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Characteristics of a Profession

The following document was developed when I was a graduate student working on my doctorate at the University of Virginia. Read the following, and decide for yourself whether your profession meets these criteria. I consider the criteria to be an important set of guidelines and an integral part of ADPRIMA.

Bob Kizlik

I. Professions are occupationally related social institutions established and maintained as a means of providing essential services to the individual and the society.

2. Each profession is concerned with an identified area of need or function (for example, maintenance of physical and emotional health, preservation of rights and freedom, enhancing the opportunity to learn).

3. The profession collectively, and the professional individually, possesses a body of knowledge and a repertoire of behaviors and skills (professional culture) needed in the practice of the profession; such knowledge, behavior, and skills normally are not possessed by the nonprofessional.

4. Members of the profession are involved in decision making in the service of the client. These decisions are made in accordance with the most valid knowledge available, against a background of principles and theories, and within the context of possible impact on other related conditions or decisions.

5. The profession is based on one or more undergirding disciplines from which it builds its own applied knowledge and skills.

6. The profession is organized into one or more professional associations, which, within broad limits of social accountability, are granted autonomy in control of the actual work of the profession and the conditions that surround it (admissions, educational standards, examination and licensing, career line, ethical and performance standards, professional discipline).

7. The profession has agreed-upon performance standards for admission to the profession and for continuance within it.

8. Preparation for and induction into the profession is provided through a protracted preparation program, usually in a professional school on a college or university campus.

9. There is a high level of public trust and confidence in the profession and in individual practitioners, based upon the profession's demonstrated capacity to provide service markedly beyond that which would otherwise be available.

10. Individual practitioners are characterized by a strong service motivation and lifetime commitment to competence.

11. Authority to practice in any individual case derives from the client or the employing organization; accountability for the competence of professional practice within the particular case is to the profession itself.

12. There is relative freedom from direct on-the-job supervision and from direct public evaluation of the individual practitioner. The professional accepts responsibility in the name of his or her profession and is accountable through his or her profession to the society.

So, do you think your profession, especially teaching, makes the grade?

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Robert Kizlik & Associates

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