Last edited 29 Oct 2020



In general, a professional is someone who has a career in a particular profession. The term can also be used to describe an individual who has achieved certain educational and training standards that provide them with the knowledge, expertise and skills necessary to carry out their role effectively.

In construction, the term ‘professional’ is not taken to cover all levels of expertise and practice. 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 applied is that a ‘professional’ is engaged in a predominately mental activity while a ‘tradesperson’ is mainly engaged in physical labour.

Professions are generally occupations that require a prolonged period of education and training. They are often overseen by professional bodies who may accredit educational establishments and qualified professionals. 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.

In the construction industry, architects are also be bound by regulation. The ARB code of conduct which lays down the 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.

Professionals will generally hold professional indemnity insurance (PII), and are required to undertake continuing professional development’ (CPD) to ensure their skills and knowledge remain up-to-date. CPD has become a vital part of a professional career as a result of; continuous and accelerating changes in technology, regulations and procurement practices; increasing specialisation; and the complexity of the supply chain.

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