Posted By: vika professional - 01/12/03 02:44 PM
as some of you may know I am a biologist and I work as a Research Fellow. I always have difficulties filling questionnaires where I asked to define my occupation. AFAIK "a professional" means a doctor, a lawyer or a teacher. I am a doctor but not medical doctor. My qualifications include "teacher of biology and chemistry" but I do not teach I work in a laboratory.
Am I a professional ?

Posted By: wwh Re: professional - 01/12/03 03:40 PM
Dear Vika: You are very much a professional. You have diplomas to prove you are not just
an amateur or dilettante. Some people use "professional" to mean that they earn a living
from some skill, as an athlete who gets paid for performing.

Posted By: milum Re: professional - 01/12/03 04:22 PM
Dear Vika: You are very much not a Professional. Not with a Capital T you're not. If you call yourself a Professional what would Doctors, Lawyers, and Educators call themselves? You and wwh are not pompous, therefore you and wwh are not Professionals and no amount of calling you such will make you so. Sorry.

Posted By: wwh Re: professional - 01/12/03 04:51 PM
Dear milum: There are undoubtedly pompous professionals. I have known many really
down to earth professional athletes. Your compliment to Vika is too left handed.

Posted By: milum Re: professional - 01/12/03 05:41 PM
Dear wwh:

My "compliment" to you and Vika resents being called Left-handed.

The word "professional" is a useful term that functions well when describing the expertise, the experience, or the dedication of knowledgeable individuals, but when used self-discriptively by a group that has simply been trained, i.e., doctors, lawyers, etc., it mostly serves to strive for an air of class distinction that is unearned.

But heck, I quibble. I concede the point.

Posted By: musick Pointy - 01/12/03 05:54 PM
I worked as a professional musician for... a few years. The term fits as I made, although quite meager, a *living doing it.

Quibbling? Sounds more like waffling!

Posted By: wofahulicodoc Professor Vika - 01/12/03 06:11 PM
Vika -

The issue has been hinted at in these threads before, though not in precisely the example you give.

I would start you with Justice Louis Brandies' definition of a profession:
"The characteristics of a profession are that it seeks to
--preserve a body of knowledge
--expand the body of knowledge
--teach the body of knowledge
--set standards of practice and enforce them
--value performance over reward"

and now you can decide the issue for yourself, with some authority to support you.

Teaching does not have to mean standing up in front of a class of students; as a physician I don't do that either. But I do try to teach my contemporaries if I have knowledge they may not.

There may be some other relevant (and irrelevant) thoughts on the subject at
http://wordsmith.org/board/showthreaded.pl?Cat=&Board=words&Number=89463 and the rest of the thread.

Posted By: wwh Re: Professor Vika - 01/12/03 06:54 PM
Dear wofahulicodoc: A Daniel come to judgment! Your quote is most pertinent. I also like:
this quote
For centuries, educators have cited Chaucer’s description of his scholar as the ultimate
motto of our profession: “Gladly would he learn and gladly teach."

Posted By: musick Rewarding - 01/12/03 07:03 PM
It is clear that doing a good job is inherently rewarding, but that isn't the issue. "Value performance over reward" is highly questionable as contingent, even as monitary reward is limited. Artistic rewards can be very personal even if many of them come from performance. The definition of "rewards" just ain't the same for the same reasons. I'll suggest that a majority of life wouldn't be doing whatever it is that they do without the *personal rewards.

Is this a "chicken and the egg" question... are we unneccessarily forcing our own capacity to ask a question where the answer is "self-evident"?

Posted By: modestgoddess Re: Rewarding - 01/13/03 01:53 AM
This question arises in the world o' sport, does it not? (think that's been hinted at here) - After all, there are professional athletes and amateur athletes. Methinks the line has been blurred by the fact that so many "amateur" athletes receive monetary recompense of one sort or another (grants, scholarships, sponsorships) for their training....

I was musing on this with regard to artists' models. Some of us are "professionals" - we are paid to do the work and we do it well - and we won't work unless we are paid. Some are clearly "amateurs" in that they offer to work "for prints" or "for experience." REAL models (us professionals!) avoid such types like the plague. I made the mistake of working with one once and he was quite plainly only working the gig for titillation. (And he was a lousy model.)

For me, the term "professional" includes, among its many implications, a high degree of respect for the work being done and a knowledge of that work's worth. Applying these criteria to modelling, then, I would say that even some models who are paid to do the work, are NOT professional about it. "Professional" also incorporates a degree of dignity, does it not? - not stuffiness, but dignity....

Posted By: Jackie Um-- - 01/13/03 11:31 AM
Two things occurred to me as I read through the above posts.
First--why are WE, the respondents, gnashing our teeth? It would be a more appropriate resolution of the problem if the designers would simply change the questionnaire.

Secondly: look what happens to the meaning of milum's sentence, "My "compliment" to you and Vika resents being called Left-handed.", when I add just one letter.
My "compliments" to you and Vika resents being called Left-handed. (This is actually how I read it at first.)

Posted By: Faldage Re: professional - 01/13/03 11:49 AM
Am I a professional?

Good use of the indefinite article, BTW.

Posted By: wow Re: professional - 01/13/03 04:26 PM
You get paid? You are a professional.
And- just a thought - does the word "profess" come into play here? Profess as in "lay claim to -- " in your case knowledge in a specific area ?

Posted By: vika Re: Rewarding - 01/13/03 06:04 PM
I didn't expect that my question insignificant would cause such intensive discussion. sorry about that

Posted By: tsuwm Re: Rewarding - 01/13/03 06:16 PM
re: insignificant vs. intensive

not to belabor the point, but when has *any question here not been so discussed?

>You get paid? You are a professional.

and, not to miss the point, most laborers are paid, therefore...?

Posted By: Faldage Re: Rewarding - 01/13/03 06:22 PM
my question insignificant would cause such intensive discussio

Sorry? Sorry!? As well be sorry for giving a child his favourite toy!

Posted By: maahey Re: professional - 01/13/03 07:06 PM
warning: very tired and therefore, might be rambling

Professional: Any one who practises an occupation, whatever that might be.
However, the training that one undergoes prior to practise might not necessarily be classified as such. Professional degree programs impart a certain specific skill to their students. Such programs are geared at adding to the task force of a certain trade. Graduates of such programs practise just that specific skill and are largely specialised and restricted to their particular training, viz., teachers, doctors, engineers, lawyers, architects. In these cases, the term 'professional' thus becomes doubly imbued with its connotation. In a sense, since these people receive skilled training in a particular trade, they could also be referred to as traders.
When training imparted is more varied and less restricted in its scope, the opportunities for practise are equally so. And therefore, whilst each one of such graduates becomes a professional in whatever he or she chooses to practise, their training or degree might not be commonly categorised thus.
I don't know that I am right; this seems like a likely explanation for the confusion, if any.

Posted By: musick Warding - 01/13/03 07:11 PM
Professional labourers? Why not? It's certainly possible. The *good Judges' criteria which creates the most margin (from what I exhume) is "set standards of practice and enforce them".

Why would one perform something they aren't good at?[eg] It tends to make 'professional' more of an attitude (or lack of) than anything... not that anyone could be fooled by a 'pretender'.

So is it the money + diplomas + 'tude and/or any combination of one or two of the above? This seems to defy all mathematical proofs available toward a logical definition, and the members of this board (as professional wordsmiths)can't stand for that!

Posted By: modestgoddess Re/Wording - 01/13/03 07:14 PM
can't stand for that!

You mean we'd take it lying down?!

Posted By: AnnaStrophic Re: favourite, labourers - 01/13/03 07:22 PM
Yo, Faldage and musick! Sup with the Brit spellings?

Posted By: musick Oh, you... - 01/13/03 07:28 PM
Just being sensitive to others' kneads!

Posted By: Faldage Re: favourite, labourers - 01/13/03 07:29 PM
Brit spelling

Eewww! I done that? Eewww!

Posted By: Alex Williams Re: favourite, labourers - 01/13/03 09:37 PM
my two cents:

Professional can be an adjective, as in a professional actor, a professional tennis player, or a professional writer. In these instances the word differentiates between the hobbyist and the person who earns a living from the activity. One interesting case is professional soldier, which implies a level of training and career intention beyond a typical draftee or enlistee, even though they too are paid for their work.

As a noun the word gets used pretty loosely. For example, in personal ads you'll often see something like "professional white female seeks professional, non-smoking white male, age 45 to 60...." One gets the impression that they mean "upper middle class," and bakers, carpenters, steam-pipe fitters, welders, stevedores and other tradesmen need not apply.

Posted By: musick Labour flavor - 01/13/03 10:00 PM
Does this make the *manager of a steel pipe manufacturing facility who sets the standards of labour practices and enforces thier manifestation a professional, yet the *performer isn't? Or is it as a result of thier choice of materials with which to werk that relegates them both to 'trades'?

Posted By: Bingley Re: professional - 01/14/03 03:21 AM
In reply to:

And- just a thought - does the word "profess" come into play here? Profess as in "lay claim to -- " in your case knowledge in a specific area ?

I remember getting quite confused reading Pilgrim's Progress until I realised Bunyan was using professor to mean something like hypocrite -- someone who professes something but doesn't really believe it.


Posted By: Alex Williams Re: Labour flavor - 01/14/03 11:17 AM
Musick: I'm not sure. Are asking a prescriptive question or a descriptive question? My answers are from a descriptive point of view.

If you had asked me when I was working full time as a baker if I considered myself to be in the professional class, or if I was "a professional," I would have said no. For one thing, I just can't see "a professional" punching in to a time clock and getting paid by the hour. So if you're talking about the floor manager who rose from the ranks of the paid-by-the-hour employees, I'd say no. He or she is more analogous to a non-commisioned officer in the miltary. If you're talking about someone with a college degree who is paid a salary, wears a tie or other business attire, and basically doesn't get his hands dirty at work (except for maybe changing the toner cartridge), then I'd say that person is someone who probably sees themself as "a professional," which as I said, seems to no longer mean a member of one of the traditional professions.

Posted By: birdfeed Re: Labour flavor - 01/14/03 07:24 PM
I have run up against the "professional" question many times in my working life; I have worked in libraries for 18 years but am not an official librarian because I do not have a degree in librarianship from an ALA accredited institution. So I am designated "paraprofessional staff" (or "libraroid" in my own terminology). The term "professional librarian" is probably useful as a descriptive word because it really does tell people who know the difference what they can expect from you in the way of expertise, or anyway whether you're on salary or a wage slave like me. To the unwashed public, "librarian" seems to imply the cranky old lady who tells you to be quiet and stamps the due date in the book. Except we don't stamp dates any more, and I work behind the scenes and don't particularly give a rat's ass (a cheap commodity) whether someone's talking in the reading room or not.

I'm a cataloger, and have been doing it long enough that I probably know more about it than a professional who has concentrated on reference work or collection development. So all it indicates in my context is how I get paid. My passport says "librarian" (I think) because it actually means something to most people. My title is "Bibliographic Management Specialist, Senior, Foreign Language Expert."

And then there's the more vague and, to my mind judgmental, connotation, which strongly resembles the "art or craft" dichotomy. I'm also a potter, and many people will tell you instantly that I am not an artist but a craftsman. Apparently I'm putting on airs to suggest I'm an artist?

Neither distinction matters much to me usually, "professional" vs "tradesman", "artist" vs. "craftsman". My father has used "artisan" for "craftsman", but only when speaking of himself in comparison to me, an artist by his reckoning. But he's a retired chemistry professor who builds furniture sometimes. As far as I can see his approach to both roles qualifies him as an artist and a professional, but I'm not sure what I mean by that. Obviously I use those terms as indicative of a certain amount of respect on my part, because I think my father is a renaissance man.

So I'm confused. Call me professional, paraprofessional, artist or artisan. Whatever you like. Just don't call me collect.

Posted By: musick Re: Labour flavor - 01/16/03 01:24 AM
I heard a cable based history network last night refer to the Viking berzerkers as "professional marauders" (cross threading quite nicely)

Alex - I'm sticking with it being a *sense of 'personal rewards'.

Posted By: WhitmanO'Neill Re: Labour flavor - 01/16/03 03:22 AM
Professional can be a mindset, an attitude...using the theatrical analogy, there are community theatre companies with reputations for producing professional work, and everybody wants to work with these companies (and, no, they don't pay), as opposed to community theatre companies who have reputations for producing schlock. So you can strive for "professional" as a quality to your work, regardless of monetary compensation. An oft repeated reprimand in any theatre company from community to dinner theatre to regional to Broadway is "how unprofessional," "that's so unprofessional," or "don't be so unprofessional." This can be delivered in tones ranging from a real insult to a joking reaction to a mistake. But most folks who devout their time and energy to a production have the integrity to want to do professional quality work, and take immense pride and dignity in their creation...and those who labor at lower standards soon acquire a background buzz and can find parts increasingly difficult to come by. So I'll join in with musick's semantic here, and add the nuance of mindset, attitude, and quality work.

I've encountered alot[sic] of jerks in professional companies (said to be pros 'cause they were getting paid)
who had no sense of professionalism whatsoever. Unfortunately, while someone can have a good audition and get the part, there's no telling about their attitude or work habits until you're stuck with them, and the show must go on.

Musicians encounter the same situation with band members.

Posted By: AnnaStrophic Re: professional musicians - 01/16/03 01:12 PM
Musicians encounter the same situation with band members.

...not to mention all the professional orchestras with amateur choruses. Speaking of which, the word "amateur" has gotten an undeserved negative connotation.

Posted By: wow Re: professional - 01/16/03 05:53 PM
Don't know if this is any help -- When I was a reporter the Internal Revenue Service (Inland Revenue) classified me as "a non-exempt professional." Although my boss expected me to be very "professional" in my work.
This IRS classification meant that I got paid overtime for working more than 40 hours in a week.
We reporters tended to think of ourselves as professional writers although some few (reporters are all notorious Ayleurs) claimed we were craftsmen.
Anyhoo ... I think it depends .. I would much rather have a mason build my chimney than a "Professional" Architect

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