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What does it mean to be a professional?

Professionals work in a specialized field of study that requires preparation and adherence to principles and standards. Being a professional is more than calling oneself a professional or working in a profession. Being a professional requires preparation, ethical standards, and excellence in practice. Click here to access a summary of research about professional development.

What does being a professional mean?

Being a professional is hard work. It requires personal and professional commitment, lifelong learning, getting up early and staying late. It means being recognized for your achievements and compensated for your knowledge and skills.

Professional soldiers prepare for war constantly for the wars they hope they never have to fight. Professional actors and musicians rehearse for weeks and months for a precious few minutes in the spotlight. Professional athletes prepare their whole lives for the game under the lights. Legal and medical professionals study for the years the privilege to serve in their field. Teachers attend school throughout their careers to maintain their credentials. (T.Reilly, 2003)

Be professional. If we reflect on the characteristics of a professional, it’s easy to see what someone needs to do to be an early childhood professional.

Be dedicated, hardworking and passionate. That translates into going “above and beyond” in everything you do, planning ahead, exploring best practices and trying new ideas.

Be knowledgeable about early care and education. This includes increasing your education, working in the field and participating in on-going professional development. Professionals are never “done” learning; there are always new ideas, strategies and techniques, not just in early childhood, but in any field.

Be career-oriented. Being part of a profession means commitment to your filed – including setting personal and professional goals, planning your own professional development, joining a professional association, mentoring your peers and educating others about the needs of children and families.

Excerpt from http://www.auburnpub.com/articles/2008/03/14/lake_life/lakelife05.txt

Three Key Features of Lifelong Education

First, lifelong education is seen as building upon and affecting all existing educational providers, including both schools and institutions of higher education….Second, it extends beyond the formal education providers to encompass all agencies, groups and individuals involved in any kind of learning activity….Third, it tests on the belief that individuals are, or can become self-directing, and that they will see the value in engage in in lifelong education. (Tight 1996:36)

The links below provide you with information that will help you learn more about becoming a professional and being part of a profession that includes a specialized body of knowledge, a set of skills, a group mission or identify and standards of behavior and practice.

What do all these terms and acronyms mean?

Access a regularly updated gloassary of terms here.

What codes of ethical conduct guide my behavior and practice?

What standards and guidelines direct or frame the services I provide?

What resources are available to help me plan my career and seek employment?

  • Planning Tools

    (scroll down and find on this page of current site: http://www.ncicdp.org/pubsprov.html)

  •  Employment Links

  • National Employment Listing
  • NC Listing of CCR&R Agencies:
  • Early Educator Positions (working with children and/or directing programs)

  • Employment Security Commission
  • Faculty & Administrative Positions in Higher Education
  • NC Department of Public Instruction
  • NC Division of Child Development
  • NC Partnership for Children & Smart Start Partnerships
  • NC State Government Job Vacancies
  • How do I become a certified Early Educator?

    Learn more about Early Educator Certification here. Download application materials here.

    How do I keep track of my education and professional growth?

    Coming soon – Electronic Portfolios

    What leadership opportunities are available for Early Educators?

  • Early Childhood Policy & Leadership Network
  • NC Afterschool Coalition (NCASC)
  • NC Association for the Education of Young Children (NCaeyc)
  • NC Child Care Coalition (affiliated with NCECA)
  • NC Association of Directors of Development Day Programs
  • NC Birth to Kindergarten Higher Education Consortium (2010 Chair: Diane Strangis (strangis@meredith.edu)
  • NC Community College Early Childhood Faculty Association (2009/10 Chair: rogriffin@albemarle.edu)
  • NC Early Childhood Association (NCECA)
  • NC Head Start Association
  • NC Institute for Child Development Professionals
  • How do I open my own early care and education program?

    How does my program pursue achieving the highest quality level through accreditation?

  • Accreditation for Family Child Care Homes
      National Association for Family Child Care
      The National Association for Family Child Care is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting quality child care by strengthening the profession of family child care.
  • FAQ on NAFCC Accreditation
  • © 2010 NC Institute for Child Development Professionals, PO Box 959, Chapel Hill, NC 27514 dtorrence@ncicdp.org