Just curious to see how many of you out there are full time professionals in the design field, whether it be self employed or at an agency, or in house, or whether you're doing it for a hobby, student etc.
FT student for the next 5 weeks but been freelancing for 6 years. Only took it serious in the last 4. Realised I wasn't very good so been at uni for the last 3 years. I still have a part time job though so I don't have to stress about making money etc.
It went from hobby to where I'm at now
I can sort of see where Balders is coming from, simply because there are people in our industry that, well, suck at design yet earn money doing it an call themselves "professional graphic designers".
I think it could essentially be a case by case thing. I consider myself a professional in my skill, since I actively practice it and get paid because clients like the work I do and trust me to do what I do best. Though I jokingly refer to myself as a professional doodler, because what I do for a living never feels like work. I guess that's the life goal, isn't it? But I also do work for legitimate organizations that, in turn, offer me lots of exposure that I would have not had had said company not paid for my skills.
I'd go for someone who can earn all of their living from solely designing i.e. a non-league footballer earns money from it, but they are merely semi-professional as they're part-time.
Until there are explicit standards or accreditations then I'm not sure how else you can define professional.
There is, kind of http://www.csd.org.uk/
"The Chartered Society of Designers (CSD) is the professional body for designers and the authority on professional design practice.
It is the world's largest chartered body of professional designers with members in 33 countries and is unique in representing designers in all disciplines.
CSD is governed by Royal Charter supported by the Byelaws and as such its members are required to practice to the highest professional standards."
Maybe you're confusing expert with professional? 10+ years in design industry you could call yourself an expert as more than likely you have encountered a great deal of experience.
If you're employed full time, freelance full time - that is your profession, it pays for you to live.