Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
A professional body or professional organization is an organisation, usually non-profit, that exists to further a particular profession, to protect both the public interest and the interests of professionals. The balance between these two may be a matter of opinion. One the one hand, professional bodies act to protect the public by maintaining and enforcing standards of training and ethics in their profession. On the other hand, they may also act like a cartel or a labor union (trade union) for the members of the profession, though this description is commonly rejected by the body concerned. Membership of a professional body does not necessarily mean that a person possesses qualifications in the subject area, nor that they are legally able to practice their profession - although in some countries and professions, membership of a professional body is required for somebody to legally practice.
Many professional bodies also act as learned societies for the academic disciplines underlying their professions.
In countries where the legal system entitles defendants to a jury by their peers, the general public may not be considered sufficiently knowledgeable in a field of practice to act as a peer in some legal cases. For example, the average person may not be able to determine if a civil engineer took reasonable care to ensure a bridge would not collapse. Therefore, the government may define self-governing professional associations of peers in specific fields.
As part of their self-governing mandate, professional associations are usually responsible for licensing of practitioners in their field. Furthermore, a person is usually prohibited from advertising as a "professional" unless they are a member in good standing of the relevant professional association.
Professional associations do not always concern themselves with licensing or the equivalent or government regulations. In the United States, journalist seek to avoid government involvement in their work or "official" definitions.
Examples of professional associations
- Institution of Engineers, Australia
Republic of Ireland
- British Medical Association
- Institution of Civil Engineers
- Law Society
- Royal Institute of British Architects
- American Society of Civil Engineers
- Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
- Society of Automotive Engineers
- Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers
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