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What is CPD and why is it important? Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is critical for growing your capability and keeping up with the latest research and trends that impact your profession. In this article we’re going to cover the basics of CPD to help you get prepared and organised for your 2022 CPD requirements!  

what is cpd and why is it important

If you’re a member of a professional association, it’s likely you’re aware of CPD requirements. While most members diligently undertake professional development, some approach this requirement as a ‘tick and flick’ exercise to meet baseline requirements, without taking a strategic approach to their learning.

Perhaps you’re not even sure how many CPD hours you’ve achieved this year like me 🙃

Let’s go back to basics to look at CPD in more detail to help you achieve your professional development goals and CPD requirements for 2022!

This post addresses the questions: ‘What is CPD?’ and ‘Why is it important?’

What is CPD and why is it important?

CPD stands for continuing professional development

Continuing professional development (CPD) refers to work-related learning and development activities professionals undertake to maintain or improve their skills, knowledge, experience and proficiency. What is CPD What is CPD

The Career Development Association of Australia has a neat definition of CPD:  “the ongoing maintenance and growth of professional excellence through participation in learning activities based on self-assessment.”

For some professionals, CPD is mandatory in the sense that completion of CPD is mandatory to maintaining registration with a professional association, and registration is mandatory to be permitted to practice.

CPD covers a wide range of learning and development activities, including formal (structured learning events) and informal (social and other self-directed learning). Some professional associations will specify how many CPD points can be obtained from each type of learning and development activity in one year.

Why is CPD important? And what is CPD

CPD is important for so many reasons! Consider it an investment in yourself and your career 😊

Undertaking regular CPD: what is CPD

  • grows your competency and capability as a professional
  • can help you reach your career goals faster
  • ensures your professional knowledge stays current and you’re aware of industry trends
  • provides a high standard of care or service to patients or clients
  • helps you to improve your business practices
  • contributes to the overall capability maturity of your professional
  • enables overall industry best practice to be assured
  • provides an opportunity to learn from experienced practitioners
  • provides a platform to share your knowledge so others can learn from you and contribute to your industry

Without undertaking CPD, you risk your career becoming stagnant or disengaging, or falling behind on the latest industry trends and knowledge.

Consider this – would you trust your health to a doctor who hasn’t kept their medical knowledge up to date over the last 15 years? Neither would I!

If you’ve been in the workforce for a while, you may have observed a mixed level of enthusiasm for professional development.  I’ve observed that apathy towards professional development is the first step towards a career declining. Don’t let this be you!

what is cpd

You might also like: Have you got inspiring career goals? Here’s how to develop them.

CPD requirements what is CPD

CPD requirements are usually set by a professional association and cover the number of hours and type of CPD to be completed.

Members are responsible for sourcing appropriate CPD activities, recording their activities and retaining evidence of the CPD, and achieving the required number of hours in a set time frame.

CPD activities are usually required to be aligned to the association’s professional standards/framework or scope of practice. This ensures CPD genuinely contributes to the “maintenance and growth of professional excellence.”

CPD hours

CPD hours refer to the number of hours of learning activities a member must complete in a certain time frame (usually a year).

CPD hours may be referred to as CECs (Continuing Education Credits). It’s essentially a unit of measure for learning activities.

The number of CPD hours required to be completed by members is set by the professional association.

CPD hours differ from membership type and association. The general guide for professional (practitioner) level membership is 20-30 hours per year.

CPD accreditation

In the case of structured learning courses or programs, some professional associations will only recognise CPD hours or CECs which have been delivered by accredited CPD providers or registered training organisations. What is CPD and why is it important?

Similarly, associations will only allow a certain number of CECs per year to be achieved from learning activities that can’t be accredited, such as mentoring or reading general resources like blogs.

Professional associations usually conduct an annual audit of a selection of members to assure the CPD policy is being adhered to.

All professional associations have a CPD policy/set of guidelines. It’s super important to read your professional association’s CPD policy shortly after joining. Each association has a unique policy. Not complying with CPD requirements may mean you’re ineligible to renew your membership.

what is cpd and why is it important

You might also like: 17 professional development goals to skyrocket your career

Examples of CPD and what is CPD? Good.

When deciding which CPD activities to undertake, it’s important to take the following into account: what is CPD

  • Is the course or program being delivered by a registered training organisation or an accredited provider?
  • Is the course or program being delivered by a qualified, experienced, registered professional? 
  • Has this material been recognised or endorsed by the professional association?
  • Will this material, course, event etc help me to learn or grow professionally?
  • Is this learning activity contributing to the overall capability growth of my profession?
  • Am I genuinely maintaining or growing my skills or knowledge (relevant to my profession) by participating in this activity? 

Your professional association’s CPD policy will have a list of examples of CPD activities. These are great resources for getting ideas on what learning activities to undertake next 😊 

Undertaking structured learning courses and programs is probably the most obvious way of obtaining CEC or CPD hours, however this can be a costly exercise! 

Luckily there are many free CPD options available 🙂  What is CPD is a great question!

Examples of CPD can include: what is CPD CPD courses online, CPD webinars, CPD training courses

Free CPD

  • Free short courses
  • Undertaking research
  • ‘In-house’ learning modules (training delivered by employers)
  • Free Webinars
  • Facilitated mentoring programs (participating as a mentor or mentee)
  • Presenting at formal CPD events
  • Peer observation
  • Informal mentoring
  • Supporting activities or events organised by your professional association
  • Authoring peer-reviewed articles/publications, journals and blogs, newsletters etc
  • Self-directed reading of peer-reviewed articles/publications, journals and blogs, newsletters etc 
  • Community engagement (volunteering time to educate community groups)
  • Services to the industry (e.g. judging competitions)
  • Reflection and learning journals 

Other examples of CPD

  • Tertiary and vocational education
  • Teaching a relevant tertiary or vocational course
  • Short courses
  • Conferences and seminars
  • Webinars
  • Workshops
  • Masterclasses
  • Networking events

Looking to level-up your career in 2022? Check out: 8 Essential Actions You Must Take To Get The Job Promotion You Deserve


CPD is critical for not only growing your capability and keeping up with the latest research and trends, but for growing the capability of the wider profession!

Understanding the CPD policy of your professional association is important for meeting your CPD requirements and retaining your membership.

Undertaking CPD doesn’t have to be costly, in fact there are many good free CPD options available.

What are you looking forward to learning the most in 2022?

This post addresses the questions: ‘What is CPD?’ and ‘Why is it important?’

Hi there, I'm Danielle Ward

Hi there, I'm Danielle Ward

Your go-to career development and human resource practitioner, guiding your career towards true north.

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Hi there, I'm Danielle! I've got a combined 15 years of experience in the career development and human resource industries. I'm passionate about helping people live empowered, purposeful and fulfilled lives through engaging in meaningful work. Calibrated Career provides innovative and affordable self-guided career exploration tools and resources to facilitate your career development and empower you to achieve your career goals.

Help others with their career development!