Should I get a job at an association management company?

In one sense, working for an association management company (AMC) is no different than working for an association (sometimes also referred to as a “captive” association staff employment). In both cases you work for for an association, complete with volunteers and all of the other things that make associations unique.

On the other hand, working for an association management company has a number of subtle differences versus working for an association. When working for an association management company:

– You may work for more than one association.
– You may hold different positions in the associations (e.g. education manager in one association, event coordinator in another association).
– You may split some or all days between the associations.
– You may occasionally pitch in to help with other associations managed by the AMC during peak/overflow periods.
– You may be moved to another association inside the AMC.
– You may be an employee of the AMC, not the association.
– You may be paid by the AMC, not the association.

Association staff members at association management companies may also have more career options inside of their organization, although that is heavily dependent on the size of the AMC versus the size of alternative employment at a captive association. If you work at an association with 75 staff members, you probably have more options than you would at an association management company with only 5 staff members. Of course, that could change overnight if the association management company adds another association client tomorrow.

In fact, change and variety are probably the greatest differences between being on an association management company staff and a captive association staff.

Which is best for you? There is no general answer to that question because every association and every association management company is different. Ultimately, the best answer for each individual will depend on the leadership and staff philosophy of each organization. But don’t be rule out either option. The core experience for both captive association staffs and association management company staffs is the same: it’s about the association and the volunteers.

Have you worked for both an association and an association management company? How would you compare the experiences?

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