#1 Initial Professional Education
Professionals generally begin their professional lives by completing a university program in their chosen fields – law school, medical school, engineering school, and so on.
University programs are accredited by oversight bodies that determine whether the programs provide adequate education. Accreditation assures that graduates from accredited programs start their professional lives with the knowledge they need to perform effectively. The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) oversees engineering programs.
#3 Skills Development
For most professions, education alone is not sufficient to develop full professional capabilities. Nascent professionals need practice applying their knowledge before they are prepared to take primary responsibility for performing work in their fields. Physicians have a three-year residency. Certified public accountants (CPAs) must work one year for a board-approved organization before receiving their licenses. Professional engineers must have at least four years of work experience. Requiring some kind of apprenticeship assures that people who enter a profession have practive performing work at a satisfactory level of competence.
After completion of education and skills development, a professional is required to pass one or more exams that assure the person has attained a minimum level of knowledge. Doctors take board exams. Accountants take CPA exams. Professional engineers take a Fundamentals of Engineering exam at college graduation time and then take an engineering specialty exam about four years later. Some professions require recertification from time to time.
Licensing is similar to certification except that it is mandatory instead of voluntary and is administered by a governmental authority. [Only licensed professionals can be found guilty of malpractice, but following generally accepted