We sometimes come across comments on social media saying “Document Control is a job, not a profession” or “Document Control is not something you do as a career”.
However, although those comments sometimes come from Document Control professionals who mean well and are actually a bit frustrated with their work place at a certain moment in their career, we would like to emphasize on why we truly believe that Document Control should be considered as a profession, and not just as a job.
Difference between a job and a profession
But first things first: what is the difference between a “job” and a “profession”.
A job is a task or activity, that one does temporarily, for the sole purpose of earning money and paying living expenses. Although it is part of one’s career, it is not a career path and it is likely that, if unhappy with your job, you would move on and find another one, which may or may not be in the same field.
A profession however is a vocation based on specialised training and requires a specialized skillset, that you learn as much in theory (via training course or education) as in practices (throughout your career). A career will consist of, most likely, several positions in the same profession, and one may move on to another work opportunity, but usually in the same field.
What about Document Control? Is it a job or a profession?
There is no doubt that some people who are employed as Document Controllers at the moment have started in Document Control as a simple ‘job’.
Many Document Controllers were doing other jobs before, such as assistant, receptionist, or even engineer. When presented with the opportunity of a Document Control job, they were brave and took it, although at first they might have wondered: what is really expected of me, here?
Although this is a case that we very frequently see, we can also witness every day that many of those who started in Document Control as a “job” to pay the bills have developed a real passion for it, and have actually discovered a true vocation, the career that makes them ’tick’.
Once that step is taken, these individuals will be on a path of becoming a professional: developing their understanding of the tasks and the “why” behind every task and requirement, ensuring that they are working as per the best practices, always striving to learn more and to develop their skillset to the next level. They will also think about the Document Control profession in terms of career and look at developing their knowledge in different industries, work environments, levels of seniority, etc.
Why should we think of Document Control as a profession
One of the commonly used differentiator between a “job” and a “profession” is: “Does it makes a difference, within its environment and within the society?”. And here, we would really advocate that true professional Document Control definitely makes the difference.
It helps saving lives every day on operational sites, constructions sites, yards, plants, planes, ships, etc. By ensuring that people work with only the latest approved documents.
Examples are countless where Document Control made the difference, but also where Document Control saved a company from bankruptcy during an investigation by providing the audit trail of decisions and discussions, or where Document Control helped save the reputation of a Company by stopping a confidential document that was just about to be divulged externally, or where Document Control provided the latest information instantly and allowed engineers to find a solution in a very time-sensitive case for example in a hostage situation, or in a space shuttle emergency.
Of course, if we want to be considered and recognized as professionals, there is a lot for us to do and undertake. The recognition will come as much from ourselves as from our interfaces.
Other blog articles that might interest you:
What is Document Control
Job Description of a Document Controller
Document Controller: A Career Roadmap