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Understanding your sector
Understanding your sector

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1 What are professional and sector bodies and what do they do?

Described image
Figure 1

In Week 1, profession was defined as ‘a paid occupation, especially one that involves prolonged training and a formal qualification’. Think of doctors, accountants, architects, teachers, engineers and others. These are all regulated by law and typically by a professional body.

Sometimes known as professional organisations, associations or even societies, professional bodies exist primarily to further the interests of that profession and of individuals within it, and to defend the public interest. They oversee professional practice and often have an important role in monitoring and maintaining professional standards, together with developing and awarding professional qualifications. They may also have an important regulatory role in making sure that professionals are doing their jobs properly and in investigating complaints against their members.

Very often, membership of the appropriate professional body is necessary for an individual to practice in that field; a good example of this in the UK is the Law Society, to which all solicitors must belong before they can practice.

Activity 1 Identifying professional bodies

Timing: Allow about 5 minutes

Think of as many professional bodies as you can from your own experience. You may already belong to one, know someone who does, or have been provided with professional services by a member. This happens every time you go to the doctor or dentist! See if you can come up with at least five.

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There are well over 200 professional bodies in the UK alone, covering most areas of employment or professional practice.

Here are a few of the more commonly known ones:

Professional bodyProfessional body

Association of British Travel Agents

Association of MBAs

Association of Taxation Technicians

British Horse Society

Chartered Banker Institute

Chartered Institute of Journalists

Chartered Institute of Linguists

College of Teaching

Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales

Institution of Chemical Engineers

Institution of Civil Engineers

Institution of Mechanical Engineers

The Law Society

Royal College of Nursing

Royal College of General Practitioners

And here are a few possibly less well-known ones:

Professional bodyProfessional body

British Guild of Travel Writers

Institute of Asphalt Technology

Institute of Corrosion

Institute of Groundsmanship

Institute of Tourist Guiding

Royal British Society of Sculptors

Is your job regulated by a professional body? If so, this could be a good starting point for your research and could help you with the activities that occur later this week.