Colonel (Ret.) Sean Hannah, Ph.D., wrote an article for the Thayer Leader Development Group at West Point titled 'Toward a Noble Profession' that provides a essential characteristics of a profession.
"A business, or a specific field of business, cannot simply declare itself to be a profession. Professions are granted status only when they earn it from the constituents and society they serve. It is society, not the aspiring profession, who will determine whether business is a profession. They will do so based on the legitimacy and trustworthiness earned by the profession through its actions and practices and the value it provides to constituent parties and society.
All professions have a dual nature—a bureaucratic nature that seeks to sustain and manage the daily operations of the profession efficiently and a professional nature, grounded in a pursuit of excellence, integrity, and effectiveness."