The Difference Between a Professional and a Nonprofessional: The Importance of Ethical Standards

1. Introduction

A professional is someone who has gone through a certain amount of training and has acquired a body of knowledge which guide one in decision making and moral judgment. The word ‘professional’ is used in many different contexts, but there are certain occupations which are generally considered to be true professions. Examples of these include doctors, lawyers, dentists, and accountants. In this essay, we will discuss what differentiates a professional from a nonprofessional and the importance of having ethical standards within a profession.

2. What is a true profession?

There are certain characteristics which are generally associated with a true profession. The first of these is that the occupation in question requires a significant amount of training and education. This is usually in the form of a university degree, although there are some occupations which require professional qualifications which can only be obtained by completing an apprenticeship or other on-the-job training. Once someone has qualified as a professional, they will generally have to undertake regular continuing professional development (CPD) in order to keep their knowledge up-to-date.

Another key characteristic of a true profession is that practitioners are expected to adhere to a code of conduct. This is a set of ethical principles which govern how they must behave both in their personal and professional lives. For example, the code of conduct for doctors states that they must ‘treat all patients with dignity and respect’ and ‘act in the best interests of their patients’. Codes of conduct help to ensure that professionals maintain high standards of behaviour and act in an ethical manner.

Finally, another key characteristic of a profession is that practitioners are usually regulated by a professional body. This is an organisation which sets the standards for entry into the profession and monitors the conduct of its members. For example, the General Medical Council (GMC) is the professional body for doctors in the UK and it is responsible for ensuring that doctors meet the required standards of education and training before they can practise medicine. Professional bodies also have the power to discipline members who breach the code of conduct or act in an unethical manner.

3. The codes of conduct

As we have seen, one of the key characteristics of a true profession is that practitioners are expected to adhere to a code of conduct. Codes of conduct set out the ethical principles which govern how professionals must behave both in their personal and professional lives. They help to ensure that professionals maintain high standards of behaviour and act in an ethical manner.

There are many different codes of conduct which exist for different professions. However, there are some common themes which run through all codes of conduct. These include honesty, integrity, impartiality, confidentiality, and respect for others. For example, the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy’s (BACP) code of ethics states that counsellors must be ‘honest about their qualifications, experience and approach to counselling’ and must act with ‘integrity… [and] not take advantage of clients’ vulnerabilities’. The BACP also expects counsellors to respect their clients’ confidentiality except in exceptional circumstances (such as where there is risk of serious harm).

4. The importance ethical standards

The importance ethical standards cannot be overstated. They provide guidance for professionals on how they should behave both in their personal and professional lives. Adhering to these standards helps to ensure that professionals maintain high standards of behaviour and act in an ethical manner.

There are many different codes of conduct which exist for different professions. However, there are some common themes which run through all codes of conduct. These include honesty, integrity, impartiality, confidentiality, and respect for others. For example, the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy’s (BACP) code of ethics states that counsellors must be ‘honest about their qualifications, experience and approach to counselling’ and must act with ‘integrity… [and] not take advantage of clients’ vulnerabilities’. The BACP also expects counsellors to respect their clients’ confidentiality except in exceptional circumstances (such as where there is risk of serious harm).

5. Conclusion

In conclusion, it is clear that there are many different characteristics which distinguish a professional from a nonprofessional. Professionals are expected to have a certain amount of training and education, to adhere to a code of conduct, and to be regulated by a professional body. Ethical standards are extremely important within a profession and help to ensure that professionals maintain high standards of behaviour and act in an ethical manner.

FAQ

A true profession is one that requires a high level of skill and training, and one in which the practitioner can exercise a great deal of autonomy.

One can know if they are in a true profession by looking at the level of skill and training required to enter the field, as well as the degree to which practitioners can make independent decisions.

The benefits of being in a true profession include autonomy, high levels of skill and training, and potentially high earnings.

The drawbacks to being in a true profession include long hours, intense competition, and high levels of stress.