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Communications of the ACM

Communications of the ACM

Professionalism in the computing field

The term professional means different things to different people; nevertheless, there are certain general technical and social standards normally associated with a professional. Further, the term is more generally applied to the practitioner rather than to the researcher. But within the rather broad definition specified, the computing practitioner is, as yet, not regarded as a professional. Each of the four types of institutions—academic, industry, government, and the professional society—that educate, employ, regulate, and mold the practitioner contributes to the “nonprofessional” status of the computing practitioner. The roles of these institutions are examined, various shortcomings are noted, and recommended changes are suggested. In the last analysis, professional status is not bestowed; it is earned. However, universities and industry, specifically, can make certain improvements to help the computing practitioner achieve professional status.

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