Differences between Trade and Profession – Concept and examples

We explain what are the differences between trade and profession, the types of knowledge they require and examples of each.

differences between trade and profession
Practice helps learning a trade, but theoretical training is the base for the profession as well

What are the differences between a trade and a profession?

Very often the terms trade and profession are used interchangeably, as if they were synonymous. And they can be, for practical purposes but, in reality, they respond to very different ideas. To understand this difference, we must first understand the origin of each of these words.

Of both, trade’s direct sibling, “office” (to officiate) is the oldest, and comes from Latin officcium, result of the union of two different voices: opus (“Work”) and facere, (“To do”), that is, the things that one does, the works that one can accomplish. This term was used to distinguish between the things that a person literally knew how to do: make shoes (shoemaker), make furniture with wood (carpenter), cure the sick (healer), go to war (soldier), and so on. The term “trade” itself has German origins and it must have had the same origins with “track”, talking about ship routes. But the current understanding is that of a job as a business.

In ancient society, these tasks were learned from a young age and directly, sharing with a family member who knew them or acting as an apprentice to those who mastered them. That is the trades were transmitted from generation to generation through sheer practice. This term was closely related to that of opifex, “Craftsman”.

Instead, the word profession comes from Latin professio, translatable as “career” or “occupation”. It began to be used in the Middle Ages, after the emergence of the first universities, in which specialized knowledge was imparted.

In a mostly illiterate world, those who knew how to read and write were part of a knowledge elite, and had access to knowledge and reflections that the common people were unaware of, and that required cultivation in a specialized environment. A) Yes, those who have a specialized level of instruction in an area are known as professionals.

Hence the fundamental difference between a trade and a profession: the former can be learned through practice, while the latter require specialized learning. This means that the former are available to everyone (which does not mean that everyone does it equally well), while the latter are typical of those who had access to specialized training.

Of course, the lines that separate the two categories are not always clear and evident, and there are cases that tend to remain somewhere in the middle, or that are difficult to classify, such as that of some artists and artisans. But in general, these differences can be summarized as follows:

They are tasks that are learned directly, through practice, and therefore are available to anyone, although not with the same level of expertise.They are knowledge that is learned through specialized education and that is not available to everyone.
It usually refers to manual or artisan work, in which something is created or something is repaired with the hands and with the help of tools.The term is usually reserved for a set of complex knowledge and thoughts, of a different nature, generally of a technical and / or university level.
It does not require specialized prior knowledge, but rather strength, skill or talent. Their training is informal, it does not require degrees.It requires a prior educational background, both basic and typical of the profession itself. Their training is formal, and this is certified by a degree or diploma.
They capitalize on the time, effort and materials used.They capitalize on the specialized knowledge that has been acquired, and not just effort.

Finally, these differences are evident if we think that someone’s trade and profession may not coincide at all: a person can train as an architect and end up in a twist of fate as a taxi driver, for example, but not because of this will lose the specialized knowledge that you already acquired.

Examples of trade and profession

A person in whose house there is a plumbing problem is able to deal with it to some extent using his own tools and the basic knowledge gained by watching his father do similar tasks.

His work may be crude, clumsy or poor, but he is able to cope with the trade to some extent. Of course, if you call a plumber, that is, to someone who handles the job properly, the job will be much better. But by asking at the hardware store, you may be able to fix it yourself.

On the other hand, if the emergency were not plumbing but medical, let’s say, a very strong pain in the chest, the same person would have no choice but to contact a medical professional, that is, someone who handles specialized knowledge and extensive training sufficient to recognize a specific ailment in its symptoms and deduce a probable solution.

In fact, if they are to operate it, the Surgeon You will know how to do it because you will have studied the various branches of medicine, and that is something that cannot be learned simply by practicing.

According to this logic, they are examples of trades: craftsman, shoemaker, jeweler, watchmaker, hairdresser, plumber, mechanic, sweeper, cleaning staff, gardener, laborer, hunter, fisherman, bartender, driver, watchman, doorman, weaver, etc.

Instead, they are examples of professions: doctor, chemist, biologist, teacher, architect, engineer, art critic, veterinarian, astronomer, graphic designer, fashion designer, dentist, nuclear physicist, agronomist, psychologist, geographer, sociologist, etc.