APA's emerging professional members are students, recent graduates, and individuals in the early stages of their professional careers. APA offers them connections, career assistance, continuing education, and a path to certification.

Early Career Program

This five-year package of benefits and services begins during college or graduate school and carries on through first years on the job. The program connects emerging professional members to APA's 40,000-strong community with access to mentors, social and professional networks, specialized programming, key publications, and much more. Participants get all the benefits of APA membership, plus much more, at a price that equals the cost of a few textbooks. In fact, for many members the program's first year is free!

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APA is all about helping members connect throughout their careers. In school, APA-affiliated Planning Student Organizations are gateways to activities, honors, and leadership. Chapters offer Young Planners Groups, local mentors, and engagement with new and veteran planners who are building great communities close to home. At APA's annual National Planning Conference, emerging professionals get expert career guidance and learn alongside members from all over the United States in sessions, workshops, and institutes that offer the very best in professional planning education.

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Certification by the American Institute of Certified Planners is the only nationwide, independent verification of planners' qualifications. For many new planners, it's an important professional and personal goal. Why? Certified planners commit to continuing education, professional development, and ethical performance. Certification can open many doors during a planning career and certified planners tend to earn higher salaries. Joining APA is the first step on the path toward certification by AICP.

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