There is more to professional apiculture than the methods, terms and making a living at it.
Below you will find some of the thinking behind professional beekeeping.
Simply put, the most important distinguishing aspect of professional apiculture is accountability. The hobbyist or amateur beekeeper is accountable only to themself. The only requirements they need to meet are their own. The only goals and objectives they need to achieve are their own.
A professional apiarist is accountable to someone else. They must achieve goals and objectives set by someone else, usually an employer or a client. They must be accountable to someone else. They have to be able to show verification of steps taken to achieve objectives. They must work hives to the satisfaction and in the manner as determined by someone else. Again, usually an employer or client.
The point is, the professional apiarist is providing a valuable and specialized service to and for others. Part of being accountable as a professional service provider to others is being able to offer certain assurances.
Things like having liability insurance and the proper tools for the work as well as the knowledge and experience to use them properly.
Obtaining certifications means little on a general basis. As a professional however, those certifications show that you have demonstrated your knowledge and skills to an reputable third party that can vouch for your abilities. Certifications are yet another assurance a professional apiarist can provide to their employer or clients.
One thing people must understand about professionalism is that it is not the same thing as expertise.
A professional is not necessarily an expert in their field, at least, not usually at first. However, they work diligently to accomplish the knowledge and skills necessary to complete the work in a manner expected of a professional. Expertise usually comes with experience.
On the other hand, we have all known people who are undeniably experts in their field yet could hardly be considered professional in the way they represent themselves or in how they work.
Another distinguishing element of professional apiculture is that the ultimate goal is profitability in some form.
The most obvious way of this is in building a business and making a living. The professional apiarist has made investments in training, education, tools and equipment, insurance and other assurances. They must account for those expenses as well as recurring expenses.
Doing work for “free” is anathema to the professional apiarist. Of course compensation doesn't always mean money. I like to encourage pro's to engage in barter and trade as well. This allows them to arrange for things they need but may not have finances to obtain or to offer promotional and marketing opportunities for themself and the potential trader or barter partner.
So now we get to the discussion of how one represents themself as a professional as opposed to an amateur or hobbyist.
The most important aspect is to show yourself as in control of the situation, calm, collected, confident and capable.
Notice I did not make any mention of arrogant, uppity, conceited, or “slick”.
Your communication with the people you are working with and for should be in a way that assures them in your ability and that you will work to achieve your ideals. All of that without being dishonest, cocky, or disingenuous.
Be honest in your reporting. Be objective when listening to their questions, comments, and ideas. Look for solutions and don't make mountains out of molehill.
Inspire and motivate others. You are the professional, the “can do” person in the room at least in regard to apiculture. Be encouraging and try to facilitate a positive outlook and enthusiasm for the project.
Ultimately and always, you are the person the others are looking to to achieve the goals and objectives set forth. Perhaps even to help establish those goals and objectives. Be a facilitator, set them up for success.