Should IT workers strive to become “professionals?”
There are certainly benefits to being considered a member of a profession.
More clearly defined roles, better guidelines on how the job should be done, and
higher status are a few of them.
On the other hand, there are also drawbacks associated with the professional
model. Increased civil liability is one – a “professional” is held
to high standards, and it seems that in today’s litigious society, members of
the professions are high profile targets – professional liability insurance
(such as the medical malpractice insurance physicians must maintain) is a huge
expense that has become an absolute necessity.
Government regulation, another characteristic of most professions, is also a
worrisome prospect in a business where freedom to innovate has been the driving
force since its inception. Although mandatory licensing of IT professionals
might raise the quality of work, and provide for a certain amount of job
security for those who are licensed, do we really want the government to
dictate who can or can’t hang out a shingle and pursue the modern American (and
world-wide) dream of making it big in the computer industry? Should a talented
young networking whiz be required to obtain a computer science degree before he
can practice his craft/trade/profession or whatever the heck IT is?
Will the “professionalization” of the IT industry hurt or help us
as individuals? Will it truly benefit the industry itself? These are questions
we need to ask, as IT work struggles out of its infancy into an uneasy
adolescence. The answers are not easy or clear-cut.
It may be that the traditional professional model will never be a comfortable
fit. As with so many other things, technology may re-define the professional