Traditionally, a ‘Professional‘ is someone who earns their income from their speciialist knowledge and/or experience, skill or training. There will normally be a standard of competency reached or educational achievement usually by exam to gain appropriate or relevant qualifications.
This is different compared to a worker, hobbyist or amateur without specific formal education. While this meaning still has significance today, a “Professional” has a broader meaning, typically around some moral or ethical foundation within the practice of a specific and usually established expertise.
The Australian Council of Professions defines a ‘Profession‘ as:
A Profession is a disciplined group of individuals who adhere to ethical standards and who hold themselves out as, and are accepted by the public as possessing special knowledge and skills in a widely recognised body of learning derived from research, education and training at a high level, and who are prepared to apply this knowledge and exercise these skills in the interest of others. It is inherent in the definition of a Profession that a code of ethics governs the activities of each Profession. Such codes require behaviour and practice beyond the personal moral obligations of an individual. They define and demand high standards of behaviour in respect to the services provided to the public and in dealing with professional colleagues. Further, these codes are enforced by the Profession and are acknowledged and accepted by the community.
Australian Council of Professions, 2003