Re: Cohousing-L Digest, Vol 192, Issue 22
From: Jane Harper (
Date: Sun, 26 Jan 2020 13:16:38 -0800 (PST)
The phrase "gainfully employed" might be a better fit.
Thanks for your detailed comments and insights, Sharon.

Today's Topics:

   1. What does "professional" mean? (Sharon Villines)


Message: 1
Date: Thu, 23 Jan 2020 11:10:41 -0500
From: Sharon Villines <sharon [at]>
To: Cohousing-L <cohousing-l [at]>
Subject: [C-L]_ What does "professional" mean?
Message-ID: <E5926371-FD1D-41EF-BE4D-430AE2A45938 [at]>
Content-Type: text/plain;       charset=utf-8

As an adjective professional is used to mean:

> characterized by or conforming to the technical or ethical standards of a
> exhibiting a courteous, conscientious, and generally businesslike manner
in the workplace. 
> participating for gain or livelihood in an activity or field of endeavor
often engaged in by amateurs a professional golfer.

Professional vs amateur is the gist of it.

But as a noun, it is used to describe 

> A profession is an occupation or vocation which requires a high degree of
knowledge and expertise in the specific field.

> Professional workers generally including workers who are performing
advanced tasks that require specific training, typically obtained through a
Bachelor's degree.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has a long list of Professional and
Technical Occupations.

They include:

> Engineers, Architects, and Surveyors
> Mathematical And Computer Scientists
> Natural Scientists
> Health Diagnosing Occupations
> Health Assessment And Treating Occupations Teachers Librarians, 
> Archivists And Curators Social Scientists And Urban Planners Social, 
> Recreation, And Religious Workers Lawyers And Judges Writers, Authors, 
> Entertainers And Athletes Health Technologists And Technicians 
> Engineering And Related Technologists And Technicians Science 
> Technicians

Note that this is expanded to include Technical Occupations that require
education at the college or professional school level. Traditionally, the
technical category was not included in the noun use of professional.

I?m sensitive to this because as an artist there is regular exclusion from
being "a professional? unless one is also a college professor. Even being a
community college professor is often not considered at the level of ?a

It is as much as a social class distinction as a description of competence.
A doctor can be a total incompetent but as long as she is a doctor, she is a
professional. An unprofessional professional.

Essentially, ?professional" is a loaded word as noun. As an adjective, like
professional plumber, electrician, bowler, it?s meaning is understood. The
messages have been saying ?professionals?. As a noun it becomes a
socioeconomic designation and more often elitist.

I think there must be a better word for what you mean. Gainfully employed.
Skilled workers. 

Securely employed but without the assets required to get a mortgage?

?Professional? would exclude low income occupations, except maybe artists
who are rarely securely employed. If you want to be an artist, first become
a plumber. 

Sharon Villines, Washington DC

"The story of history is the story of Increasing organization."


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