What does it mean to be a profession? It means that one takes re-sponsibility in some respect for the good of another person; that the work undertaken is performed by norms of responsibility set for the health of the work as a whole, as an institutional process; and most especially that one is called to provide this special kind of service to another and, as one called, has become accountable. Each of these characteristics of a profession do not look to maximal financial returns but to what will preserve the integrity of the relationships, personal and institutional, that a profession requires. The calling that constitutes a profession-the profession of a physician, the profession of the ministry, the profession of a teacher, the profession of a lawyer-consists in a personal recognition that one has abilities that fit one specially for the performance of the service. For those who believe in God it is a recognition, a personal acknowledgment, of gifts from the Creator, a recognition and acknowledgment of what the evangelical parable calls talents that must be accounted for. The calling is not self-selection; it is a response to an invitation from the Master.
To profess in its root sense is to make a public declaration of faith; a profession is such a declaration of faith.
-John T. Noonan