Curious – Design as a Profession

I’ve been pondering this question for awhile and I’d just like to put it out there …

Is design a profession? 

I’d be anxious to read responses …


  1. ankitkhare

    I think a profession is where some one makes a living out of what he/she is good at and practices continuously. So i think design is a profession 🙂

  2. laurabrunetti

    Since you haven’t articulated your ponderings on the subject, I’m not exactly sure how you’re defining “design” and “profession.”

  3. Bob Molnar

    I was thinking more along the lines of comparing design to some established professions like law, medicine, or teaching. In the traditional sense, many people define a profession as one in which an occupation possesses a specialized body of knowledge and formalized qualifications, which are codified by some centralized body. Additionally, I find that many traditional professions include a study of applied ethics as part of their specialized body of knowledge. Granted, design as we currently practice it, does not seem to fit that definition. But, are we moving in that direction? Should we?

  4. Aaron H

    This is a hard question as the notion of profession even as you clarified it, is not very clear, i.e. people argue about this question all the time. Even seeing this as a sliding scale where something is more professional or less professional may not be the most useful distinction if we haven’t decided what we mean by professions.

    If we take the definition of profession to mean a group of people who have mastery of an esoteric body of knowledge, and that the practice of that profession is regulated by law to those who have been accepted by a self-governing body, then clearly no we are not a profession as you alluded.

    Still taking the same definition, I do not see design as becoming a profession in the foreseeable future.

  5. Wodom

    yes, design is a lot of things and one of those things is a profession. arguably, it became a profession when, among other things, the industrial revolution helped usher in a shift from craft to professional design practice(s), which continue to evolve today. donald schon has written at length about the nature of professional practice, the ongoing reflective and critical competence (and dialog) it takes to engage in professional practice, etc.. I would suggest checking out his work if you’re interested in the subject (probably “The Reflective Practitioner” would be a good starting place). Also, David Pye’s book “The Nature and Aesthetics of Design” offers a thoughtful look at the transition from craft to design and it’s ensuing implications. And of course there’s this guy Stolterman that’s written a few things on the subject…..

  6. staleybridge

    i’ve always thought of design as and act …not as a profession. yes it depends on the noun/verb dilemma for some but to me design is the culmination of ideation, conceptual abstraction and magic fairies that dance about while putting pen to paper. (kidding on the last part)


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