- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 28 Jan 2019
|A broad, but increasingly inaccurate distinction often made is that a ‘professional’ is engaged in a predominately mental activity while a ‘tradesperson’ is mainly engaged in physical labour.|
A construction professional is someone who has a career in a construction-related discipline. This can include architects, contractors, engineers, surveyors and so on. They will normally have achieved certain educational and training qualifications which provide them with the knowledge, expertise and skills necessary to carry out their role effectively. They may also be a member of a professional institution, such as the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) or The Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists (CIAT).
In construction, the term ‘professional’ does not tend to cover all occupations. Highly-skilled workers, such as carpenters, electricians, plumbers, steelworkers, and so on, may be described as ‘trades’ or ‘craft’ workers, rather than professionals. A very broad, but increasingly inaccurate distinction that is often made is that a ‘professional’ is engaged in a predominately mental activity while a ‘tradesperson’ is mainly engaged in physical labour.
Construction professions generally require a prolonged period of education and training. For example, it can take seven years to qualify as an architect, a period that alternates between education and working in practice.
Most professions are often overseen by professional bodies which may accredit educational establishments and academic and/or vocational courses as well as registering suitably-qualified individuals or companies. The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) for example, accredits courses at schools of architecture where students can gain the required qualifications (whether full- or part-time) that are needed to eventually qualify as an architect. However, architecture courses may also be run by educational establishments that are not RIBA accredited.
Professional bodies may set standards of ethics, performance, competence, insurance, training and so on that must be met to remain within the profession. These are typically set out in a code of conduct which members are expected to observe. Not abiding by the code of conduct can lead to expulsion from the professional body and even charges of professional misconduct.
Construction professionals will often have professional indemnity insurance (PII), and may be required to undertake continuing professional development (CPD) to ensure their skills and knowledge remain up-to-date. Due to the pace of technological change, regulations and procurement practices, increasing specialisation, and the complexity of the supply chain, CPD has become a vital part of a professional career.
However, it is not always necessary to be a member fo a professional body in order to be practice as a professional. Professional bodies may give designations such as letters that members can use or chartered status that clients may find reassuring.
 Regulations and codes of conduct
In the construction industry, architects are also bound by regulation. The Architects Registration Board (ARB) code of conduct lays down standards of professional conduct and practice expected of persons registered as architects under the Architects Act. In addition, if they are members of the RIBA, they will be subject to the requirements of the RIBA Code of Professional Conduct (although this is not required).
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