Last edited 15 Jun 2021

Professional body


A professional body (sometimes referred to as a professional association, organisation, institute or society) is an organisation that comprises members who are professionals in a specific sector, such as construction.

In this context, the term 'professional' refers to an individual who has achieved certain educational and training standards that provide them with the knowledge, expertise and skills necessary to carry a particular role effectively.

Professional bodies typically seek to further the interests of their profession and members. They may also set standards for 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.

It is compulsory for certain professions to be a member of a particular professional body, in order that they have a ‘licence to practice’, or be included on a professional register, for example, architects must be registered with the Architects Registration Board.

A chartered institute, or a chartered body, is a professional body which has been granted a Royal Charter and provides members with a route towards becoming qualified as a chartered professional.

NB Setting the bar. A new competence regime for building a safer future. The Final Report of the Competence Steering Group for Building a Safer Future, published in October 2020, suggests that: ‘A professional body is an organisation with individual members practising a profession or occupation in which the organisation maintains an oversight of the knowledge, skills, conduct and practice of that profession or occupation. For example, The Institution of Fire Engineers is a Professional body.’

It suggests that a professional commitment is a: ‘Commitment to abide by a code of conduct and professional behaviours that normally includes a requirement to practise ethically, and maintaining and acting within limits of competence.’

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