A profession refers to an occupation that requires specialized education, knowledge, training and ethics. Although professionals make their living in what they do, this paid work is often more than just a job or occupation alone. Whether the occupation is law, medicine, plumbing, writing, interior design or baseball, those who are in it are expected to meet and maintain common standards.
Professions are, ideally, made up of people with high ethical standards who have special knowledge and skills. The responsibility of people in certain occupations to the public is an important distinction from those who may participate in the fields on an amateur or non-professional basis. For example, if a homeowner hires a non-licensed plumber to save money, he or she wouldn't be able to hold this person to the same standards as a licensed professional in the same industry.
People within some careers are at a much different level, as well as held to a higher degree of responsibility, than those doing the same thing as a hobby or on a more casual basis. For instance, an aspiring writer who writes for no or low pay wouldn't necessarily be expected to produce the same quality of work as a professionally experienced author who makes a full-time living at the craft. In some professions, an amateur or hobby level isn't allowed for reasons of public safety. For example, only a professional physician with qualified credentials is permitted to treat patients as a medical doctor.
Professional development is often a key feature of this type of job. Those within a specific profession usually don't just complete the initial education and credentials, but typically must renew licensing or take updating courses. Professional associations typically set standards as well as guidelines for refresher courses and other types of career updating.
For example, the American professional body, the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA), offers access to refresher courses for members who have been out of the workforce for some time. It suggests which type of courses are recommended for legal assistants, or paralegals, depending on their particular situation. A variety of delivery methods for refresher courses is offered to provide convenience for members. For instance, NALA's courses are usually offered in-person as well as through different Internet learning options.