What Is a Professional Qualification? Definition and Career Advice

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 30 August 2021

Professional qualifications are essential in various career fields to gain work opportunities, advance to senior positions and receive salary increases and benefits. By understanding the time and effort necessary for obtaining a professional qualification and the job benefits it can bring, you can decide if getting that credential is likely to suit your long-term career plans. In this article, we answer what is a professional qualification, including why you might need it, what its benefits are, how it differs from an academic qualification and what career options you can explore with a professional qualification.

What is a professional qualification?

A professional qualification means an advanced vocational credential that provides you with specialised training in a specific profession. Since some types of professional qualifications require candidates to undergo extensive training and pass difficult examinations, many employers accept these credentials as equivalents of a bachelor's degree, a master's degree or a doctorate. Some employers may additionally require you to have several years of relevant work experience.

Why do you need a professional qualification?

You might need a professional qualification for these reasons:

  • It is a legal requirement to work in medicine, management, engineering, law and other fields.

  • It can help you gain professional recognition in your field.

  • Professional qualifications can enable you to obtain memberships from professional bodies or organisations.

  • It can guide you to participating in continuing professional development and update your skills, abilities and knowledge.

  • A professional qualification may show employers that you have the specialist knowledge for a position, which can make more work opportunities available to you.

Related: Career Objective: Definition, How to and Examples

What are the benefits of a professional qualification?

Some benefits of a professional qualification include:

  • Improved skills: By earning a professional qualification, you can improve your existing skills and gain new ones that are in demand in your field.

  • Better job opportunities: A professional qualification can help advance your career since it is an eligibility requirement for many senior roles and job positions that traditionally pay more money.

  • Competitive career advantage: Even if some jobs do not require a professional qualification, it may give you a competitive advantage as employers may find you better qualified for the position than other candidates.

  • Increased earning potential: The additional skills and training you get with a professional qualification can make you eligible for well-paying jobs that can enhance your earning potential.

  • More work satisfaction: With a professional qualification, more career opportunities may become available to you and you can choose fulfilling work that gives you a sense of accomplishment.

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What are some examples of professional qualifications?

Some examples of professional qualifications include:

  • Computer science courses: If you are interested in a career in computer science, consider getting a Bachelor of Computer Application (BCA) or a Master of Computer Application (MCA).

  • Education courses: A Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.) or a Master of Education (M.Ed.) are often essential professional qualifications to work as an educator.

  • Fine arts courses: If you enjoy being creative, consider earning a Diploma in Fine Arts, a Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) or a Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.).

  • Engineering courses: For an engineering career, it is usually necessary to complete a Bachelor of Engineering (B.E.), a Master of Engineering (M.E.), a Bachelor of Technology (B. Tech.) or a Master of Technology (M.Tech) program.

  • Architecture courses: Obtain a Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch.) or a Master of Architecture (M.Arch.) degree to work in the architecture field.

  • Management courses: You can complete a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) or a Master of Business Administration (MBA) to work in the management field.

  • Finance courses: To work in the financial sector, it can help to have a Bachelor of Commerce (B.Com.), a Master of Commerce (M.Com.).

  • Dental courses: To become a dentist, you must complete a Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) or a Master of Dental Surgery (MDS) degree program.

  • Pharmacy courses: Pharmacy professionals must have a Bachelor of Pharmacy (B.Pharm.) or a Master of Pharmacy (M.Pharm.) degree.

Related: How To List Certifications on a Resume (With Examples)

Is a GCSE a professional qualification?

A GCSE is an academic qualification that you can take in a particular subject like English, mathematics, science, art or history. GCSE is the acronym for General Certificate of Secondary Education, which students take in England, Wales and Northern Ireland as a prerequisite to a school leaving certificate. International students can take the IGCSE. With a GCSE or an IGCSE, you may become eligible for a vocational course or an entry-level job position.

What is the difference between an academic and professional qualification?

The differences between an academic and professional qualification are as follows:

  • An academic qualification focuses on theoretical application, while a professional qualification is concerned with practical application.

  • An academic qualification enables you to research a specific subject, while a professional qualification offers you the training to work in a specific field.

  • While those with an academic qualification may apply it to different careers, individuals with a professional qualification usually work in a specific career.

How do I get a professional qualification?

You can get a professional qualification by considering your interests and researching the available options. Learn about the eligibility criteria for the courses and their duration, syllabus, fees and career possibilities. Check if they require in-person attendance or you can do them online. Shortlist the programs that suit your educational qualifications, career ambitions and budget, location and time expectations. Enrol in the selected course and try to complete it with high marks.

Related: Functional Resumes: Tips, Steps, Sample and Advantages

Which jobs require professional qualifications?

The professional qualification list includes the following jobs:

1. Lawyer

National average salary: ₹20,653 per month

Primary duties: Lawyers advise and assist individuals and businesses in legal matters related to civil and criminal proceedings. Their primary duties may vary according to their legal specialisation. Generally, lawyers are responsible for researching legal code, interpreting legal terms, explaining legal rights to clients, advising clients on taking specific legal courses of action and preparing legal documents. They may attend court hearings, represent their clients in court trials, collect and present evidence and make forceful arguments to support their clients.

2. Primary care physician

National average salary: ₹20,494 per month

Primary duties: Also known as general practitioners or family doctors, primary care physicians have the medical training to handle a wide range of health concerns in patients of all age groups. They interview patients, perform physical examinations, diagnose and treat injuries and illnesses and prescribe and administer medications. Physicians do follow-up examinations, offer preventive care advice and maintain patient medical history records. They may provide healthcare education and supervise other medical professionals, such as nurses and medical assistants.

3. Surgeon

National average salary: ₹42,345 per month

Primary duties: As highly trained medical professionals, surgeons are responsible for diagnosing health issues and injuries, advising patients on their medical treatment options and performing surgeries to help improve a patient;s health. They also provide postoperative surgical care. Surgeons collaborate with a surgical team consisting of other medical professionals like nurses and anaesthesiologists. Many surgeons specialise in specific areas such as neurosurgery, orthopaedics, plastic surgery, cardiology and thoracic surgery.

4. Certified public accountant

National average salary: ₹46,976 per month

Primary duties: A certified public accountant (CPA) has the professional qualification to provide auditing, accounting, bookkeeping, taxation and other financial services to individuals, small businesses and large organisations. CPAs may use information technology to gather financial data, organise and analyse financial information and create financial reports and budgets. They may offer financial advice to their clients and help them make informed financial decisions regarding starting a business, making business expenditures, choosing investments, purchasing property, saving for their child's education and planning for retirement.

5. Anaesthesiologist

National average salary: ₹83,330 per month

Primary duties: An anaesthesiologist is responsible for sedating a patient or injecting local anaesthesia to numb specific body parts before a surgical procedure. Before giving anaesthesia to patients, the anaesthesiologist assesses the patient's health and makes sure they do not suffer from any allergies or conditions that might produce an adverse reaction to anaesthesia. They also monitor the patient's vitals, such as breathing, heart rate and rhythm, blood pressure, body temperature and fluid balance before, during and after the surgery. After the procedure, the anaesthesiologist often monitor's the patient's recovery and offers pain management advice.

6. Dermatologist

National average salary: ₹68,168 per month

Primary duties: Dermatologists can specialise in medical, surgical and cosmetic dermatology. They offer consultations to patients, provide screening tests and perform skin examinations. After diagnosing skin conditions like acne, sunburn and skin cancer, they prescribe the appropriate medication and treatment procedures for these ailments. They may perform skin therapy treatment or non-intrusive skin surgery and carry out cosmetic procedures like microdermabrasion, filler injections, laser hair removal and skin tightening. They may refer patients to other skin specialists, conduct basic or clinical research on skin conditions, write research papers, attend medical conferences and stay updated on the latest medical developments.