What is CPD?

Continuing professional development (CPD) is the intentional maintenance and development of the knowledge and skills needed to perform in a professional context. This could mean honing current skills, it could mean developing them to a new level, or it could mean learning new ones that will allow an employee’s job role to expand or prepare them for potential promotion.

CPD requirements are present in most professions. Most companies and organisations now prioritise them because they ensure a constantly developing workforce.

This means there are millions of professionals across the UK who are required to undertake Continuing professional development training every year.


Structured CPD gives employees a clear path to success within their current role and progression to future ones. Employees in regulated industries (e.g. healthcare, accountancy, legal work) can lose their license to operate if they don’t maintain their CPD.

CPD activities can range from formal educational activities such as instructor-led courses, workshops or seminars, to more informal approaches such as work-based learning or mentoring. CPD can also include self-directed study such as e-learning courses and structured reading.

CPD can be provided by specialist companies (e.g. commercial training providers, independent coaches), or provided internally, in particular by larger organisations.

We can help you provide CPD training


At the CPD Standards Office, we are able to review any provider’s CPD activities and processes, no matter how large or small. We can then support you in gaining your accreditation whether you are a specialist training provider, an employer or a small business owner with a niche training programme.

CPD Learning Types

Continuous professional development can be broadly split into three types:

Informal Learning

This is the kind of learning that happens naturally as you go about your work. It includes on-the-job training, mentoring and coaching from colleagues, as well as attending conferences and networking.


Informal Learning

This is learning that takes place in a more structured environment, such as attending courses, online learning workshops or lectures.

Non-formal Learning

This is learning that doesn’t fit neatly into either the informal or formal category, but still contributes to your own learning. It can include reflective learning, such as reading industry publications or participating in online discussion forums.

What’s the difference between training and development?

Training is a program that helps employees learn specific skills to improve their performance in their current role. Development, on the other hand, helps employees prepare for future roles within the company.

One way to think of the difference is that training is about improving employees’ current skills, while development is about expanding their future skills.

What is a CPD plan?

A CPD plan is a tool that helps you to focus on your professional development goals, your own personal skills and track your progress.

The process of setting up a CPD plan involves reflecting on your current skills and knowledge, identifying areas where you need to develop further, and setting goals for your professional development plan.

A CPD plan can be a useful way to structure your continuing professional development (CPD) activities. It can also help you to reflect on your learning and identify how your CPD has helped you to develop professionally.

Why create a CPD plan?

There are many benefits to creating a CPD plan. A CPD plan:

Helps you to focus on your professional development goals

Keeps you motivated to undertake CPD activities

Holds you accountable for your professional development

Makes it easier to track your progress

Helps you to identify your learning needs

Provides a structure for your CPD activities

What are CPD points?

CPD points are a measure of your educational activities and can be used to maintain your professional registration. They can also be used as evidence of your commitment to continued professional development (CPD).

The points are usually awarded for attending training courses, conferences and other events, or for completing self-directed learning activities. The number of points you can earn for each activity varies, and is set by the relevant professional body.

The Absolute Definitive Guide to CPD:

In just 3 minutes!

CPD Standards Office Logo

In this easy to digest guide, we provide effective advice on what CPD is, who undertakes CPD, the benefits of CPD for you and your organisation, and we address frequently asked questions about CPD Standards as an organisation.

How are CPD points calculated?

The points are calculated by multiplying the number of hours you spend on the activity by the CPD credit value assigned to that activity. For example, if you attend a one-day training course that has been assigned a CPD credit value of 10 points, you would earn 10 CPD points.

What is the difference between CPD hours and CPD points?

CPD hours are the actual amount of time you spend participating in an activity. CPD points are a measure of the educational value of that activity and are used by professional bodies to assess your commitment to continued professional development.

Is CPD a recognised qualification in the UK?

There is no formal CPD certification, but many professional organisations and businesses recognise its significance and urge their members and workers to undertake CPD. It’s also possible to do it at your own pace and schedule, which is ideal for individuals who have a lot on their plate already. CPD can be done online, offline, or a combination of both.

While CPD is not a legal requirement in the UK, many formal professional associations, such as the Law Society and the Chartered Institute of Marketing, require their members to undertake a minimum amount of CPD every year in order to maintain their membership. This is because these bodies want to ensure that their members are up-to-date with the latest developments in their field and able to provide a high level of service to their clients.

So, in short, CPD is a way of ensuring that professionals keep their skills and knowledge up-to-date. It’s not a formal qualification, but it is something that is widely recognised and encouraged by many professional bodies and businesses.

Who needs CPD?

Across the UK workforce, CPD is expected of most individual professionals in most sectors. It is generally governed by sector-specific professional organisations or regulators. Employers also increasingly expect their staff to undertake CPD, and may even measure them on it.

Anyone who is a member of a professional body is likely to have CPD requirements laid out for them by the body, rather than by their employer. There are currently over 2,000 professional bodies, institutes and membership associations nationally in the UK. They represent all industries and professions, and all have CPD policies also known as CPD schemes.

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. Regulatory bodies are established to ensure that the public receives services of the required standard, so CPD is taken very seriously.

Employers will often support with CPD, and may even contribute to CPD plans. However, the onus is very much with the individual to source CPD training activities that meet their personal learning needs and objectives.

For training and learning providers, this offers a great opportunity to help individuals enhance their careers. By having a formal CPD accreditation, your training activities will have a much stronger appeal.