What is a professional futurist?

March 27, 2013

Being a professional futurist means spending all or part of your work time using your skills and knowledge as a futurist to help clients.

It’s a recent term, in theory intending to differentiate between those who do futures as their primary work, and those for whom studying the future is more of an avocation. In practice the distinction is not at all rigid.

We would expect a professional futurist to be skilled and up to date in the use of tools, theory, and practice in the field, and to have had some training or education that distinguishes what he or she knows and can do from the more casual practitioner of a futures interest.

The Association of Professional Futurists (APF) is a global community of professional futurists, started in 2002. Members have to meet several criteria to be recognized as full professionals. The APF includes organizational members as well as individuals. Most of the professional futurists in the APF are consultants. Others are futurists working on staff inside organizations, or are futurist educators.

Leading Futurists (LF) are founding members of the APF and organizational members. To professional futurists like LF, the APF is a network that enables us to contact, work with, or recommend futures professionals in other parts of the US, or the world.

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