Should I Join A Contractor Trade Association?

As a contractor in California, you may be wondering if joining a California Contractor Trade Association is worth it. Trade associations take time and energy to invest into, but the rewards from joining them can be absolutely worth the effort.

This article will delve into the advantages and potential drawbacks of joining a California Contractor Trade Association, drawing on information from various industry associations found at the California Contractors State Licensing Board (CSLB) website.

What’s a Contractor Trade Association?

A trade association, or an industry association, is a collection of professionals who work in similar trades or industries. They exist for a number of reasons – to share information, to network, and to collectively push for mutually beneficial outcomes.

In our case, trade associations exist for individual trades within the construction industry, and there can be multiple for your region. For example, there’s two electrician’s trade associations in California, the Western Electrical Contractors Association as well as the National Electrician Contractors Association.

In a nutshell – joining a trade association in your area gives you access to more resources than before. Let’s dive into some more specifics.

Full List of CSLB-approved Trade Associations

The CSLB has a full list of approved contractors’ trade associations available on their website.

If you’re interested in joining an industry association, we recommend contacting them to find out more about their specific processes.


Benefits of Joining a California Contractor Trade Association

Here’s the upsides to joining a trade association in California.

Networking Opportunities

Trade associations in the industry are constantly hosting events, meetings, and conferences that provide excellent opportunities for contractors to network with their peers and industry professionals. 

These meetups can lead to valuable partnerships and potential business leads, especially if you’re a new contractor or you came from out of state. If you’re still a journeyman or an apprentice, working towards your educational requirements, joining a trade association can be an invaluable resource to find more work.


Educational Resources

In addition to network opportunities, you won’t find better educational resources related to succeeding in your niche than at your local trade association.

Trade associations offer educational resources such as workshops, seminars, and online courses to help contractors stay up-to-date with industry best practices and regulations. They can help you understand difficult legalspeak or decode confusing building codes.

Having someone you can trust to help you learn the crucial skills and information you need to succeed is critical as a contractor – and trade associations serve that purpose immensely.


Advocacy and Representation

Another massive thing – perhaps the most important thing – that trade associations do is they work on behalf of their members to advocate for policies and regulations that benefit the industry. 

Especially in California, having representation for your trade in Sacramento is extremely important, as the trade association has enough manpower and resources ot effectively shape policy.


Access to Industry News and Updates

Like other educational opportunities, your trade association will be a valuable source of trade-related, timely information, so you can always arm yourself with the latest knowledge relevant to your area of expertise.

Make sure you sign up for newsletters and updates on industry news, trends, and regulatory changes. 


Discounts on Products and Services

Of lesser importance but still nice, many trade associations have partnerships with companies in your industry to offer members exclusive discounts on products and services, such as insurance, legal assistance, and equipment rentals. 

In some cases, you may be able to save a lot of money – it’s all about who you know.


Considerations Before Joining a California Contractor Trade Association

“Sign me up!” you say, excitedly, seeing all the great benefits an industry association would have on your business. 

Not so fast. There’s always two sides to every coin and there are definitely some things to consider before joining your local construction trade association.


Membership Fees

Obviously, none of these amazing things come free – you gotta pay your dues.

Trade associations usually charge membership fees, which can vary depending on the size and scope of the organization. There are times where those fees can reach into the hundreds or thousands of dollars per month – so make sure you are at the point in your career where you need to join up!


Time Commitment

Participating in trade association events and taking advantage of their resources may require a significant time investment. Maybe you’re super busy with loads of projects at the moment – maybe it’s not the best time to join a trade association then.


Is It Worth It To Join A Trade Association As A Contractor?

In the end though, the benefits of a trade association are usually worth the time investment. You gain access not only to mountains of valuable, trade-specific knowledge, but more importantly, your trade association will allow you to find more business in your community.

If you can afford it, it’s almost always worth the cost to join up with your fellow tradespeople to make sure you’ve all got each other’s backs.