What makes a "Professional"?
First of all, this isn’t meant to be a flame towards anyone.
What does it take, in your eyes, to be considered a “Professional” contractor? Can you be considered a professional at what you do and still learn every day? Must you have an answer for everything right off or can you research?
I think a professional is aways learning to further enhance his abilities to service his clients. Education is a lifelong process. Research is just one of the tools used in learning. In fact, to assume one knows everything about his profession is arrogant and denegrates his ability to serve.
In my case, it's not unusual for me to say to a client, "I'll find out more about that for you." It also show honesty. One never knows where he will learn something and is why, among other perodicals, since I first started getting Handyman Magazine 30 years ago, I still get it even though I consider myself a professional in my segment of our industry. It's also why I have about a hundred sites bookmarked that are related to our industry.
Heck, it's also one of the reasons I get involved with forums like this one. Our world changes almost daily.
*Don't know know exactly what it takes to be a professional. Years back, when resume padding was needed, my rule of thumb was.....if you're been paid to do it, consider yourself a professional! Good enough for the Olympics, good enough for me! But I will venture, a true professional will be learning everyday. And a true professional will admit when they don't have enough info to go forward with conviction, and know where to turn for the needed info. Nothing wrong with not knowing the answer, as long as you know you don't have it....and know where to look. And of course, the background to apply the new info always helps! Jeff
*Had a new thought. How about simply...a professional serves his clients and profession as best he can. Jeff
*I just went and checked the dictionary, and learning has nothing to do with it. If it's your livelihood, you're a professional.Persoanlly, I wouldn't hire/engage anyone who claims to know it all.Bob
*To me, a "professional" is someone with high moral and ethical standards and a vested experience in his given field of endeavor. Experience is an ongoing process, but the ethical standards are something more innate. There has to be some proclivity there in a person's character to behave responsibly. Contractors with 25 years experience are not necessarily professional. Their character makes them so.
*How to define professional - which is probably one of the most abused and overused terms around today, except possibly for the phrases "what’s up" and "is that your final answer".The definition has to be more than simply getting paid for what you do, this is far too loose or broad based of a description and is so all-inclusive that it defines nothing. Continuing education is certainly a part of what a professional must do, but applies more to the ethics of practice than to completely define the term. To be recognized as a professional and to have your time valued and compensated accordingly by the clientele or consumer, the definition or qualifications should include:1- Formal education2- Training with a mentor3- Appropriate testing and licensing4- Recognition by peers5- Continuing education6- Years of successful practice Notice that this requires significantly more effort that simply purchasing Quick Books Pro, a few tools and then announcing that you are now a professional contractor.
*I gave my long winded opinion in the "underbidding" thread, but you basically nailed it with fewer.
*While I'd agree with Adrian and Peter regarding accredidation, either formal, or through experience, being a "professional" means more than meeting some requirements.To me, the phrase "he's a pro" carries connotations of quality, not just credentials. The professional understands what constitute "industry standards" and never accepts less, even if the customer would. This is not to be confused with the term "craftsman", which is something else again.
*don't you think that most of us just wake up one day.. and say.. hey, i been doing this thing for so many years now.. maybe it's time i decided what i want to do when i grow up...can't be peter pan for ever.. and then we buckle down and learn everything we can about our profession.....i would guess it's in the realm of (( master carpenter)) it's not something you call yourself.. it's conferred by the people you come in contact with.. and mostly the opinions you value would be those of one's peers..... i remember some of the 17 year old kids i've had working for me in the past.. some are just jerks.. some are real professionals in their line ..you watch them grow.. and some never do...
*I see it a bit differently...When your competition refers to you as a professional, then you have made it to the ranks.We each think of ourselves as professeional in our repsective trades. What separates us from the pack is what OTHERS think of us. That includes so much more than our skill levels. It also includes our moral levels, knowledge of our trade, honesty, integrity, dedication, and rapport with our clients.near the ditch...James "Loving Life" DuHamel
*James, you have an unusual amount of wisdom. You're right of course, and Gulp!! stated it briefly too.
*Thanks, Sonny Short and sweet whenever possible.near the ditch...James "Loving Life" Duhamel
*Has nothing to do with reputation, learning or accreditation. Has everything to do with attitude. A professional has the attitude that everything done will be done in a workmanlike manner consistent with the quality and time constraints agreed upon with the customer.The other factors may come in time. But a person can be a professional the first job out the gate.
*Interesting that many of us feel that to be called a professional, all you need to do is act the part and have some ethics, but no real qualifications. I suppose the thinking is, if it looks like a duck, sounds like a duck and acts like a duck, then………I have some trouble with that line of reasoning. Consider this for example. Could someone purchase the best word processor on the market, tap out a few articles and announce to the world that they have now become a professional writer, without ever studying literature or journalism? I seriously doubt that they would be recognized as such.
*I like and agree with James' theory>When your competition refers to you as a professional, then you have made it to the ranks.and I think James' qualification factor answers Jim's problems with some of the reasoning he sees when he says>Could someone purchase the best word processor on the market, tap out a few articles and announce to the world that they have now become a professional writer, without ever studying literature or journalism? I seriously doubt that they would be recognized as such. Simply it takes recognition by your competition and peers. If you are getting that then your can consider yourself as a "professional". If your not then you've got something to work on.While pleasing and answering your clients needs is of paramount importance to the success of your business and what they think of you is more ultimatly more important than what you peers and competition think I put a lesser emphasis on their evaluation with regard to judging "professionalism". I feel that’s due to their lack of experience in the business. They can be fooled (some of the time) into thinking that you are something that you are not. I saw a typical example of that just the other day when a client wanted to show off to me the tremendous faux finish they had their painter do for them in their kitchen. It didn’t take me much more than a second to recognize that the job was done with a sponge and in fact I could even tell that it was a standard kitchen sponge. The effect also seemed to stop abruptly when it got in close to the corners. They (the client) think they got a professional job while I know that the painter was just a hack. Were thay happy with it? Yup they sure were. Would they recommend him to other? They we're recommending him to me until they learned that we do faux work too. Would I ever use him? Not until he had a lot more training and education.
*Part of the problem in answering this question is to first decide what is a profession. Doing something for money doesn't make it a profession, but an occupation (as opposed to an advocation). Artists whose work sells are called professionals, but is art a profession? No, it's art. Historically, professions are limited to occupations which require educational or practical experience for admission, as determined by testing, which resulted in licensure, and are internally self-regulating with a set code of conduct, ethics and rules. The historic professions are medicine, law, engineering, architecture, teaching. The all have the common elements. Now construction is comprised of crafts and trades. These historically did not require a license, but rather skills earned through the apprentice process, learning under the tutelage of a master. And so it doesn't fall within the ambit of a profession. And so whats wrong with that? Has anybody every called a doctor a master? Professional has come to be used to mean someone who is paid for their services. It's a misuse of the word and it is demeaning to what we do here. To learn a trade, and become a master, a person of skilled who is permitted entrance to a guild as determined by his superior craftsmen, certainly seems honor enough. There's nothing dishonorable about the heritage of crafts and trades to make one want to be something else. SHG
*Mr Law:Well said. That is why I took the definition of the word "professional" that I did.We can argue all day, or for many days, about licensure, peer review, etc. But the bottom line in crafts is the craftman's attitude and unflinching desire to satisfy the customer's needs. I guess I should add something that should have been obvious from my prior posts. A key part of the pro's duty is to educate the customer so that everyone understands what is being done, why and so there are no surprises for anyone.
*shglaw.. i think you're being politically correct..historically, teaching was not considered a professional pursuit....or, it was. until the dark ages..... and then it wasn't .. and now it is again....and architects didn't exist.. niether did engineers.....before there were architects there were ((master buildrs)) and the profession of architect devolved from them.. there came a division of labor... or specialization... and the designers became architects... and the builders just kept on truckin..but i believe the profession of ((builder)) precedes that of doctor of medicine.... and is at least as old as that of lawyer.. it is only in the last two hundred years , and especially the last century, that easy entry to the field of builder has confused the issue of it's being a profession.... or JUST A JOB......course i could be wrong for the second time in my life.....
*You Rhode Islanders, always with the jokes. You see, the choices aren't professional or asshole. That's where the discussion takes a bad turn. And historically doesn't have to go back 1000 years. A century will do. Builders were around before lawyers. After all, somebody had to build the courthouses. But that didn't make it a profession then, just as a lawyer will never be a craftsman now. They are different vocations, and comparing them diminshes both. I don't understand what would make a craftsman want to be a lawyer. I'm a lawyer who wants to be a craftsman. Go figure.SHG
*Opposite of professional is amateur, plenty of tradesmen stay amateur all their carrers. Plenty of DIY are amateurs, some better than others. I think that the question could be, "What makes someone successful"? Is it just making money as a contractor? The guys I always related as "Pro" or "Successful" were the guys who love the craft, who would almost do it free if they had to. These guys work is always "Pro" just ask their customers. Also we all know Masters who have a rotten bedside manner, their work is flawless but the customer hates their guts. Had to throw a plumber off a job this year because of his foul language, the wife wanted to kill him, he was by far the best craftsman I've met...I came here to raise the bar, hang with some "Pro's" I hope some will rub off.
*Maybe it's a gross oversimplification but I think that a large part of what makes someone "professional" is doing what he/she knows is the proper thing even when it isn't the easiest thing or when it might cost them some of their profit.
*Nick, stop being silly. You've hardly used any big works, and are completely lacking at arcane references. And look how short that silly little paragragh is! Please, this is an arguement over semantics, please gather your thoughts, jumble them a little, and re-submit! Jeff
*But he was highly calipygian.SHG
*Coming up through the ranks, I worked for several different contractors. They all had a different definition of "professional". One was a high end builder. I took a job with him because of his reputation for detailed work. I thought I would have the time to do some really nice trim work. But to him, "anyone could do a nice job given enough time. The professional was the one that did a nice job in the shortest time possible."Another fellow was of jewish decent. He was always using "used" materials or seconds. His take on professionalism was that "anyone could do a good job with first rate materials. The professional was the one that still could make it look good using less than ideal stuff".Now at 47 years old, I believe that the professional is the one that after spending his life in the trades, and stumbling along with his business until it reaches a point of profitability, returns to the others in his industry and the newbies coming along, and tries to make things easier and better for them. At that point, his focus is truely on the profession and not merely self-serving. Literally "professional".
*Hey! I resent that remark. And I'm pretty sure I'm not.
*I used to believe that there are only 5 true professions: the clergy, medicine, the law, engineering, and soldiering. The theory goes that a professional is someone who does a job because it is the right thing to do, despite whatever personal costs may be involved. A professional assumes the responsibility for reasons other than personal gain. I no longer believe this exactly but I do think the term "professional" is getting spread awfully thin. I mean who considers whiny athletes making a million bucks a month professional? Anyway I don't really have a point other that it seems awfully hard these days to conduct one's self in an honourable way when at every turn you're confronted by those who continually try to cheat their way through life. FWIW I think being a "craftsman" is a pretty damned honourable "profession".
*Gerry, "ethics" is separate from professionalism. An ethical person, regardless of his/her profession, always maintains their ethics even when continually confronted or attacked by unethical people around them.It's a bitch to do just that, but you'll find that there are way to many people who "voice" ethical standards until it costs them money. Then all bets are off.I'm glad an older sister partially raised me when my mother had a lengthly illness, always saying: "Whether it cost you money, inconvenience, time or loss of stature, always to the right thing. It's what sets you apart from the masses. It IS your name, and as such, exemplifies what you stand for."Glad the old girl drummed that into me. I've raised my 4 kids with the same philosophy. I think that is only a part of what a professional personifies.
*I think that the word "Professional" has been used and abused so much by so many that it no longer can be defined with any accuracy or consistency and as a result means something different to each of us.I'm presently on a project with a drop dead schedule. Not one of the main trades wants to be the one to delay the project. I don't stand over them and try to ride them, instead I stay out of their way and support their needs.On Saturday, I had 80% of my forces on site working at their task, plumbers, electricians, masons, refrigeration, steel workers and drywallers.On Sunday, I had 60% of these same forces on site.No one had to work, no one was told to work.To me, these are professionals.They put pride into their work and receive satisfaction from a job well done.Gabe
*The opposite works too Gabe...the best concrete sub I had years ago also did his own excavations...I loved it cause it eliminated the blame game and hold ups...And this guy taught me a great rule...Life's to short to work week ends or miss a minute with his family when family time starts...He told me upfront that when 3pm hits on Friday he will be starting his RV, wife, kids, boat, food and pets gone for the weekend. Gabe, this guy was as pro as pro can be.near the stream,aj
*My accounting textbook defines a professional as anyone in the service industry who is willing to sacrifice his wants and desires in order to ensure that the best interests of the client are served.Jon Blakemore
*How do you go about finding a "professional" doctor, lawyer, accountant, etc.? The obvious answer is a referral from a friend, but if that avenue isn't available, what do you look for?
First of all, this isn't meant to be a flame towards anyone.
What does it take, in your eyes, to be considered a "Professional" contractor? Can you be considered a professional at what you do and still learn every day? Must you have an answer for everything right off or can you research?