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What is the difference between a professional regulatory organization and a professional association?

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In some occupations, the professional association and the professional regulatory organization are 2 separate bodies. In other occupations, the professional association is the professional regulatory organization. The organizations for physicians and architects in Alberta are good examples of these different situations. The Alberta Medical Association, a professional association of physicians, is a separate body from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta, the professional regulatory organization for physicians. The situation is different for architects: the Alberta Association of Architects is both the professional association and the professional regulatory organization in Alberta.

Professional associations represent the interests of their membership. Professional regulatory organizations have been delegated the authority to govern their profession by the provincial government and work within a regulatory framework established by government. Professional regulatory organizations have the authority to:

  • set entry requirements and standards of practice
  • assess applicants' qualifications and credentials
  • certify, register or license qualified applicants
  • discipline members.

Professional associations and professional regulatory organizations do not act as employment agencies in Alberta. Some publish information about job opportunities in member newsletters or on their websites but they do not guarantee members employment or actively assist members in finding employment. Finding employment is the individual's responsibility. For more information, see How do I obtain work in Alberta?




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