At the very basic level, a professional is someone who has undergone specialized training for a certain vocation. However, a professional is not solely defined by this attribute but also by his adherence to certain values and behavior that are inherent in the particular profession. This is because every professional group has a code of conduct which stipulates what is admissible behavior within the profession.
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A professional is required to align himself/herself to these values and constantly aim to exhibit certain principles and responsibilities which are desired in the particular profession. Professional ethics are stipulated by professional bodies which endorse the code of ethics that professionals in a certain field should adhere to.
Ethics can loosely be defined as a system of moral principles by which social conduct is judged as either “right” or “wrong”. As such, ethics are moral principles which prescribe what legitimate behavior in varied dealings is. On the other hand, Values are what professionals judge to be right and they are obtained from a higher authority than the individual; for example, the government or the society (Bagad, 2007).
These values and ethics act as the standard for the professional and take precedence over other qualities therefore dictating the manner in which an individual may act in particular instances. While professional values and ethics may vary from profession to profession, they are of utmost important for they define standards that are to be expected from the professional. Professional values and ethics are not only desirable but mandatory for the success of the organization or setting in which the professional applies himself.
Sources of Professional Values
One profession which has well established ethics and values is the teaching profession. These ethical issues are enshrined in the “National Educational Associations” code of ethics which prescribes what is considered to be good behaviour for a teaching professional (NEA, 2010).
These ethical values for teachers are based on the underlying principles of commitment to the student and commitment to the teaching profession that every member of the teaching practice is meant to ascribe to. From the NEA code, teachers are able to obtain the standard code of proper conduct for the teaching profession as well as ideals that regulate their conduct therefore leading to professionalism.
Bagad, V. S. (2007). Professional Ethics & Human Values. Technical Publications.
NEA. (2010). Code of Ethics. Retrieved from: www.nea.org