is assessed to ensure the candidate meets the accreditation criteria, and to assign the appropriate grade of membership (an application fee may apply). Corporate membership is also available, giving organisations access to the information and lobbying services of the institute.


    Formed: 1978

    Members: 11,000

    Membership costs: from £35 for student membership to £100 to be a fellow

    Contact details:

    Tel: 0700-0023456

    E-mail: [email protected]

    Institution of Analysts and Programmers

    Michael Ryan
    Director general

    The Institution of Analysts and Programmers (IAP), founded 30 years ago, is the UK's leading specialised professional body for systems analysts and computer programmers. The purpose of the IAP is to promote vocational skills and professionalism, to help members advance their careers, and to secure public recognition for the important work they do. The institution has a written code of conduct and members are expected to maintain high professional standards.

    Most people join the IAP for prestige, but there are many other practical benefits. These include regular publications and meetings where members can meet and talk shop. The Institution can advise on career development and a wide range of business and technical problems.

    This service is free to members and students. There is a unique scheme for professional indemnity insurance, and first-class group health and pension schemes. Some of the top people in IT are IAP members.

    There are four qualified grades of membership: fellow, member, associate member and graduate. There is also student membership. Applications are evaluated using a system of points, taking account of the quantity and quality of the applicants qualifications, training and work experience in analysis, programming and business.


    Formed: 1972

    Members: up to 3,000

    Membership costs: current annual subscription for a full member of the institute is £80

    Contact details:

    Tel: 020-8567 2118/4379

    E-mail: [email protected]

  • Read more on IT jobs and recruitment