What is professional education?

A professional education prepares students with the disciplined insight and expertise required–beyond vocational or technical education–to become doctors, lawyers or other “white collar” professionals.


Professional education is a scholastic system that prepares beginners for highly skilled occupations, such as law, medicine and engineering, through theory and practice. The learning process ultimately leads to becoming certified, licensed or receiving some other formal credential.



Rather than ending upon graduation, professional education is a lifelong process for the professional to remain current in the latest techniques and research of his or her field. For example, physicians must regularly read medical journals and attend seminars.

Time Frame

The time it takes to receive a professional education depends upon the profession. To become a doctor, it typically takes four years of premed to earn a bachelor’s degree, four years to graduate from medical school, and as much as four years of internship, depending upon the medical specialty.


According to the Harvard Business School article, “Is Business Management a Profession?” occupations requiring a professional education have at least four things in common: (1) A common body of knowledge based upon an organized system of learning and instruction. (2) A system that certifies individuals who possess such knowledge before being licensed or allowed to practice; (3) publicly avowing or professing to use specialized knowledge for the community. (4) A code of ethics, with substantial self-regulation.


Traditional professions requiring professional education include law, medicine and theology. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics also lists teachers, engineers, computer and mathematical specialists and architects among today’s professional occupations.


Maine’s Department of Education

Common Misconceptions About Career Management

Is Business Management a Profession?

More Information:

Bureau of Labor Statistics