What is CPD Continuing Professional Development Explained | The CPD Certification Service (2023)

What is CPD Continuing Professional Development Explained | The CPD Certification Service (1)

CPD Explained

CPD stands for Continuing Professional Development and is the term used to describe the learning activities professionals engage in to develop and enhance their abilities. CPD is a holistic approach towards the enhancement of personal skills and proficiency throughout a professional’s career.

What is CPD Continuing Professional Development Explained | The CPD Certification Service (2)

What is CPD?

Continuing Professional Development is a commitment to ongoing lifelong learning. CPD encourages looking forward and identifying opportunities to learn something new, refresh existing knowledge, improve skills, or simply keep up-to-date with the latest developments within a particular profession or industry.

In practice, CPD can mean everything from taking a training course or attending an educational event, to studying for new qualifications or learning new aspects of a job.

What is CPD Continuing Professional Development Explained | The CPD Certification Service (3)

Continuing Professional Development enables learning to become conscious and proactive, rather than passive and reactive. It involves an individual documenting and keeping a record of the increasing skills, knowledge and experience they gain throughout their career.

CPD combines different methodologies to learning, which includes training courses, seminars, workshops, conferences and events, webinars and online eLearning programs. CPD can also include sharing best practice techniques, thoughts and ideas, all focused towards an individual improving within the work environment.

What is CPD Continuing Professional Development Explained | The CPD Certification Service (4)

(Video) What is CPD? Continuing Professional Development explained

More about CPD

Engaging in CPD activities ensures that both academic and practical qualifications do not become outdated or obsolete, and allows for individuals to continually ‘up skill’ or ‘re-skill’ themselves regardless of their occupation, age or educational level.

Continuing Professional Development is an ongoing process of frequently improving skills and competencies to enhance workplace performance and future career prospects.

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Types of CPD

Continuing Professional Development is a powerful learning tool that professionals from across all industries can apply to improving skills and developing their knowledge. The types of CPD vary depending on a range of different learning methods.

Step 01

Structured CPD / Active Learning

Structured CPD typically involves interactive and participation-based study. It is often proactive and can include attending training courses, workshops, seminars, conferences, eLearning courses or CPD certified events. CPD active learning can also apply to professionals taking career-orientated exams, however the study and revision would be considered self-directed learning.

Step 02

Reflective CPD / Passive Learning

Reflective CPD defines learning that often has a structured format, however will typically have no participant-based interaction, and so this form of CPD is much more passive and one directional than structured CPD. Examples of reflective CPD can include watching training videos and tutorials, attending a non-interactive lecture, industry briefings, podcasts, case studies and industry updates.

Step 03

Informal CPD / Self-Directed Learning

Self-directed CPD covers all unaccompanied and unstructured learning. This includes discussions in forums, reading books, articles and publications; either in print or online. You could possibly also include industry-specific news or research into relevant fields. Self-directed CPD often does not have specific learning time frames, is informal and learning outcomes can vary for each individual.

Different methods of CPD learning

There is no one-size-fits all approach to CPD, however a blended approach to learning that incorporates a full range of different types of CPD can increase chances of knowledge retention and engagement. From experience, we advise that at least 50% of Continuing Professional Development be completed in a structured CPD / active learning environment. The remaining learning can be balanced across both reflective and self-directed types of CPD.

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(Video) What is the CPD Cycle and how does it work?

Training Courses

A CPD training course is the most well-known method of completing Continuing Professional Development, and can vary in length from one day up to several days or over several weeks. Training courses will often be specific to one subject or offer skills in a particular area of industry.

CPD training courses can also sometimes encompass others forms of learning such as lectures, seminars and workshops, and can be delivered either in-person such as classroom style, or online, or even possibly a hybrid of both.

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A seminar is a type of short course and typically only a few hours long up to one day. CPD seminars provide an opportunity to focus on a particular subject matter in detail. They are usually conducted in a group setting with no more than 20 participants.

CPD seminars will typically include group work, activities and interactive discussion, in order to allow individuals to contribute which can lead to better retention of knowledge.

Seminars can also be a chance for individuals to network with others from different areas of their own industry or other sectors.

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A workshop is an interactive educational group session typically involving between 1 to 3 days of learning. Workshops and seminars are similar, but there are a few key differences.

CPD workshops are less theoretical and tend to offer a more hands-on, practical skills approach to learning which may include practical exercises, breakout sessions and role plays. Workshop groups are usually smaller than seminars.

As CPD workshops are primarily activity and exercise based, it gives the group a chance to apply theoretical knowledge in a practical context and offers a hands-on approach to enhancing skills and knowledge.

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(Video) Understanding the different types of CPD


Webinars are an online learning activity held virtually and attended by an online audience. Often, the main objective of a CPD webinar is to educate and inform professionals in a short and concise manner about new and relevant information.

CPD webinars can provide opportunity to interact and participate, ask questions to the hosts, complete polls or surveys, and share documents between attendees. CPD webinars are useful in that they do not require attendance at an in-person event and therefore provide opportunity for wider, often international, participation.

What is CPD Continuing Professional Development Explained | The CPD Certification Service (9)


There are a number of different forms of learning that can be considered CPD events. For instance, there could be a live speaker session delivered in the format of a guest presentation or a panel discussion.

Other forms of CPD events includes conferences, usually held at venues, beginning with a keynote session and then offering breakout learning by topic. Seminars and workshops may also feature as part of wider CPD events.

Organisations can choose to host or sponsor a particular industry trade show which are usually held in large spaces, with hundreds of products and services being showcased, and in doing so may add an educational CPD learning opportunity within the trade show itself.

What is CPD Continuing Professional Development Explained | The CPD Certification Service (10)

Online Courses

Online CPD courses are an increasingly popular method of learning, and can offer convenience and affordability, in that there is no need to attend an in-person event and course materials can be shared free online.

Online courses offer flexibility for individuals to participate at a suitable time and schedule around other work and family commitments.

In many instances, online CPD courses can be spread over a period of time rather than requiring participation on a given day.

Find online CPD courses

What is CPD Continuing Professional Development Explained | The CPD Certification Service (11)

CPD for Individuals

CPD encourages individuals to maintain consistent and high standards, as well as making it easier to demonstrate commitment and dedication towards a particular job role or profession.

CPD offers a functional platform for individuals to build a career progression plan that supports their objectives towards new job openings, development within an existing role, or even possibly higher earnings opportunities.

CPD can be an excellent self-motivation tool, acting as a reminder of personal achievements and progression over time. CPD provides flexibility and diversity in terms of different methods of learning available so each individual can find a learning style that suits them best. To that extent a professional is able to find much greater appreciation for the positive impact they can make at work.

CPD for Organisations

All organisations that face competition need to find new ways to retain key staff and help differentiate themselves as leaders in their industry. CPD can be used to advance the body of knowledge, skills and technology within an organisation.The application of CPD in the workplace shows a mindful decision and commitment towards both clients and employees that professionalism is important.

Organisations are able to recognise that Continuing Professional Development can be used to ensure quality levels remain high across all departments. CPD can help to identify potential skill gaps in the workplace, and highlight areas where the business can be improved. CPD encourages a healthy learning culture which can lead to a more fulfilled and valuable workforce.

Continuing Professional Development should be used to attract a higher level of candidates when recruiting for new roles, by encouraging better talent towards the organisation. CPD is a tool for improvements in business performance and efficiency, whilst also helping staff with their individual learning requirements.

(Video) Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

What is accredited CPD training?

Accredited CPD training means the learning activity has reached the required Continuing Professional Development standards and benchmarks. The learning value has been scrutinised to ensure integrity and quality. The CPD Certification Service provides recognised independent CPD accreditation compatible with global CPD requirements.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are CPD points, hours and credits?

The majority of institutions and professional bodies provide Continuing Professional Development targets generally set on an annual basis. These targets are defined by the accrual of CPD activities through attendance in training courses, eLearning and events, as well as other forms of structured learning. Most professional bodies use CPD hours as their measure, and where CPD points or credits are used, these are typically a 1:1 ratio with CPD hours. By this, 1 CPD point would be equal to 1 CPD hour.

How should I allocate my CPD time?

The majority of institutions and professional bodies will allow members to choose subjects of relevance to them, whilst a minority will require their members to seek CPD training on a particular range of core subjects. All professionals must understand how CPD should be recorded and how much learning time is required for their role each year. As a general rule, we advise that at least 50% of CPD be completed in a structured CPD / active learning environment.

What is the CPD Cycle?

The CPD Cycle is a practical tool that helps individuals to structure their Continuing Professional Development learning easily throughout the year, and to identify regular and measurable improvements in work-related skills and knowledge. There are five key stages of the CPD Cycle that are important when planning professional development activities for the year. These include Stage 1 - Identifying Your Needs, Stage 2 – Planning, Stage 3 - Acting/Doing, Stage 4 - Reflecting on Learning, Stage 5 - Implement your New Learning.

How do I log and record CPD activities?

CPD is something that most people will do on an ongoing basis as part of their career. To reflect and keep track of learning, it is important to maintain a regular and up to date record of any completed learning and development activities, as well as future goals or professional achievements in the work environment. A CPD log and record of learning activities undertaken can be kept using an online purpose-built CPD recording tool, such as the myCPD Portal.

What is myCPD Portal?

(Video) Continual Professional Development (CPD): What is classed as CPD?

myCPD Portal is a free online record tool that allows individuals and organisations to log, track and manage their Continuing Professional Development in one simple place. Users can set annual CPD targets, review training records, store attendance certificates and monitor learning progress. This makes it easier to reflect on knowledge and skills that have been obtained throughout the year.

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What is the meaning of continuing professional development CPD? ›

Continuing, or continuous, professional development (CPD), can be broadly defined as any type of learning you undertake which increases your knowledge, understanding and experiences of a subject area or role. CPD is an ongoing and planned learning and development process.

What does CPD stand for continuing professional answer? ›

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.

What is CPD and why do we need this? ›

Continuous professional development (CPD) is how professionals maintain and evolve their skills, knowledge, experience and understanding. CPD requires employees to consciously and proactively do, track, document and reflect on activities that make them better at what they do.

What is the continuing professional development program? ›

Continuous Professional Development is the ongoing process of developing and maintaining professional skills. A Continuous Professional Development program might be conducted as formal courses, or in a more informal manner, through coaching, mentoring, or on-the-job observation.

How do I get a CPD certificate? ›

A CPD certificate is typically obtained from Structured CPD, which is considered formal learning and includes training courses, workshops, seminars educational events and online eLearning programs that have been CPD accredited to conform to industry guidelines and standards.

What can I do with a CPD certificate? ›

Here are some ways pursuing CPD could benefit you:
  • Increase your knowledge. Increasing your knowledge through CPD can provide you with the ability to pursue your career goals. ...
  • Develop your skills. ...
  • Improve your resume. ...
  • Keep you up to date. ...
  • Increase your confidence. ...
  • Online training. ...
  • Mentoring. ...
  • Workshops.
May 22, 2023

What are the three types of CPD? ›

Types of Continuing Professional Development
  • Formal Education and Training. This includes formal face-to-face education, distance learning, short courses and formal on-the-job training. ...
  • Informal Learning. ...
  • Conferences and Meetings. ...
  • Presentations and Papers. ...
  • Institution Activities. ...
  • Industry Involvement (per academia)

What is the importance of CPD reflection? ›

Undertaking a reflective CPD practice enables you to identify knowledge gaps and helps you modify your actions and behaviour so you can meet your objectives more easily. Reflection is an important part of the CPD process, as the knowledge and skills needed to practice can change together with your career ambitions.

Why is professional development important? ›

Professional development can help to bolster employees' confidence in their work. Greater confidence can, in turn, translate into higher overall job satisfaction, employee performance, productivity, and overall morale.

Why is CPD important to an Organisation? ›

The benefits of CPD for employers include: Ensures high standards throughout the organisation. Contributes positively to an organisation's growth and success. Enables a culture of learning and promotes a healthy working relationship with employees.

What are the 4 stages of the CPD cycle? ›

The CPD cycle breaks down the task of completing a CPD activity into four sections: planning, learning, documenting and reflecting. In this sense, the CPD cycle is a tool that helps you measure the success and progression of your CPD.

What are the benefits of continuing professional development? ›

What are the Advantages of CPD?
  • Maintaining Existing Knowledge. ...
  • Expanding Knowledge and Skills. ...
  • Industry Updates, Trends, and Best Practice. ...
  • Professional Memberships and Registrations are Maintained. ...
  • Building Confidence and Credibility. ...
  • Promotion of Career Advancement. ...
  • Time for Reflection. ...
  • Formal CPD.
Oct 19, 2021

What is a CPD certificate equivalent to? ›

CPD is a recognised qualification that confirms your learning has met the necessary Continuing Professional Development standards and benchmarks. Whereas an NVQ (National Vocational Qualification) is a vocational qualification based on national occupational standards.

What is the ultimate objective of CPD? ›

Improve their performance at work; Boost their self-confidence; Enhance their professional reputation and future job prospects; Obtain concrete proof of their professionalism and commitment.

How do I know if my CPD is legit? ›

The CPD Register is an independent register of CPD Accredited courses, providers, and trainers. You can verify a CPD course by looking for the accreditation number displayed on their logo. If the course is genuinely accredited, it should appear when you search this number on the register.

Is CPD certification Recognised in USA? ›

The CPD accreditation process is recognised internationally by authorities in the US and UK. Getting accreditation for CPD courses is a primary step to offering training, seminars, workshops and conferences.

Is CPD certification good? ›

Certificates from CPD accredited courses are credible to employers and businesses as they which have been assessed to ensure high quality and integrity.

Who is required to complete CPD? ›

WHO IS REQUIRED TO UNDERTAKE CPD? All persons who are registered in a professional registration category, listed under Section 18(1)(a) and (c) of the Act, are required to undertake CPD in order to renew their registration. This includes all registered professionals practising abroad.

Who needs to complete CPD? ›

Anyone who works within a sector that is formally regulated (e.g. by the Solicitors Regulation Authority or Financial Conduct Authority), is likely to be required to track and progress their CPD in order to maintain their license to practice or professional qualifications.

What are the top 10 benefits of CPD? ›

10 reasons why you should continue your professional development...
  • It will enhance your confidence and self-esteem. ...
  • Keep up-to-date with trends and research. ...
  • Stay motivated. ...
  • Discover new opportunities. ...
  • Enhance patient care. ...
  • Enhance support. ...
  • Give your patients confidence. ...
  • Develop new skills.

What are the two main types of CPD? ›

There are two main types of CPD: formal, structured learning and informal, self-directed learning.

What is the first step of CPD? ›

Stage 1 - Identifying Your Needs - The first of the CPD cycle step relates to the process of identifying your skills and knowledge gaps.

How many CPD are needed? ›

The minimum required credit units under the 3 major areas of CPD activities are as follows: Competence Area A (Technical Competence) - 30 CPD Units. Competence Area B (Professional Skills) - 5 CPD Units. Competence Area C (Professional Values, Ethics and Attitudes) - 5 CPD Units.

How do you write a good CPD reflection? ›

A reflective note for each CPD learning activity should contain the following three elements:
  1. Title and Description of Activity.
  2. What prompted the Learning Event?
  3. reasons why the learning event was undertaken.
  4. what you wanted to achieve from the learning event.
  5. if the learning event was planned, how it links to your PLP.

What is the importance of CPD to improve own skills and early years practice? ›

Continuing or Continuous Professional Development (CPD) is a commitment to ongoing learning. It encourages those working in specific industries, such as the early years industry, to identify opportunities to learn something new, refresh knowledge, improve skills, and keep up to date with latest developments.

How do you reflect on professional development? ›

Reflection should occur as soon as possible following the event or learning. The best way to be contemporaneous and meaningful is to ask yourself a series of questions, such as: What have I gained from this activity? Was this activity beneficial to my professional development?

What is the most important part of professional development? ›

One of the most important things you can do for your professional development is set goals for yourself. Your goals give you a path and a purpose in your career. Your department may have goals for the team and your company can have overarching goals that drive business decisions and strategy.

What is an example of professional development? ›

Learning new abilities, earning certifications, gaining more experience in a specific field, moving forward in your company, and pursuing any other career aspirations are all examples of professional development goals.

What are professional development goals? ›

Professional development goals are objectives you can set for yourself to help further your career. These might include taking steps to learn relevant skills, expand your professional network, or find more satisfaction at work.

What are the barriers to CPD? ›

Physical barriers to completing CPD can include financial limitations, travel distance to CPD activities, and a lack of resources. Not everyone has the time to attend face-to-face training and not everyone finds the online content easy to consume.

How do you evaluate CPD? ›

So, how do you measure the effectiveness of CPD? CPD can be measured against the consideration of a few key factors; how CPD helped you to achieve your goals, what effect CPD has had on your work, attitude, and performance, how CPD has impacted your organisation, and, crucially, how CPD has impacted your clients.

What do you think an effective development plan should contain? ›

Regardless, there are always 5 elements that every professional development plan should include. They are assessment, goals, resources, strategy, and evaluation. Whether you are working on a PDP for yourself or the people you manage, commitment to each element of the process is key.

What are the 6 characteristics of effective CPD? ›

The six major characteristics are that CPD be driven by identified learning needs; sustained; subject specific; based in the classroom; collaborative; and that it make use of external expertise. Each of these characteristics is discussed.

What are the key characteristics of a good practice CPD? ›

The key features of the CPD process:
  • 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 is the main goal of CPD? ›

The purpose of CPD

CPD enables an individual to regularly apply focus and attention to important areas of their own development and provides the framework for a professional to take appropriate action to reduce any shortfalls in knowledge.

Is CPD certification legit? ›

Are CPD courses legit? Accredited CPD courses are legitimately recognised as fully certified achievements. Accreditation provides a stamp of approval, assuring prospective students of CPD courses that the courses are genuine and valuable.

What are the 4 features of CPD? ›

For schools then, it seems CPD needs to address all four purposes (insights, goals, techniques and embedding practice) to enable the most effective impact on pupil learning.

Is it hard to get CPD accredited? ›

CPD certification is a straightforward process and follows an intentionally practical method that has been continuously developed over the past few decades. Certification is focused on providing the highest standards of Continuing Professional Development learning for delegates and attendees.

Is CPD necessary? ›

CPD is about developing your professional practice. So it may help keep your skills and knowledge up to date; prepare you for greater responsibilities; boost your confidence; help you become more creative in tackling new challenges; enable you to make better decisions, or help you take your career further.

Is it worth getting a CPD? ›

Yes, CPD (Continuing Professional Development) certification is a good certification for professional development and growth.


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