Whether you're an African American accountant, attorney or astrophysicist, there's probably a related professional organization. Joining an association can provide education in your field, networking opportunities and advocacy -- all with a focus on issues important to African Americans. Find the right one for you by checking out this list of 21 of the largest and oldest national groups:
- BDPA: Organized in 1975. More than 40 chapters. Open to African Americans in data processing and related fields.
- National Association of Black Accountants: Founded in 1969. Goal is to represent the than 200,000 African American professionals in accounting and finance.
- National Association of African Americans in Human Resources: A national organization of human resource professionals with 36 local chapters; includes consultants and students.
- National Black Business Trade Association: A self-help resource and networking group founded in 1993 that provides businesspeople with information, products, services and technologies.
- National Black MBA Association: A 8,000-member professional organization made up of African American graduates with MBAs and advanced degrees. Established in 1970, its mission is to increase the number and diversity of African Americans in business.
- National Sales Network: An association of African American sales and sales management professionals. Organized in 1992, with more than 2,000 members in 16 chapters.
- Organization of Black Designers: Comprised of 10,000 design professionals in visual communications, as well as graphic, interior, fashion and industrial design.
Engineering and Science
- American Association of Blacks in Energy: Founded in 1977; 36 chapters. Specialties include energy policy, technology and the environment.
- National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers: Organized in 1972 to build a community of minority scientists and engineers; 39 professional and university chapters.
- National Society of Black Engineers: Started in 1975, it now has more than 35,700 members, more than 390 college, precollege and technical professional chapters nationwide and overseas. The group's mission is to increase the number of African American engineers, as well as help them succeed professionally and to give back to their communities.
- National Society of Black Physicists: The largest organization of African American physicists; 16 sections ranging from astronomy, astrophysics and nuclear physics to technology transfer, business development and entrepreneurship. Its mission is to promote the professional well-being of African American physicists within the international scientific community.
- BCA: Incorporated as the Black Culinarian Alliance in 1998 and now known by its acronym. A national educational and networking organization that serves African American and other minority professionals working in hospitality and food services.
- 100 Black Men of America: Founded in 1963; now 110-plus chapters with more than 10,000 members. Its mission includes leadership, mentoring, education, health and economic development.
- Blacks in Government: Members are civil servants at the federal, state, county and municipal levels. Founded in 1975; more than 50 chapters include the Departments of State and Homeland Security, the Coast Guard, and the National Institutes of Health.
- National Black Nurses Association: Organized in 1971; 80 chapters represent more than 150,000 African American nurses in the US, Caribbean and Africa.
- National Medical Association: The oldest (founded 1895) and largest national professional organization for African American physicians. A leading force for parity in medicine, it provides educational programs and conducts outreach efforts.
- Student National Medical Association: The largest organization focused on the needs and concerns of African American medical students and residents.
Law and Criminal Justice
- National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice: Organized in 1974; state and local chapters across the US. Members include law enforcement personnel, corrections officers, court employees, social services workers, academics and clergy.
- National Bar Association: An advocate for social justice since 1925; promotes professional development for African Americans in the legal profession. More than 20,000 member lawyers, judges, educators and law students.
- National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives: Founded in 1976. Public service organization serves as the "conscience of law enforcement."
- National Association of Black Journalists: A professional organization for African Americans working in print, radio, television, new media and related areas; founded in 1975.