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What does it mean to be a professional?
Old 11-28-2021, 12:22 PM   #1
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What does it mean to be a professional?

I saw this term used in a thread today and it reminded me that I had always wondered what it meant to be a "professional".

Does it mean you have to be a doctor or lawyer?

I worked in the computer business in various roles, include g high-priced contract programmer and later I had the title of "director" at a company that at times was traded on the stock exchange. Does that pass the cut?
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Old 11-28-2021, 12:27 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by joesxm3 View Post
I saw this term used in a thread today and it reminded me that I had always wondered what it meant to be a "professional".

Does it mean you have to be a doctor or lawyer?

I worked in the computer business in various roles, include g high-priced contract programmer and later I had the title of "director" at a company that at times was traded on the stock exchange. Does that pass the cut?
Umm yes....
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Old 11-28-2021, 12:33 PM   #3
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Besides doctors and lawyers, I can tell you what it means in Nevada to a lot of people.

No matter what your profession is, being a professional doesn't mean you know what you are doing or that you are any good at it... In my case I spent over 40 years in the same "field/profession" and I even earned a couple of industry related top professional certifications. I had a bunch of letters behind my name and my fancy title but I never felt I was anything special in my chosen field...
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Old 11-28-2021, 12:41 PM   #4
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I would say that a "profession" typically has specialized knowledge, typically reflected in specific education and training requirements, including some sort of governmental licensure barrier to entry, which serves to limit the numbers in that profession. There are also usually professional organizations (membership in which is often mandatory) that set and uphold standards of conduct in the profession, violation of which can lead to removal from the profession. Many, if not most, professions have a distinct vocabulary related to their particular area of expertise that is not readily understandable to outsiders. Also, many professionals tend to internalize their profession as part of their identity. Finally, I think that for many professions there is an expectation, by both those in the profession and those outside, that the members of the profession have some enhanced responsibility to the common weal/public good.

I don't see this list as either exhaustive or exclusive, but these are the characteristics that I observe most professions to have in common.
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Old 11-28-2021, 05:42 PM   #5
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To me a professional is someone who makes a career of their occupation, continues to keep up with or assist in advancing new technologies or other developments in their field, and assists in training others entering the profession.
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Old 11-28-2021, 06:02 PM   #6
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At the most basic level, it means it is your profession and not just a random job. I wouldn't say I'm a professional burger flipper if I worked at McDonald's but I might say I'm a food service professional if I owned the McDonald's.


Certainly what you described would make you a professional in your field.
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Old 11-28-2021, 08:03 PM   #7
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What Gumby said.
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Old 11-28-2021, 08:07 PM   #8
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To me a professional is someone who makes a career of their occupation, continues to keep up with or assist in advancing new technologies or other developments in their field, and assists in training others entering the profession.
Right, like the world's oldest profession.
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Old 11-28-2021, 08:15 PM   #9
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Being a professional means keeping a stiff upper lip and not going off on the idiot who asks you to do some thing that is not your job, or worse unethical.


Also, I second what Gumby said.
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Old 11-28-2021, 10:23 PM   #10
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In engineering it means that you have a PE license after passing the FE and PE exams. I've worked over three decades in engineering without this, and I don't aim to retire into a role providing engineering services to the public or expert witness testimony, so becoming a Professional is not on my bucket list.
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Old 11-28-2021, 10:39 PM   #11
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I was a professional blue collar worker.
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Old 11-28-2021, 10:41 PM   #12
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Being a professional means keeping a stiff upper lip and not going off on the idiot who asks you to do some thing that is not your job

That sounds more like being a union member.
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Old 11-29-2021, 07:41 AM   #13
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I don't see where it really matters except when applying for a job. Then they will make the decision for you.


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Old 11-29-2021, 07:54 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Katsmeow View Post
What Gumby said.
+1 like lawyers, doctors, accountants, architects, engineers, etc. and they are typically licensed by the government or accredited by a professional organization.

from Wikipedia:

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A Profession is a disciplined group of individuals who adhere to ethical standards and who hold themselves out as, and are accepted by the public as possessing special knowledge and skills in a widely recognised body of learning derived from research, education and training at a high level, and who are prepared to apply this knowledge and exercise these skills in the interest of others.

A profession is also an occupation founded upon specialized educational training, the purpose of which is to supply disinterested objective counsel and service to others, for a direct and definite compensation, wholly apart from expectation of other business gain. Medieval and early modern tradition recognized only three professions: divinity, medicine, and law, which were called the learned professions. A profession is not a trade and not an industry.

The term profession is a truncation of the term liberal profession, which is, in turn, an Anglicization of the French term profession libérale. Originally borrowed by English users in the 19th century, it has been re-borrowed by international users from the late 20th, though the (upper-middle) class overtones of the term do not seem to survive re-translation: "liberal professions" are, according to the European Union's Directive on Recognition of Professional Qualifications (2005/36/EC), "those practised on the basis of relevant professional qualifications in a personal, responsible and professionally independent capacity by those providing intellectual and conceptual services in the interest of the client and the public".

Some professions change slightly in status and power, but their prestige generally remains stable over time, even if the profession begins to have more required study and formal education. Disciplines formalized more recently, such as architecture, now have equally long periods of study associated with them.

Although professions may enjoy relatively high status and public prestige, not all professionals earn high salaries, and even within specific professions there exist significant differences in salary. In law, for example, a corporate defense lawyer working on an hourly basis may earn several times what a prosecutor or public defender earns.
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Old 11-29-2021, 08:07 AM   #15
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Like most things, "it depends".

How you use the term depends upon context. It can simply mean being paid, as in "amateur" vs "professional".

First google hit on "amateur":

Quote:
am·a·teur

noun: amateur; plural noun: amateurs

1. a person who engages in a pursuit, especially a sport, on an unpaid rather than a professional basis.


adjective
adjective: amateur

1. engaging or engaged in without payment; nonprofessional.
"amateur athletics"
And as was just mentioned by dunkelblau, in engineering circles "Professional Engineer" has a very specific meaning, you earned/maintained your license, passed the exams, can testify in court, etc. To refer to yourself as a "Professional Engineer"
w/o those specific credentials would be fraudulent.

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Old 11-29-2021, 09:10 AM   #16
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I would guess in general as there are exceptions to everything, practicing what one was highly educated for. For Example and Engineering Degree, Medical, Law, Business, etc. I do not think a plumber, electrician, grave digger, welder, or most Blue collar workers would be considered Professionals. But honestly it is a good question, as I think we assume, Doctors, Lawyers and Indian Chiefs qualify for the handle.
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Old 11-29-2021, 09:17 AM   #17
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I think the noun, as in the original question about "a professional" is pretty clear, as described in the quote from wikipedia above.

The ambiguity comes from the use as an adjective to describe some activity or person's actions in a general sense.
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Old 11-29-2021, 11:13 AM   #18
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That sounds more like being a union member.

Ha, ha, yes but the union guy's got a contract. I think that's supposed to mean something. Dagwood Bumstead and Darrin Stevens have to jump directly for Mr Dithers and Larry Tate, ostensibly for the big bucks
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Old 11-29-2021, 12:39 PM   #19
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What I was thinking of when I asked the question was sparked by comments like "want to live in a gated community with other professionals" or "seeking male professional for sex and long walks on the beach."

Sounds like snobbery to me. Like people who insist on being called doctor in social settings.
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Old 11-29-2021, 02:53 PM   #20
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I saw this term used in a thread today and it reminded me that I had always wondered what it meant to be a "professional".



Does it mean you have to be a doctor or lawyer?



I worked in the computer business in various roles, include g high-priced contract programmer and later I had the title of "director" at a company that at times was traded on the stock exchange. Does that pass the cut?


Charging a fixed and agreed upon fee for a service or product. I would consider a physician who charges $5000 to do a procedure a professional…she cuts you open and spending on what she finds, it may take her 2 hours or 10 hours to address the issue. But regardless, they charge the same fee…$5000. I would NOT consider a CFP who charges a fee based on AUM or an attorney who charges by the hour not to be professionals. It does not mean they don’t do important and/or meaningful work, but their fee is not fixed.
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