Profession And Professionalism: Meaning, Characteristics, Qualities And Differences

Table Of Contents

  • Meaning Profession And Professionalism
  • Characteristics Of A Profession
  • Qualities Of A Professional
  • Distinction Between Profession And Professionalism

All over the world, people engage in one kind of regular activities or trade or the other on daily basis. The trade one engages in life occupies most of one’s time to the extent that one rarely finds time for other activities or engagements outside trade.

The individual is, most of time, engulfed and or captivated and even enslaved by the trade that he could not find time for the worship of his creator. In his place of trade, he is always so committed in making the trade successful. At home, he thinks more about ways and means of furthering the cause of the trade that most a time, he keeps sleepless nights and also restless hours in his place of work.
People spend time, money and effort to learn a trade as a means of livelihood. Some go to school. Others take to apprenticeship in order to imbibe the intricacies or techniques of the trade and become skilled, vast and experts in that field of life.
To boost their ego and in order to protect the trade, and also attract respect from all and sundry, people who engage in similar trades, form associations for the common interest of their members and guided by rules and regulations. Such associations are known as professional associations.

That is, the umbrella body embracing people in the same profession who make ardent effort to exhibit professionalism in that specialized area of human activity.
Two terminologies, profession and professionalism are worthy of our explanation in this section of article for a clearer understanding of the topic of discourse.

Meaning Of Profession And Professionalism

The term profession has been defined by various authors in various walks of life. Hoyle and Megary (1980) in Nwamuo and Ajoku (2007), defined profession as, “an occupation, which is founded on specialized training and intellectual study.”
According to Rundell (2007), the word profession means, “a job that needs special skills and qualifications to do, especially one with high social status. Such professions include legal, nursing, and teaching professions.”
Awotua Efabo (1999) cited the Webster’s Dictionary as describing profession as;
“a calling requiring specialized knowledge and often long and intensive preparation, including instruction in skills and methods, as well as the scientific, historical, or scholarly principles underlining such skills and methods, maintained by force of organization or concerted opinion, high standards of achievement and conduct, and committing its members to continued study and to a kind of work which has for its prime purpose the rendering of a public service.”
The three definitions above have certain features which a profession must possess. These will be outlined as you continue reading this article.
The term professionalism has been defined as the high standard that you expect from a person who is well trained in a particular job; great skill and ability (Hornby,2007).
The chambers English Dictionary has it that “professionalism is, “that competence or the correct demeanour, of those who are highly trained and disciplined.” Rundell (2007) refers to professionalism as, “the qualities and skills that someone with a professional job is expected to have”.

Characteristics Of A Profession

Before a field of study or an occupation should be qualified or regarded as a profession, there are certain characteristics or essential elements such a work of life must possess. On the other hand, what does it take for an occupation to be qualified as a profession?
The following characteristics qualify a field of study to be called a profession:
1. A code of ethics, that is, a series of standards and a statement of conducts which is enforced.
2. A long period of specialized training and certification.
3. The ability to exercise its own leadership that is, a comprehensive self-governing organization of practitioners.
4. An emphasis upon intellectual techniques in performing its service.
5. An application of such techniques to practical affairs.
6. An acceptance by the practitioners of broad personality responsibility for judgements and acts performed within the scope of professional autonomy.
7. An association of members of the profession into a closely knit group with a high quality of communication among members.
8. An established relationship with other professions.
9. Acknowledgement as a profession by the public.
10. An organized body of specialized knowledge constantly expanding by research.
11. An emphasis upon the service to be rendered, rather than upon the economical gain to the practitioners, as the basis for the organization and performance of the social service delegated to the occupational group.
12. A unique, definite and essential social service.
The above points serve as criteria or yardsticks for measuring whether any association qualifies to be called a professional organization.

Qualities Of A Professional

Professionalism, on the other hand, dwells on the qualities of professionals or practitioners in a given field of study. Simply put, professionalism is all about the competences, abilities and qualities which, for instance, a professional office manager must acquire to enable him carry out his day to day office functions.
1. He must acquire relevant education, trainign and experience in his chosen field of study. For example, an Office Technology and Management graduate who takes up appointment as an office manager must obtained his WASC, GCE or other relevant qualifying certificates, National Diploma and High National Diploma and other related competences and gain some practical experience.
2. He should be able to delegate work to create time for other functions. To delegate means to distribute the work-load of the manager to enable the organization to expand.
3. He should have ability to organize the office very well so as to achieve the objectives and goals of the establishment.
4. He should possess such leadership qualities as the ability to motivate, guide, and resolve office conflict, etc., among the subordinates.
5. A good office manager should possess such personal qualities as sincerity, honesty, humility, adaptability, etc. These go a long way to achieve organizational effectiveness.
Distinction Between Profession And Professionalism
The differences between the term profession and professionalism are shown below:
1. In Profession; Is an occupation, which is found on specialized training and intellectual study. While In Professionalism; Is the high standard, qualities and skills expected from someone with a professional job.
2. A profession refers to the job of the professional. While Professionalism refers to the competences, abilities and qualities of the practitioners.
3. A Profession involves a body of knowledge studied by the professional. While Professionalism entails how the professional uses the knowledge acquired.
4. A profession promotoes professionalism. While Professionalism is a product of profession.
5. Profession involves specialized training. While Professionalism involves the exhibition of expertise resulting from specialized training.