NACE International, formerly the National Association of Corrosion Engineers, was established by a group of engineers for the petroleum industry. NACE is headquartered in Houston.
SSPC, the Society of Protective Coatings (formerly the Steel Structures Painting Council), headquartered in Pittsburgh, formed after NACE and focused on structural steel.
NACE was pipeline engineers and SSPC was bridge tradesmen. Even today, you get a different ‘vibe’ at a NACE Conference vs an SSPC Conference. But truly, the lines have blurred. Many of the standards we use are now Joint NACE – SSPC standards (e.g., NACE No. 1 / SSPC SP 5 White Metal Blast). Indeed, the two organizations almost combined some years ago, but the deal collapsed at the last minute.
From a trades perspective, SSPC has better training programs for applicator knowledge and hands-on skills, while NACE has marketed their Coating Inspector Program extraordinarily well. But even there, SSPC has a good inspector program, and NACE is considering its own version of CAS.
In North America, a good industrial tradesmen must be familiar with both organizations.