Criteria Making Teaching a Profession


The development of teaching as a profession in Nigeria should be considered from the standpoint of the first criteria of a profession, which are Training and Certification.

The truth is that proficiency in every art – whether it be painting, music, or teaching – involves training, but also needs more than training. Training cannot produce genius, but genius can profit from training.

Teaching has its techniques as much as any other art and the process of acquiring those techniques is training (Jeffrey, 1971) Training is part of the professional preparation of teachers for their job.

The status

The status of the teaching profession in society to some extent depends upon the individual teacher, his self-esteem, and how he performs his role.

To categorize teaching as a profession, we must try to apply the criteria by which occupation is judged as a profession.

We must establish the degree to which teaching meets these criteria and consider some of the barriers to the professional advancement of teaching (Eric Hoyle, 1969)

The criteria

Everret C. Hughes (1958) has stated that the term profession is a symbol for the desired conception of one’s work and hence, of one’s self.

In his book on teaching as a profession, Lieberman (1956) offers eight criteria for an occupation to be called a profession.

The following criteria listed by Hoyle (1969) which are similar to Lieberman’s will be used for discussion in this section.

  • A profession performs an essential social service
  • A profession is founded upon a systematic body of knowledge
  • A profession requires a lengthy period of academic and practical training
  • A profession has a high degree of autonomy
  • A profession has a code of ethics
  • A professional generates growth-service growth
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A profession performs essential social service

There is no doubt that teaching fully meets this criterion, for education is a social service. The service that education performs is essential to the individual child who could not be fully socialized in an industrial society if he did not spend a lengthy period in full-time formal education.

A profession is founded upon a systematic body of knowledge

This means that a profession is not merely concerned with the exercise of some that, but a skill that has an intellectual foundation. The intellectual foundations of teaching include both subject matter knowledge and knowledge of educational theory and pedagogy.

A profession requires a lengthy period of academic and practical training

Training and certification are essential parts of a profession. Periods of long training are needed to develop specialists and technicians in any profession.

There must be some specification of the nature of the training either through state regulation of some sort or through a system of accrediting training institutions.

Training includes the nature and content of professional education, certification standards and practices, and placement (Finn, 1fulfills

Teaching certainly fulfills this criterion, but the teacher’s period of training is not as long as that required for doct, ,ors, lawyers, architects and some other professionals.

A profession has a high degree of autonomy

As Eric Hoyle (1969) has noted, the notion of professional autonomy covers two different but related factors: the autonomy of the individual practitioner to make decisions in the interest of his clients and the autonomy of the profession as a whole to make decisions about its modes of operations.

The individual teacher has some degree of autonomy over the work which he does with his pup head teachers monitored by head teachers and also to a greater or lesser degree by inspectors of education.

Such monitoring of the teachers’ work is carried out largely by otherlaymentionalists and not by layman. Thufulfillsome an extent, teaching fulfils the criterion of individual autonomy.

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A profession has a code of ethics

The code of ethics indicates how members of the profession should behave aa. However, the publication of code of ethics and manuals of standards in itself guarantees nothing.

Professionalization occurs when enforcement is possible and vigorous (Finn, 1954, p. 12an an an ). The code, usually prescribe appropriate relationship between practitioner and client to protect the client, and between the practitioners themselves for their mutual protection.

The government in concert with the National Union of Teachers has several codes, which defines a number of forms of unprofessional behavior. It is also concerned with protecting the teacher and the union.

However, in the absence of a professionally – controlled licensing body in education such as a code act in most cases as a guide to conduct but cannot be enforced. Meanwhile, the employer can terminate a teacher’s appointment anyhow.

A profession generates in-service growth

Hoyle (1959) noted that because a profession is founded upon a body of knowledge and skill, which is constantly changing an important criterion is that it should foster the in-service growth of its practitioners.

The in-service training of teachers by constituted,authorities in Nigeria (local, state and federal) has not been rapidly growing as one expert. The authority rarely sent teachers for courses, conferences, workshops, and training sessions.

Many teachers on their own have been solely responsible for upgrading their knowledge, through part-time and Sandwich courses, though approvals are usually sort and obtained from recruitment authority.

Acknowledgement as a profession

The member of a profession must believe that there is a professional and that they are members of it. The existence of a profession cannot be mandated or trusted upon practitioners. They must acknowledge that they are members of the profession.

The acknowledgement is manifested by the presence of the other characteristics of a profession must be concerned about the uses to which its work is put in a society.

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It must continuously examine the values for which it stands and, if appropriate take positions on societal issues affected by its work (AECT, 1972)

In Nigeria, the teaching profession has to a large extent attained most of the criteria for a profession. In recent time, the Federal Government has accepted in principles, that the Nigeria Certificate in Education (NCE) shall be the minimum entry qualification into the teaching profession.

Also, a National Register of Teachers is currently being compiled by the National Teachers Institute on behalf of Teachers’ Council which is yet to be established.


As law, engineering, medicine, science professions are recognized, teaching must also be recognized as a profession even more than the professions we mentioned earlier. The reason is that teachers produce lawyers, doctors, engineers, nurses, pilots, etc.


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