Association management is a distinct field of management because of the unique environment of associations. Associations are unique in that the "owners" are dues-paying members. Members also govern their association through an elected board or other governing body, along with association committees, commissions, task forces, councils and other units. Typically, the board selects, retains and evaluates a chief executive officer or an executive director who is responsible for the day-to-day management of the association and paid staff.
Managers within the association environment are responsible for many of the same tasks that are found in other organizational contexts. These include human resource management, financial management, meeting management, IT management, and project management. Other aspects of management are unique for association managers. These include: membership recruitment and retention; tax-exempt accounting and financial management; development of non-dues revenue and fundraising. Association managers must also be familiar with laws and regulations that pertain only to associations. To attain the knowledge needed to effectively operate in association management, its practitioners may choose to pursue the Certified Association Executive designation.