What is CPD?
CPD stands for Continuing Professional Development. It refers to the process of tracking and documenting the skills, knowledge and experience that you gain both formally and informally as you work, beyond any initial training. It’s a record of what you experience, learn and then apply. The term is generally used to mean a physical folder or portfolio documenting your development as a professional. Some organisations use it to mean a training or development plan, which I would argue is not strictly accurate. This article is about Continuing Professional Development as a process of recording and reflecting on learning and development.
What is it for?
The CPD process helps you manage your own development on an ongoing basis. Its function is to help you record, review and reflect on what you learn. It’s not a tick-box document recording the training you have completed. It’s broader than that.
Training or development – what’s the difference?
These terms are often used interchangeably, though there is a distinction. As a rule of thumb, training is formal and linear. It’s to do with learning how to do something specific, relating to skill and competence. Training can be as simple as using a PC application and as complex as learning how to be a pilot. Development is often informal and has a wider application, giving you the tools to do a range of things and relating to capability and competency. It involves progression from basic know-how to more advanced, mature or complex understanding. Alternatively, it can be about widening your range of transferable skills like leadership, managing projects or organising information.
The key features of the CPD process
To justify the name, CPD needs to:
- be a documented process
- be self-directed: driven by you, not your employer
- focus on learning from experience, reflective learning and review
- help you set development goals and objectives
- include both formal and informal learning.
What will it do for you?
CPD may be a requirement of membership of a professional body. It can help you to reflect, review and document your learning and to develop and update your professional knowledge and skills. It is also very useful to:
- provide an overview of your professional development to date
- remind you of your achievements and how far you’ve progressed
- direct your career and help you keep your eye on your goals
- uncover gaps in your skills and capabilities
- open up further development needs
- provide examples and scenarios for a CV or interview
- demonstrate your professional standing to clients and employers
- help you with your career development or a possible career change.
How do I start?
Keep a learning log and record your thoughts in whatever way suits you best. You may find it helpful to write things down in detail, for example, or to make notes on insights and learning points. The process of writing makes you think about your experiences at the time and makes planning and reflection much easier. You can’t review your experiences without recording them, however good your memory is.
Answering the following questions may help you to get started:
Where am I now?
Review and reflect on any learning experiences over the previous year or over the past three months. Write your thoughts down about what you learned, what insights it gave you and what you might have done differently. Include both formal training events and informal learning, such as:
- learning from colleagues or shared learning from networking
- reading about new technologies, new methods of working, legislative changes
- shadowing or assisting an experienced colleague
- insights and learning points from coaching and mentoring
- reflections, insights and learning points from taking on a new responsibility
- organisational or role change
- temporary job swaps within the department/organisation
- deputising or covering for colleagues
- insights and lessons learned from mistakes
- lessons learned from critical incidents or events
Make a note of any outcomes of each learning experience and what difference it has made to you, your colleagues, your students (if relevant) or your employer.
Where do I want to be?
Write down your overall career goals – where you want to be in two, five and 10 years’ time. Then write down no more than three specific and achievable shorter term objectives, including the dates by which you want to achieve them.
What do I have to do to get there?
Looking at your overall career goals, make a note of what you need to do to achieve them. This could include further training, job or role progression or changes in direction.
For shorter-term objectives, include the first step – what you can do today or tomorrow. For example, having a chat with your manager about a new responsibility or finding out about new technology from a colleague who has experience of it.
When should I review progress?
This step is essential! You’ll need to set a date in advance for review of the objectives you’ve set yourself. You can either do this from one review to the next or decide to review regularly – once every three, six or 12 months. Put it in your diary and do it! The cycle of continuing professional development has begun.
Ready to get started?
Download this handy Interactive CPD Toolkit for a structured and step-by-step approach to your professional development.
More Continuing Professional Development tips:
Datucan Rachman says
i want to know about the CPD
Please who is the publisher
Hi, The author is in the profile at the foot of the page, Lucie Johnston
When was this article published ? How can I reference it ? Thanks
I’ve used this:
Johnstone, L. (2019). What is Continuing Professional Development (CPD)? At https://career-advice.jobs.ac.uk/career-development/what-is-continuing-professional-development-cpd/ [accessed 23rd February 2021]
Nana Kofi Poku says
The programme is good and Will like to learn mmore of it.
NEKAA AMMAR says
First of all, I must say thank you for the efforts you have made to enlighten this corridor of knowledge, and directed us to an endless professional activity, which will facilitate the task in accomplishing the task and to get very good results in our Professional fields and environment.
patrick jones jones says
very true because employers and Manufactures are looking at CPDs as a reward to help customers to become more familiar with their products .
Should I write my previous training courses in the CPD ?
Yes indeed you should. But now that you have decided to start do it on a continuous basis
Bwalya Kawimbe says
Thank you for this knowledge and guidance
I want to know about the cpd and what is it for .is it necessary to get registartion in uk
where can i train to gain CPD?
Patrick Jones says
I am Building Services Engineer and I quite often see CPDs listed as part of the training packages listed in the Magazine called the Modern building services CPDs are honoured by Companies like Trend Controls and Johnsons controls LTD Its to enhance the product sales the more courses one does the more CPD points you obtain .
Institution’s like The charter institute of building services engineers and the Institutes of surveyors both welcome CPDs with open arms .I highly recommend it simply because it gives your employers a much better insight of you achievements and ability.as well as future aspirations .
I graduated as biomedical science 2017 ,I want to know how I get CPD to improve my self and get more information.
Dr. Sukhbir kaur says
Thanks for this knowledge
Mushumo Dzvimbo says
The information that I have gained is really valuable!
Rosemarie A. Dayao says
Where can I enroll CPD?
Hello Everyone, How can I improve my CPD and get More information about CPD
Thank you for information, it is really useful
Thank you for knowledge
Ghulam Hussain says
How to inter cpd to upload attendence
better manual for me and those who are in need
Melkamu Melesse Yona says
By what system or way I to get the CPD?
– Also I want to get the CPD certificate?