“A profession is a vocation founded upon specialized educational training, the purpose of which is to supply objective counsel and service to others, for a direct and definite compensation” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Profession). When we think of professions, the general public thinks of medicine, law, accounting, and hopefully engineering and science. All of these have specialized education (including often leading to advanced degrees).
By extension, a professional society is an organization of professionals coming together for a common purpose – to advance their fields, to develop standards and canons of ethics, and to exchange and advance knowledge. At this time of year, membership renewals are do, and it is interesting to look at the organizations I am a member of and to assess which are truly professional organizations.
What is interesting about environmental engineering is that we have many organizations — and depending on the field of the individual, one will be a member of different baskets of these. The true professional organizations that I find myself in membership in include:
- Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors (http://aeesp.org/)
- Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists (http://www.aaees.org/)
- American Society of Civil Engineers (http://www.asce.org/)
- International Water Association (http://www.iwahq.org/1nb/home.html)
- Society for Risk Analysis (http://sra.org/)
- American Society for Microbiology (http://www.asm.org/)
- American Chemical Society (http://www.acs.org/content/acs/en.html)
All of the above have members, committees, sub-entities, and leadership clearly dominated by those who are true professionals in the sense above, and all publish significant journals and publications that clearly are aimed at transmitting and advancing knowledge at a high level. Attending any of these meetings will be a learning experience for members, students, and those seeking to expand into another field.