Classically, there were only three : divinity, medicine, and law—the so-called "learned professions." The main milestones which mark an occupation being identified as a profession are:
- 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.
With the rise of technology and occupational specialization in the 19th century, other bodies began to claim professional status: pharmacy, veterinary medicine, nursing, teaching, librarianship, optometry and social work, all of which could claim, using these milestones, to be professions by 1900.
Just as some professions rise in status and power through various stages, so others may decline. This is characterized by the red cloaks of bishops giving way to the black cloaks of lawyers and then to the white cloaks of doctors. More recently formalized disciplines, such as architecture, now have equally long periods of study associated with them.
Although professions enjoy high status and public prestige, not all professionals earn high salaries, and even within specific professions there exist significant inequalities of compensation; for example, a trial lawyer specializing in tort litigation on a contingent-fee basis may earn several times what a prosecutor or public defender earns.
Read more about this topic: Profession
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