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Jobs that fall within the category of "profession" typically include attorneys, teachers, doctors, accountants and similar occupations. A semiprofession is a job that is very similar to one considered to be a profession, but generally requires less education or experience. It also usually involves less responsibility than the full profession to which it is related and will likely have a lower pay rate.
Many professions have one or more associated semiprofessions. For example, in law, an attorney would generally be considered a professional, and a paralegal would be considered a semiprofessional. Likewise, a dentist would be considered a professional, whereas a dental hygienist would likely be considered a semiprofessional.
The term "semiprofession" has become controversial in some areas, particularly when applied to teaching and medicine. In teaching, a certified teacher would be considered a professional, whereas assistants and other specialists are often classified as semiprofessionals. In many places, the term "paraprofessional," or "parapro," has evolved to describe those who hold a semiprofession within the educational arena. This term, however, does not apply to higher education, wherein professors are still considered professionals, and teaching assistants and lecturers are generally considered to be semiprofessionals.
The lines between profession and semiprofession are often quite blurred within the medical community. Doctors, pharmacists and veterinarians are generally classified as full professionals. Assistants, however, including physician's assistants, are considered by some to be full professionals and by others to be semiprofessionals. Nursing is generally accepted to be a full profession in most of the US and Europe, but is still considered a semiprofession in some parts of the world.
A semiprofession generally requires fewer years of education than a full profession. For example, an accountant or actuary may require both an advanced degree and a national certification. An accounting assistant, on the other hand, may only require a two-year degree, or even a training course, and probably will not need to be certified.
Several additional factors are generally accepted as differentiating a semiprofession from a full profession. During training, full professionals often spend considerably more time studying theoretical aspects of their fields, whereas semiprofessional training usually focuses almost exclusively on practical aspects of the field. A semiprofessional will probably have more general and less specialized knowledge and skill within the field.
The income and authority levels are usually higher in a full profession than in a semiprofession. Full professionals may be accorded more respect within the industry. Semiprofessionals, on the other hand, tend to be more closely managed.