Many people believe that they’re finished learning once they’ve completed school and gotten their first professional job.
But you never really finish training––there’s always something new to learn that can help you get better at what you do.
That’s one of the main reasons why industry associations exist. If you haven’t heard that term before, don’t worry. We’ve put together this article to both explain to you what it means and to highlight the top 10 industry associations in America.
So without further adieu, let’s get into it.
What is an industry association?
Industry associations go by several names. You might also see them described as trade associations, trade groups, or business associations.
But regardless of the name, industry associations are non-profit organizations that are made up of the group of businesses that fund them.
For example, an HVAC industry association would likely be made up of HVAC companies who each pay a percentage of the money that it takes to run the organization.
WHY INDUSTRY ASSOCIATIONS EXIST
Companies come together to create industry associations for a few reasons. One is to establish non-profit organizations that advocate for the industry as a whole.
For example, a group of steel manufacturers may be concerned about upcoming legislation regarding the production and usage of steel. They could create an industry association to advocate against that legislation.
Industry associations also exist to help train companies and workers. For example, an association might come out with training materials to help workers with new technologies. Or they could set standards that companies need to follow to keep up with the rest of the industry.
The bottom line is that industry associations are created to help advance the status of an industry in the United States. They do that in several different ways.
The top 10 industrial associations in America
There are lots of great industrial associations in America. But here are the top 10 for the industrial sector.
American Welding Society (AWS)
The American Welding Society is the nation’s premier association for professional welders. It was founded in 1919 to advance the art of welding in the workforce.
Nowadays, AWS offers memberships, certification programs, and other training opportunities for welders who would like to improve their crafts.
National Association of Manufacturers (NAM)
The National Association of Manufacturers is an organization that’s dedicated to promoting excellence in the field of manufacturing. It represents about 14,000 companies across the country.
NAM focuses on advocacy for workers as well. The organization does what it can to protect manufacturing jobs and create a future-proof workforce for the upcoming age of automation.
Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC)
IEC is an industry association that may be relevant to your professional goals if you’re an electrician. It’s focused on helping the next generation of independent electricians develop the skills that they will need to serve their future clients.
You can pursue an apprenticeship through IEC if you’re an aspiring electrician. Or you can apply for membership if you’re already an established one.
Either way, IEC will help you get as much out of your career in this industry as possible.
American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)
ASHRAE could be a great organization for you to join if you’re an HVAC technician. It’s an organization that’s focused on the advancement of technology and worker skill in the HVAC industry.
ASHRAE was created in 1959 and is currently focused on preparing the HVAC industry for the changes it will go through in the coming years to become a greener workforce. If that’s something you’re passionate about as well, then this could be the organization for you.
Automotive Service Association (ASA)
The Automotive Service Association has roots tracing back to 1951. Since then, it has focused on advancing professionalism, ethics, and excellence in the field of automotive repair and maintenance.
They do that by setting standards for good business practices and quality education in the automotive industry.
If you’ve gone through a training program to become an auto mechanic, then there’s a good chance that it was designed to conform to the standards created by the Automotive Service Association.
Association for Manufacturing Excellence (AME)
Like the National Association of Manufacturers, AME is another organization that’s dedicated to excellence in the field of manufacturing. It has more than 4,000 members spread out across all levels of the manufacturing workforce.
The organization focuses especially on helping leaders in this industry drive their companies forward through the pursuit of superior manufacturing processes and technologies.
Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA)
The Mechanical Contractors Association of America represents about 2,600 companies in the HVAC and construction industries.
The MCAA’s main purpose is to create and distribute training materials. Companies can use these materials to make sure that they’re using the best processes and training their workers to use the best practices.
With the help of the MCAA, companies in these industries can become more efficient and deliver better results for both shareholders and customers.
American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI)
The American Iron and Steel Institute is involved in promoting the safe and effective use of steel in construction projects. It both advocates for steel-based industries and creates products to help companies in this space be more effective.
In recent years, the AISI has begun making environmental friendliness a priority. It now is laying the foundation for a cleaner future for steel.
National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC)
NAWIC is an organization that came into being to address the under-representation of women in the construction industry.
It has 115 chapters throughout the United States, which help women who are interested in construction gain a foothold in the industry.
If you’re a woman who is interested in a career in construction, joining the NAWIC could help you both get started with one and make more efficient progress towards your long-term professional goals.
Is joining an industry association a good move?
If you’re a worker, you may think about joining an industry association that has offerings for individual employees. Doing so could be a smart move for your career. Here are a few reasons why.
GET HELP WITH TRAINING
One of the main ways that industry associations help workers is by giving them training programs to complete. These programs are typically designed to mirror the specific type of skills that companies want their employees to have.
That means if you earn a certification or complete an apprenticeship through a trade organization, companies in that industry will know that your knowledge is legitimate. This could make it easier for you to find a job or get a promotion.
FORM A NETWORK
Joining an industry association can also be good for your professional network. When you join one of these, you’ll get to spend a lot of time interacting with other professionals in your industry. These are opportunities to form connections that could serve you well in the future.
PREPARE FOR THE FUTURE
Speaking of the future, joining an industry association is also a great way to prepare for it. These non-profit organizations are typically very focused on what the future of an industry is going to look like and then preparing for it.
So if you’re an active member of an industry association, you could be better situated to excel in your sector as the future changes it.
Are there any downsides to joining an industry association?
Now that we’ve covered why it could make sense for you to join an industry association, you may be wondering if there are any downsides.
There really aren’t too many. The only major one is that you may have to pay dues or an annual membership fee if you want to be an active part of an industry association.
That’s certainly not always the case. Sometimes it’s possible to join one of these without having to pay a dime. But chances are, if you want to take advantage of things like meetups, certification programs, and webinars, it’ll end up costing you.
Just keep in mind, paying that money could be worth it given the many ways that being part of an industry group can benefit your career.
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