A professional body
or professional organization
is an organisation, usually non-profit
, that exists to further a particular profession, to protect both the public interest and the interests of professionals. The balance between these two may be a matter of opinion. One the one hand, professional bodies act to protect the public by maintaining and enforcing standards of training and ethics in their profession. On the other hand, they may also act like a cartel
or a labor union
(trade union) for the members of the profession, though this description is commonly rejected by the body concerned. Membership of a professional body does not necessarily mean that a person possesses qualifications in the subject area, nor that they are legally able to practice their profession - although in some countries and professions, membership of a professional body is required for somebody to legally practice.
Many professional bodies also act as learned societies for the academic disciplines underlying their professions.