Jody B. Dow

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


The term "Profession" does not have a consistently applied definition within society. In the military, the ambiguity of the definition places military members in a situation where understanding their professional responsibilities is difficult. This thesis examines the characteristics of traditional professions and draws parallels to the military. This study identifies critical characteristics of professional behavior that military members should be aware of in pursuing professionalism. Data were gathered from academic and popular literature for evaluation. Sufficient evidence exists in literature to identify the factors of special knowledge and service orientation of a profession as critical to professional status. The military, though recognized as a profession in society, may more accurately be represented as a collection of professions or a calling with specific professional authority. Special knowledge is the defining characteristic of traditional professions. The knowledge held by professions is not easily attainable by people outside the profession. Military professional knowledge is not clearly defined. This research identifies several inconsistent definitions of military professional knowledge. Orientation can be self-interest or service to a client or society. Orientation is the defining characteristic of a calling. Professions also exhibit a service orientation. The military has traditionally had a strong service orientation. There are indications, however, that this service orientation may be diminishing within the military today.

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Thesis presented to the Faculty of the Graduate School of Logistics and Acquisitions Management.