Continuing Professional Development or CPD is the process of continual learning. Professionals undertake CPD to keep up to date with changes in their field, as well as learn new skills, and develop their knowledge or experience.
Certain industries and professional bodies require or encourage their members to undertake a certain number of CPD hours every year to maintain their credentials. These include teachers, healthcare professionals, pharmacists, lawyers and accountants, as well as chartered surveyors and engineers, to name a few.
Why Continuing Professional Development is important
Continuing Professional Development is necessary for a variety of reasons. Here are some of the most important to do so.
- Improve your professional competence
- Demonstrate that you have made efforts to maintain your competence
- Comply with professional body regulations and accreditation
- Learn new knowledge or skills
- Move into a different area of your profession
- Acquire the skills necessary for a promotion
- Keep abreast of changes and updated practices as well as new technologies in your field
- Plugs gaps in your skills and capabilities
- Opens up further development needs
- Demonstrates your professional standing to clients and employers
CPD can involve any learning activity that is relevant to your field. It may be formal and structured or informal and self-directed. In addition, it helps you to manage your development and career progression on an ongoing basis.
Finding CPD courses
Your first port of call is the professional body or membership organisation for your industry. They will be able to advise you on courses and training that they recognise or recommend.
Many professional bodies run courses along with education and training providers; others run the courses themselves. In addition, most will host a range of seminars and CPD events over the year. These will normally count towards your yearly CPD requirements. Furthermore, they offer a chance to meet and network members of your profession.
Some professionals are encouraged to adopt a reflective approach to learning. This means they identify their own learning and development needs. As a result, they can adopt a flexible approach to Continuing Professional Development. Depending on your profession, CPD requirements may be formal or flexible.