TEACHER CORNER | What does it mean to be a professional?

by Marigrace C. Monte

Being a professional means more than donning business attire or having a position at an institution or company.

It means more than having an office or even your own cubicle or table on which you are assigned to accomplish work.

Rather, being a professional means having the competence, skills, and knowledge needed to carry out the responsibilities of a professional.

Furthermore, it means having the right behavior and attitude in accomplishing day-to-day tasks.


Competence means the ability to do something successfully. In the workplace, this means having on hand the skills and knowledge necessary for the job.

A mastery of the principles related to the career is not only necessary but also crucial, if one were to accomplish one’s tasks efficiently.

Further, it also means keeping oneself up-to-date with developments in the field.

It means not being reliant on knowledge acquired decades ago, but being abreast of ever-changing information.

It likewise means researching about the best practices in the industry, and constantly trying to find better ways of doing things.

This is recommended even if older methods have proven successful.

In a world that is constantly discovering ways to automate and digitize processes, for example, it is useful to learn how to not only use a computer but also to know how to best use the machine to speed up work and make processes more efficient.

This openness to learn, and the humility that one does not know everything, is a good trait that professionals must keep in check, whether they have been working for only a year or over ten years in the industry.


Apart from having mastery of the information necessary in the industry, one also needs good attitude to match.

This includes having organizational and communication skills, knowing the value of honesty, integrity, and punctuality, and having self-discipline and self-motivation as regards work.

This also covers one’s adaptability, leadership, decision-making, and the ability to work under pressure and in less-than-optimal conditions.

It is also advised for professionals to have creativity and critical thinking skills, some level of marketing skills, as well as problem-solving skills.

These behaviors and skills are what most employers look for, not because they are the norm, but because possessing them often leads to success in a professional setting.

Some believe possessing good behavior is more important than knowledge, because the latter can be learned if one has the right attitude.

A healthy balance, however, between the two, is recommended for everyone who intends to be a professional.

To reiterate, one is a professional not because one has a job. The sad truth is: many employees, even those who have been at their positions for many years, fail miserably when put to tests of professionalism. This is likely because they have either never internalized what it means to be one, or they have been so disillusioned as workers that they no longer seek to improve themselves.

It is my wish that all workers strive to become professionals so that they function to the best of their ability, and contribute the best that they can to the community.

All these considered, would you say you are a professional?