Published here September 2012
Contributors Providing General Information
I found this to be fairly interesting on the topic, from the Font of all Knowledge
- Wikipedia. And while I don't hold Wikipedia to be an authority of any kind,
the page/topic in question has been written and/or edited by over 600 people.
Some excerpts - Main milestones on the way to becoming a profession:
- 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.
The first three agreed upon professions [are] law, medicine, divinity (the
"learned professions"). Some subsequent professions have achieved the milestones
above [e.g.] pharmacy, veterinary medicine, nursing, teaching, librarianship,
optometry, social work, architecture, surveying, actuarial science, dentistry,
civil engineering, accountancy, logistics.
And some further descriptors of profession; see how many apply to PMs:
- "A profession arises when any trade or occupation transforms itself through
"the development of formal qualifications based upon education, apprenticeship,
and examinations, the emergence of regulatory bodies with powers to admit and
discipline members, and some degree of monopoly rights."
- "Professions are typically regulated by statute, with the responsibilities
of enforcement delegated to respective professional bodies, whose function is
to define, promote, oversee, support and regulate the affairs of its members."
- "There is considerable agreement about defining the characteristic features
of a profession. They have a "professional association, cognitive base, institutionalized
training, licensing, work autonomy, colleague control ... (and) code of ethics,
It's interesting to note that, of all the professions listed, not one is related
to business or management.
Trevor, at the end of your last post you observed: "It's interesting to note
that, of all the professions listed, not one is related to business or management"
In Wikipedia that is. As an interesting aside, in the UK, if you are a member
of the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) then you are a member of the profession
of "Management" by virtue CMI's UK Royal Charter. This charter is relatively recent
given their some 100 years of existence. E&OE.
But I see the issue a little differently. Not whether we are professional (I
would hope that all of us are) nor whether we are a "profession" (in the generic
sense - anyone that undertakes a consistent and acceptable productive process
may be considered as acting as a "profession") but whether we are (or should be)
a *registered* profession. There are many arguments for and against such a step.
On balance there are more arguments against than for, so personally, I am against
such a step, largely because of the extra bureaucracy, liability and expense involved.
However, there is also the issue of what sort of *project* might we be talking
about? Getting breakfast for the first time on a camping trip could be managed
as a "project" but that would hardly call for procuring the services of a registered
professional project manager to conduct such an enterprise.
No, I think that project management is a life skill that everyone should be
taught as a part of their general education!
Several decades ago, I recall that Dr. John Adams struggled with these issues
[of what constitutes the elements of a profession] when we (on the Board of PMI)
were contemplating the introduction of a certification program (now "PMP"). If
I remember correctly, in his research John identified 5 key attributes of
a "profession" namely:
- A distinct Body of Knowledge
- A training program
- A Code of Ethics
- A supporting organization
- A certification program
Subsequent authors have identified more than five. For example, Alex S. Brown.
PMP IPMA-C suggests nine - see www.alexsbrown.com/prof9.html.
So, as many have suggested, I suspect that the majority of so-called "project
managers" are not members of the profession. However, that does not mean that
such a "profession" does not actually exist.
... the real issue is this ... why does it matter?
I suggest that it matters (to some people) because it is a question of status.
Bill, you [also] postulate that "if profession = occupation, then there is no
status in being profession." That is probably true except in the case where you
compare it to those who have no occupation at all. However, in this case "occupation"
should be qualified.
For example, this link www.preservearticles.com/2012011220561/what-are-the-important-characteristics-of-a-profession.html
"The following are the common characteristics of a profession:
- It demands possession of a body of specialized knowledge and extended practical
- It renders an essential social service.
- It demands continuous in service training of its members.
- It has a clearly defined membership of a particular group with a view to safe-
guarding the interests of the profession.
- It involves a code of ethics.
- It sets up its own professional organization.
- It assures its members a professional career.
- It has a truth and loyalty.
- It has a transparency of work.
- It gives instantaneous results."
While members of PMI (for example) probably qualify under i; v; vi; viii, I
am not so sure about the other six in the list.
Max - there are several versions of the characteristics of a "profession."
Personally, I'm not really interested in debating what those characteristics are
or should be. I just think that if you ask someone, "is X a profession?" you should
identify which one of those versions you are asking about so that you can get
an informed answer.
Max, is "Welder" a profession? I know nothing about their unique Code of Ethics
and professional organization.
Vladimir, I think welding is considered a trade. But that does raise the interesting
question of whether "surgeon" is a trade or a profession.
Fascinating stuff. Certainly in the UK a large proportion of the major employers
regard competent project managers as important as the traditional "professionals"
(accountants, lawyers, surveyors etc.), as they typically deliver added value
that positively impacts the bottom line.
As a result, those corporate institutions acknowledging project management
as an important professional business discipline are invariably implementing supportive
frameworks to give such professional individuals recognition and status, and at
the same time mapping a joined-up and visible pathway for the next generations
of project management professionals.
Interestingly, there is also an undercurrent to not only recognize professional
project management skills and competence, but also to acknowledge project management
as a life skill at a much lower level, rather like the relationship between being
able to count and being and a fully qualified accountant.
Furthermore, it is not just corporate institutions acknowledging the need for
project management skills at a lower level across all aspects of their business,
but as well as seeing an increasing number of full academic project management
programs, we are also seeing academia recognizing the need to include basic project
management knowledge on a modular basis into an increasing number of differing
full academic programs.
Bill, Re your question: "But the real issue is this ... why does it matter?"
I'm sure you know as well as I do why this issue matters.
There are a number of organizations particularly in the USA, who are making
a lot of money by charging project managers for so-called 'professional qualifications'
based on the very premise that project management is a profession. Tied into that
is the equally strong marketing message that any project manager who does not
pay for their 'professional qualification' is not a proper project manager, and
should not be employed as such. Therefore, for commercial reasons and for the
future independence of those of us practicing project management as a skill, rather
than selling it as a product, this is a very important issue.
defines profession as follows: "A profession is a vocation founded upon specialized
high educational training, the purpose of which is to supply objective counsel
and service to others, for a direct and definite compensation, wholly apart from
expectation of other business gain."
Oxford Dictionaries (http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/profession)
defines profession as follows: "A paid occupation, especially one that involves
prolonged training and a formal qualification: his chosen profession of teaching
a barrister by profession".
Are car mechanics, tailors, carpenters, or cooks professionals? Some go through
long schooling to learn this trade, than some just learn it on the job over time.
Since in many countries licensing is not required to carry out this job, learning
on the job is accepted.
Project management is like a trade; one learns basic skills then becomes a
"journey man" to obtain practical experience. Skill and experience together will
make a good project manager. Nowadays, to demonstrate your skill many employers
require you to have either a Prince2 or a PMP [certification]. Experience of course
is a must.