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  Professional Membership Boosts Employability
When times are hard and employment is under threat, there is the temptation to take the short-term view and focus purely on staying in a job. However, since employers have plenty of candidates to choose from, it's maybe a good idea to ensure you stand out from the crowd through membership of the right professional bodies. Professional memberships can play a huge part in improving skills as well as providing new contacts and networking opportunities. In addition, joining them does not require you to give up the day job in the same way that a higher education course might.

There are plenty of qualifications and professional bodies around. So you need to choose the ones that are relevant to your particular area of activity. We look at the main options you have to choose from.

RICS...

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) provides a widely recognised qualification for surveyors. Its members work in over 140 countries, so it's likely to help you land a well-paid and interesting job in just about any location you choose. Surveying is one of the best-paid professions within the construction sector and offers plenty of varied opportunities.

There are a number of routes to RICS membership, starting with the entry-level Associate grade for those with relevant work experience and vocational qualifications. Graduate routes are for those with an accredited degree and different levels of work experience while the Senior Professional route is for those with experience at the highest level. The Adaptation route is for experienced surveyors who have a non-accredited degree or membership of a recognised professional body and the Academic route is for those with a teaching or research background. Student membership and Affiliate schemes are also available.

The APC (Assessment of Professional Competence) is the gateway to becoming MRICS and is a combination of recorded experience, critical analysis and a final assessment interview. The interview can be a particularly daunting experience but is usually straightforward for those that are adequately prepared. There is a lot of APC information on the RICS website and several companies offer training and assistance with final assessment preparations. DeLever is one such company and their sites host a lot of free information in addition to further details of their full range of services.

CIOB...

The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) provides an internationally recognised qualification for construction professionals as well as providing advice, information, publications and events. Membership is open to those working in different disciplines within the industry and is available at various grades. Student membership is free for four years to those in full-time education while Associates need two years relevant experience and approved qualifications (such as HNC or NVQ level 3). Members and Incorporated members may have full exemption from academic requirements or a suitable qualification but need a minimum of three and two year's relevant experience respectively. A Fellow must have worked in the industry for at least five years and contributed in other ways.

RIBA...

Those working in architecture should aim to join the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), which sets educational standards and provides a range of services. It acts as a champion of good design and aims to influence government policy and legislation that affects the profession. Both Chartered Practice accreditation and individual membership are available, with the latter covering all stages of an architect's development. Student membership is available free to those on an accredited course, moving to Associate membership after completing the first two parts and then to Chartered membership when fully qualified. There's also a Retired category at the end of a career and Affiliate membership for those with an interest in architecture and the built environment.

CIArb...

At a more specialised level, the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb) is a charity with 12,000 members who have professional training in private dispute resolution. It provides education and training for arbitrators, mediators and adjudicators as well as supplying tools, support, advice and promotional opportunities. The Institute runs a calendar of Continuous Professional Development events and has three membership categories - Associate, Member and Fellow. Candidates need relevant experience or qualifications and will be assessed and expected to provide supporting evidence. Failing this, candidates can sit the Institute's courses and gain the required qualifications - Introductory for Associate, Advanced for Member and Diplomas for Fellow.

ICE...

For civil engineers, the Institution of Civil Engineers is an international membership organisation that offers specialist knowledge and resources. It aims to maintain high professional standards, provides comments to the media and offers opinions to government. Eight grades of membership are available, starting with free Student membership for those starting out. Graduate membership then becomes available while a Technician member is for technicians practising in the broad area of civil engineering. Associate membership is for those who work closely with civil engineers, the Member category is open to a wide range of engineers and Fellow is the highest grade for those in a responsible position. Affiliate and Companion categories are for those who work in a field related to civil engineering at different levels.

Other Training & Qualifications...

Besides these professional bodies, there are various other qualifications open to those working in the industry. City & Guilds has a wide range of courses, including CSCS cards. There's also the Construction Awards Alliance, which is an alliance between Construction Skills and City & Guilds, offering 75 nationally recognised qualifications. Construction Skills itself is the training board for the industry while the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board has a network of almost 200 course providers. With plenty of bodies out there, you should get exactly the qualification you need.

So what are you waiting for!


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