James, who turns 22 in April, is the reigning Canadian Women's Amateur champion and was a three-time all-Atlantic Coast Conference star at North Carolina State. She will play her first Symetra Tour event at the Feb. 20-22 Gateway Classic in Mesa, Ariz.
"It's tough to say there's a perfect time to do something," James said Tuesday on a conference call from Raleigh, N.C. "But this is my time to take advantage of the opportunity I created for myself through (qualifying) school. I just really felt like this was the right path for me."
The Bath, Ont., native turns pro six weeks after Canadian teenage phenom Brooke Henderson made the same call. Henderson is going to the LPGA Tour, while James will start on the developmental Symetra Tour with the hopes of playing in higher-level events such as the Manulife LPGA Classic and Canadian Pacific Women's Open.
James and Henderson are part of a burgeoning group of talented, young Canadian golfers that includes rookie pros Rebecca-Lee Bentham and Jennifer Kirby.
"Canadian women's golf is progressing every year," James said. "Obviously we have lots of great rookies on the LPGA Tour and the Symetra Tour this year from Canada. I'm excited to get out there and get to travel and play with some of my fellow Canadians this year on the Symetra Tour."
After discussions with current pros, James thinks travel could be the biggest adjustment in her transition. On the course, she's trying to listen to advice from Golf Canada coach Tristan Mullally.
"A lot of people feel like they have to change their game when they turn pro and that's not the reality," James said. "So I'm really going to try to stick to the basics of what got me here because I feel confident in that. I would say that physical fitness, though, is something that I'm really going to try and improve on and have been trying to improve on just so I can get a little bit of extra distance.
"I think it would be very helpful to hit one less iron into greens, or you gain 15 yards off the tee."
James is 12 credit hours short of a degree in sports management from N.C. State and plans to formulate a plan to get it even while playing as much as possible professionally.