Why a Credential Is a Good Choice for Young Professionals

Professional development is key to career advancement for association execs of all levels. But earning a credential is something young professionals may want to consider. Beyond professional growth, it will also help them lead the industries they serve into the future.

Recent studies have revealed two things about millennials. One, we join associations for training and career advancement. And, two, we value certifications and other certificate and digital badging programs.

I’m a perfect example of point two, which is why two years ago, I decided to pursue ASAE’s Certified Association Executive (CAE) credential.

As with other credentials and certifications, it’s all about the experience. It’s the feeling of continued learning, commitment, and accomplishment.

To me, the CAE is the best industry-relevant letters of commendation you can get and is arguably the highest honor an association executive can earn.

And, to other young professionals, whether you are new or have been in associations for a few years, embarking on the CAE journey can benefit your professional growth now and in the future—and it goes beyond adding three letters after your name.

As with other credentials and certifications, it’s all about the experience. It’s the feeling of continued learning, commitment, and accomplishment.

But fair warning: The process—which usually involved months of studying, practice exams, and handwritten flashcards—isn’t at all easy and can feel daunting. However, I promise you’ll find it rewarding, which is why you may want to consider earning the CAE as your next career goal.

After all, we—as young professionals—are the future of our profession. To step in as emerging leaders, we need to be well-rounded and ready to make an impact. The CAE can help you do that.

Throughout the experience, you learn the “big picture” way of thinking. You get to understand what it takes to run an association of any type, size, or budget.

No matter what position you currently hold, the CAE brings value to not only your career but also to your association—as well as its volunteers and members—your peers, and even to HR hiring professionals and future employers. It shows you are a committed professional who is serious about their career.

In addition, the CAE is highly recognizable. Joining approximately 4,000 other CAEs worldwide, you’ll have opportunities to connect and collaborate with similarly committed professionals, take advantage of CAE-only events, and advance the profession collectively.

After becoming a CAE, you’ll then become a resource to others in terms of providing guidance and fostering a dynamic relationship with your coworkers. The CAE helps you craft that culture of knowledge sharing, exchange of perspectives, and healthy debates around the office. It helps break the inevitable silos and pushes everyone’s thinking outside the box.

As a CAE, you’ll also be required to remain engaged and to always seek professional development opportunities for continuing education—allowing you to stay up to date with practices relevant to association management and continue interacting with other professionals.

In a nutshell: Invest in yourself and consider the CAE. Don’t wait for a current or future employer to invest in you. Trust me when I say you’ll reap the benefits before you know it.

And by doing so, you’ll join many of your fellow young professionals in helping to transform and make the association profession relevant to the next generation—us. You’re more ready than you think.


DeeJay R. Garringo, CAE

By DeeJay R. Garringo, CAE

DeeJay R. Garringo, CAE, is association deputy executive at STAT Association Management, Inc, in Fairfax, Virginia. MORE

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