Professional identity involves at least partially answering the question ‘who am I?’.
For a professional it is how you perceive yourself in relation to your profession and your membership of that profession.
Identity is created through beliefs and attitudes, values, motives and experiences through which you define yourself, in your professional life.
It is associated with status and esteem, mastery and sense of belonging.
The development of your professional identity is influenced by the constantly changing social, economic, technological, and employment contexts within society, work and your profession.
You are more likely to want to pursue a professional group membership which is perceived to attribute status of the profession, which aligns with employment opportunities and income.
Why is Professional Identity Important?
Professional identity allows an individual to feel a sense of belonging and membership and become part of a group that has defined themselves based on characteristics of their profession.
People who have developed a strong professional identity have greater success in developing mastery of a professional discipline. Mastery means being more productive because processes are streamlined, and you can produce high quality work.
In many cases being a member of a profession is a hurdle (or barrier) to certain positions, career paths and promotion opportunities and being able to undertake challenging work and have a degree of autonomy.
Being a member of a profession can result in careers with potential economic and social benefits — sustainable income and status and quality of work life, as well as protecting your future career that may be challenged by outsourcing and offshoring work.
Being a professional is an occupational strategy which enables an individual to obtain power and rewards associated with technical expertise, with the likelihood that job security, autonomy, and socioeconomic status will increase