Do you consider yourself a professional? Most trades that require a specific knowledge or training do. From construction, manufacturing, sales and service, all will be acknowledged a professional at some point and time.
When I studied the origins of the term “professional”, it took me through history. In the pre-industrial world, a professional was an elite highly educated person that was established as a pro by a long study capped by a societal recognition, (Doctor, Layer, etc.). Today, almost every trade has a board that recognizes their specialty as a profession.
So where do firefighters fall into the “professional” strata? Training, and credentialing and more than anything else, public acceptance. Although many States do not regulate firefighter credentials, it is up to you as an individual to embrace the profession as one that demands high standards in training and performance. Being “highly trained” will set you apart, even within the fire service. One of the biggest pieces of the professional status is your reputation in the public eye. Your customers aren’t as impressed with your credentials as they are with how you treat them. How you make someone feel will be remembered long after the incident is over.
I have heard many a salty dog tell me that their years of service has given them a PhD of the job. I have also heard many highly papered officers embarrass me with their lack of operational knowledge. Somewhere in between the “profession” must regulate itself with accountability of our performance to stay inline with our mission.
Becoming a pro, in the end, is nothing grander than growing up. Steven Pressfield –
A professional is someone who is trained in an expertise that separates them from others not trained. There are many variations of the definition, I like Merriam Webster’s take;
(1) : characterized by or conforming to the technical or
ethical standards of a profession (2) : exhibiting a
courteous, conscientious, and generally
businesslike manner in the workplace.
If you think you are a professional because you get “paid” for your work, you may be missing the boat…. Set yourself apart from others by being a professional at all times.
Parting shot; What happen to firefighters being skilled tradesmen? Have we lost our way somewhere along the line chasing a professional status? what say you?
photo credit: Texas Fire Chief’s Academy 2012