What is a profession?

Professions Australia defines a profession as:

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. It is inherent in the definition of a profession that a code of ethics governs the activities of each profession. Such codes require behaviour and practice beyond the personal moral obligations of an individual. They define and demand high standards of behaviour in respect to the services provided to the public and in dealing with professional colleagues. Further, these codes are enforced by the profession and are acknowledged and accepted by the community.

The Professional Standards Councils offers insights into the various ways of defining professions and professionals http://www.psc.gov.au/what-is-a-profession.

View this great animation on the benefits of the professions to the community and the economy (Credit: Professional Standards Councils).

Why professionalism is still relevant

At the invitation of the then President of Professions Australia, Don Larkin, Dr George Beaton, Partner in Beaton Capital and Associate Professor at the University of Melbourne wrote this essay on Why Professionalism is Still Relevant in 2010. 

This essay maintains that 'ethical considerations and obligations lead to and maintain trust on the parts of those served and are the essence of professionalism. There is no definition of professionalism—even a rough outline of professionalism’s characteristics—that does not include a central component of ethics and altruism.'

Dr Beaton contends that 'as long as professionals and professions hold on to this essence of professionalism—even, and especially, in an age of globalisation—they will survive and flourish, and professionalism will fulfil its role in serving humanity.'