The word 'professional' and its meaning has been on my mind recently. It occurred to me that the word ‘professional’ is an umbrella word that encapsulates a number of different values, all of which combine together to form what is an unconscious understanding of this most innocuous of words.
First of all there is the element of contract. As a professional, one agrees to undertake a thing and, subsequently, one does it. Next, is the element of quality: the word ‘professional’ presupposes a minimum standard that the work will be carried out to. For the amateur, there can be no guarantee of quality, and although the word does not presuppose quality, that is not to say – of course – that the amateur will not produce work of quality.
Money can be seen as an adjunct: A professional may be paid or they may not be paid. Usually they are, sometimes they are not. In addition, it may be that the better a professional the are (the better the quality of their work, and the better they are at meeting and exceeding the terms of their contract), the more money they will be paid. However, this isn’t necessarily so, and shouldn’t be bound up so tightly with what is meant by the word ‘professional’.