Short answer: no.
‘Puter asks this question seriously. “Profession” is defined as “a calling requiring specialized knowledge and often long and intensive academic preparation.” Based on this definition alone, ‘Puter would concede teaching elementary and secondary education is a profession. However, ‘Puter thinks the definition leaves out one very important element: the ability of the client to fire at any time for any reason, or no reason at all, the professional.
When ‘Puter thinks of professionals, several jobs spring to mind immediately. Among them are: doctor, lawyer, accountant, engineer and architect. Each of these jobs is characterized by high barriers to entry, just as teaching is. That is, a state licensing body requires years of study at accredited institutions of learning, along with a rigorous examination and licensing process, before one can hold one’s self out as a member of that profession. However, where teaching and the aforementioned professions diverge is at the other end of the transaction: termination.
No other profession has the termination barrier that teaching has. In fact, teaching has entrenched its state-supported perpetual right to employment where, to be fired, you have to be “caught in bed with a dead girl or a live boy,” assuming you are a heterosexual man or lesbian. Reverse the quote if you are a woman. Or homosexual male.
Teachers have a union to protect them from their poor performance. In New York, tenure guarantees teachers a job for life, as the procedure to fire a teacher can take years and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and school districts would rather continue to pay a teacher than go through the termination expenses. Clients, be they parents or school districts, are unable to effectively incentivize individual teachers because of union contract seniority driven pay scales. And, in New York, pension benefits are literally constitutionally protected.
Other professions have none of this back-end protection. You as a patient can switch doctors whenever you want. Further, you can fire your lawyer if she botches your house closing. You can fire an architect if you don’t like her renderings. If your software engineer freezes your payroll system because of poor coding, you can show her the door. And you can do it at any time, for any reason whatsoever or for no reason at all. This ability of the consumer of a professional’s services to end an unsatisfactory relationship immediately keeps good professionals sharp and weeds out the incompetent.
Teachers meet the minimalist definition of professional as their job requires advanced knowledge and specialized training. But, as teachers are insulated from the natural and immediate consequences of their failures (if any), they are not truly professionals.