Reference: The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
While there is no agreed definition of a profession, the Australian Council of Professions (Professions Australia) defines a profession as:
'A disciplined group of individuals who adhere to high ethical standards and uphold themselves to, and are accepted by, the public as possessing special knowledge and skills in a widely recognised, organised body of learning derived from education and training at a high level, and who are prepared to exercise this knowledge and these skills in the interest of others.
Inherent in this definition is the concept that the responsibility for the welfare, health and safety of the community shall take precedence over other considerations.'
(Dr John Southwick, 'Australian Council of Professions’ view', during proceedings of a joint conference on competition law and the professions, Perth, April 1997)
Examples of professions include:
health related—doctors, dentists, physiotherapists, podiatrists, pharmacists
non-health related—architects, engineers, veterinarians, surveyors, lawyers.
Classically, there were only three professions: Divinity, Medicine, and Law. The main milestones which mark an occupation being identified as a profession are:
- It became a full-time occupation;
- The first training school was established;
- The first university school was established;
- The first local association was established;
- The first national association was established;
- The codes of professional ethics were introduced;
- State licensing laws were established.
With the rise of technology and occupational specialization in the 19th century, other bodies began to claim professional status: Pharmacy, Veterinary Medicine, Nursing, Teaching, Librarianship, Optometry and Social Work, all of which could claim, using these milestones, to be professions by 1900.