I agree that professions need an overhaul, as they have for about 4 expansions now. Professions should be a part of the character, not just a grind for an extra two gem slots.
Engineering feels closest to a real profession. Why? They have an iconic piece of gear, and the toys that you can use every few minutes really remind you that you're an engineer. Even the profession bonus is active, although most people just macro them in to something. I'd have to say that's probably why it's my favorite profession.
Gathering professions too, since they're spiced into the rest of our gameplay. You don't stop being a miner or an herbalist as soon as you hit 600 and leave the loom or forge.
But besides the feel of the professions, they're mechanically flawed in a lot of ways.
For starters, they use the old crafting model that pretty much everything (sadly) uses now of just rubbing two lumps of metal together for a few seconds until they make a sword. I'd love to see crafting be more active - But I think a discussion like that needs its own thread and a lot of arguing from both sides.
On the problems of the worthlessness of crafting, well, it just produces too much garbage at once. A small part of why crafted items are worthless is due to how many you have to make, often of the same item, in order to get anywhere. I just leveled a Leatherworker and made something like 60 pairs of the same kind of crappy Light Leather Glove, that nobody would use because by the time you can get your Leatherworking up, you'd have better equipment. Or by the time you returned to town to buy it, you'd have a better quest reward. Why not let us use the same amount of materials, even, to make 3 decent pairs of gloves that people would actually want to use?
Which is another problem with the professions - Especially with how fast people level nowadays, the stuff you can make flies way under what you're gathering. For example, Copper equipment has a minimum level of 2-4, but you can't really start the profession until you're 6, and you'll probably be a little higher before you can gather enough materials to really dive into it. And by the time you've quested around and tripped over enough copper, the equipment is already crap compared to the quest items you just got along the way.
A proper solution would be to have the stuff you can craft be slightly ahead of where you should be, rather than slightly behind. It means when you finish a zone and go back to town to craft you're making things you might be able to use. Or if you're doing it in the middle of a zone, you're making things you can use a little bit later. The quality should also be up to reflect it - Especially after level 15, when you can start doing dungeons and absolutely annihilating both your experience bar and the garbage you can forge.
An INCREDIBLE solution would be to have the fewer but better items approach make equipment that scaled a little. Like instead of a "Copper Chain Vest" for 4 bars, you made a "Flexible Copper Chain Vest" for 40 bars that improves with the player from level 4 to 14, like heirlooms do. Heirlooms would still have the clear advantage, giving both superior stats and experience bonuses, but you could still make something that is useful to the player when they're first able to craft it and a little afterwards. Of course this would take some serious work so I doubt it'll ever happen, but I can dream.
So what about those at the max level? I don't see why we can't have a system where you can upgrade crafted item at the max level using the max level currency.
For example, using today's numbers, you can sew an i476 Robe. What if then, there would be a vendor that sold an "Unliving Steel Ingot" or something for X amount of Valor, that you could craft together with the robe (and some extra materials) to make an i489/496 piece. Then when the next patch comes out, that valor piece would go for justice points, and there would be a new valor piece to upgrade it further.
You might be thinking that Blizzard already tore up one of the ways that was happening with the BC craftables. The problem there was that they were Best in Slot and potentially too easy to make as soon as you hit 70, then you used it until the expansion was over. But the means to get gear has broadened significantly since then, with this system it would only be comparable to what you can get through other means. If I made a Robe, it could be just as good as the one you can buy through reputations for valor, or dropped in normal modes. It wouldn't have to be the only robe you ever wore. It would also be of similar difficulty to get, when you'd have to spend the Valor to make it instead of just some Primal Mights.
Sorry for rambling, but I love profession and am just constantly disappointed with how Blizzard continues to mishandle them.