With the all the benefits, it's hard to see a downside. However, unless you are devoted to your industry, joining a software testing association may be overwhelming. Casual software testers receive little benefit from a membership. Memberships are best for industry professionals, such as those creating software testing methods, researching how to better software testing and professional software testers and groups. If you plan to test software professionally, a membership can jump start your career by providing you with the proper education tools and advice.
Membership comes at a price. To join for free, you receive very little benefits. Typically, you only receive a membership newsletter, community newsletters and occasional invitations to special events (most discounts do not apply). Depending on the association you choose to join, membership can start at $50 to $100 per year. You often have the option of joining for life, which in the case of the Association for Software Testing is 20 years, for a flat rate. Some associations offer discounts for age, such as AST's lifetime membership, which is $1275 for members under 30, but $425 for members over 60.
Even though you pay a membership fee, all benefits aren't free. You must still pay for travel to conferences in addition to a registration fee. You must also pay for hotel and other expenses occurred. In order to make the most of joining a software testing association, you will find yourself paying for training, such as classes and webinars. To fully network, you must also pay to go to conferences and meet-ups, which may or may not be local. Unless you are willing to devote time and money to the association and your own training, a software testing association is not for you.