Is CPD a Recognised Qualification for Employers?

Is CPD a Recognised Qualification for Employers?

09 May 2024

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Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is widely recognised as a powerful tool for personal growth and can serve as an essential way to demonstrate professional value to employers across all industries. This article explores how CPD differs from formal qualifications and highlights its significant benefits for career advancement and importance in the workplace.

What is Continuing Professional Development (CPD)?

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

At its core, CPD is about the individual and their commitment to ongoing lifelong learning. It 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.

Is CPD a Qualification?

While Continuing Professional Development (CPD) differs in its role from qualifications such as degrees and diplomas, it’s fundamental for enhancing and complementing these educational pathways. To illustrate the differences, let's look at a comparison that highlights the core aspects of CPD and its key distinctions with other qualifications.

Comparison of CPD with other Qualifications


  • CPD: Focused on enhancing and updating skills within a profession, addressing specific professional development needs.
  • Degrees: Aim to provide in-depth subject knowledge and foundational skills over a broad area.
  • Diplomas: Focus on delivering focused vocational skills and knowledge for specific industries.


  • CPD: Ongoing and flexible, allowing for Continuing Professional Development throughout a career.
  • Degrees: Typically require 3-4 years for undergraduate programs and 1-2 years for postgraduate studies.
  • Diplomas: Usually last 1-2 years, concentrating on practical and industry-specific skills.


  • CPD: Includes workshops, seminars, online courses, and self-study, often tailored to specific professional needs.
  • Degrees: Structured courses, lectures, and exams within a university setting.
  • Diplomas: Combination of courses and practical training, with assessments tailored to vocational skills.


  • CPD: May include participation-based evaluations or completion of learning activities without formal exams.
  • Degrees: Involve rigorous exams, coursework, and often a dissertation or thesis.
  • Diplomas: Typically require passing exams and practical assessments relevant to the vocational field.


  • CPD: Results in professional development, skill updates, and potential career advancement.
  • Degrees: Lead to degree certification, providing a comprehensive knowledge base and entry into professional fields.
  • Diplomas: Result in a diploma certification, equipping individuals with industry-specific skills.

Professional Impact

  • CPD: Essential for maintaining relevance and competency in professional fields, often required for continued licensure or membership in professional bodies.
  • Degrees: Qualify individuals for a range of professional roles, providing broad and deep expertise.
  • Diplomas: Prepare individuals for specific vocational roles within industries.
CPD differs in role from degrees and diplomas

While degrees and diplomas primarily aim to establish a foundational and comprehensive knowledge base in a specific area, CPD focuses on continuous skill enhancement, adaptability and staying current with industry developments.

CPD's flexible and ongoing nature allows professionals to adapt to evolving standards and technologies, ensuring they remain competitive and effective in their roles. This flexibility contrasts with the more structured and time-bound nature of formal educational qualifications. CPD is also a means for potentially changing career by continually developing on existing skills and learning new ones. CPD goes beyond fulfilling core educational needs; supporting individuals and allowing them to sustain and advance professional practice in a dynamic world, making it an indispensable part of professional life.

Moreover, CPD is integral for meeting regulatory requirements such as maintaining professional licensure in many fields and is critical for career longevity and advancement in these areas.

Is CPD Valued in the Workplace?

CPD is highly valued and recognised by employers across industries for its role in maintaining and demonstrating professional growth. Beyond the inherent value of upskilling and knowledge enhancement, CPD is often essential due to regulatory frameworks in certain professions, where ongoing professional competence is crucial to public safety and service.

This section explores how it is recognised and valued across some key sectors, reinforcing the importance of CPD in the workplace for employers.

Regulatory Perspective on CPD

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. With over 2,000 professional bodies, institutes, and membership associations nationally, representing all industries and professions, the landscape of CPD is extensive and varied.

Each of these bodies has its own CPD policies, which set out the expectations for ongoing professional development to ensure their members maintain competence in their respective fields. The following list is by no means exhaustive, and Continuing Professional Development is a key component for employees’ professional lives across all industry sectors.


For many in the healthcare sector, CPD is an important element of their role. Medical boards across various countries may stipulate a minimum number of CPD hours annually to ensure that practitioners stay current with the latest medical advancements and techniques so that they can continue to practice safely and ethically.

Employers in healthcare therefore not only encourage but often facilitate CPD opportunities to ensure compliance and maintain the highest standards of patient care.


For legal professionals, completing CPD is crucial for maintaining their practising certificates. Law firms and legal departments prioritise CPD to ensure that their staff are up to date with the latest legal developments, case law updates, and ethical standards. This requirement helps in mitigating risks and enhancing the service quality provided to clients.


Engineers are often encouraged to show Continuing Professional Development has been undertaken to retain membership in professional bodies or institutions. Many engineering organisations actively support CPD to ensure that their teams are competent in using the latest technologies and methodologies, thereby maintaining operational safety and innovation.


Educators pursue CPD to keep their teaching methods and content knowledge up to date. Educational institutions and school systems support CPD to ensure high standards in the delivery of education, which directly impacts the quality of education students receive.

When a professional has completed either a training courses, webinar, educational event or other formal of learning, a CPD certificate of attendance provides confirmation that the training has been undertaken by an individual as part of their Continuing Professional Development requirements at their professional body or association.

A CPD certificate is important as it helps a professional body ensure that an individual has completed an appropriate level of further learning, and they are improving their capabilities in a structured, practical and relevant way for their role and industry.

CPD Employer Benefits and Recognition

Employers across these and other industries recognise the dual benefit of CPD in establishing a culture of continuous learning and improvement. This can lead to innovation, increased employee satisfaction, and higher levels of employee retention. Such a culture helps organisations stay competitive and enables them to adapt to changes and advancements in their respective fields.

Furthermore, CPD helps in complying with legal and regulatory requirements, ensuring that professionals are licensed and permitted to practise. CPD not only benefits the individual but also enhances the professional standards of the fields in which it is undertaken. By maintaining and advancing their knowledge and skills, professionals uphold the integrity of their profession.

This focus on Continuing Professional Development ensures that exacting standards are met consistently, which builds trust and confidence among clients and the public. Employers also recognise that supporting CPD can enhance their reputation as employers who invest in their workforce, thereby attracting better job applicants who seek environments that support professional growth and development.

International Recognition of CPD

Employers worldwide recognise the many benefits of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) for driving innovation and adapting to the rapid changes in today's globalised world. This is especially important in industries like healthcare, law, and finance, where practitioners must often meet rigorous standards. By embedding CPD into their core strategies, organisations not only stay competitive but also comply with internationally recognised standards and advancements.

This international approach to CPD ensures that it remains a priority for both professionals seeking to advance their careers, and for employers dedicated to maintaining excellence and competitiveness in their industries globally.

CPD establishes culture of continuous learning

The Benefits of CPD for Continuous Learning and Career Advancement

CPD offers numerous benefits not only to professionals but also to their employers. For individuals, CPD helps keep skills and knowledge up to date, enhances confidence, and maintains a professional advantage. Here are some key benefits of CPD for career advancement:

Purpose and Progression

CPD instils a sense of purpose in an individual's professional life. It is not only a response to the demands of one's job; rather, it offers a proactive approach to career development. Professionals engage in structured learning, setting clear objectives and goals which can help when formulating a plan for future improvement.

This sense of direction is crucial, as it imparts a sense of urgency and control over an individual’s career trajectory. With CPD, professionals are not waiting passively for opportunities; they are actively creating them.

Direction and Meaning

CPD acts as a compass, offering direction and imbuing daily tasks with more meaning and significance. In the fast-evolving professional world, having a clear path and purpose-driven actions through CPD not only facilitates personal and professional growth but also enhances job satisfaction.

When professionals see how their actions align with broader career goals, their work gains deeper meaning. This alignment helps mitigate feelings of aimlessness and helps foster a sense of accomplishment.

Personal and Professional Growth

Engaging in CPD allows professionals to stay current with the latest trends and technologies, ensuring they remain relevant and competitive in their field. It also provides them with tools to handle new challenges effectively, preparing them for higher responsibilities and potential promotions.

Through CPD, individuals can achieve a continuous improvement cycle, where learning leads to better performance, which in turn leads to further learning opportunities. This can also support the development of wider skills which in turn could facilitate possible career changes.

Enhanced Job Satisfaction

The proactive nature of CPD ensures that individuals are constantly learning and improving, which contributes significantly to job satisfaction. Professionals being up to date with their skills and seeing tangible improvements in their capabilities can boost morale and engagement at work.

Moreover, CPD's role in career advancement is often linked to increased individual recognition in their own abilities, which further enhances job satisfaction and commitment to one's profession.


Active engagement in Continuing Professional Development represents a professional's commitment to continuous improvement and learning. It is a key marker of professionalism that is recognised by employers and valued across industry sectors.

As both a supplement to formal qualifications and a significant component of career development, CPD helps maintain and elevate industry standards. It ensures that professionals are not just competent, but capable and proficient within their chosen fields.

Where to Find Suitable CPD Courses

If you are interested in undertaking CPD courses to boost your skills in your chosen career, please visit the CPD Courses Catalogue. Here you will find thousands of accredited training courses and events across industry sectors and learning types, which would be beneficial for fulfilling any wider personal and professional goals.

All the certified courses and training have been reviewed and recognised as meeting the required industry standards and benchmarks. To find out more about a particular CPD course listed on our website, you can complete an enquiry form and the details will be sent directly to the relevant CPD provider.

How to become an accredited CPD provider

We hope this article was helpful. Established in 1996, The CPD Certification Service is the world’s leading and largest CPD accreditation organisation working across all industry sectors. If you are looking to provide training courses, workshops, eLearning or educational events that may be suitable for Continuing Professional Development, please visit the Become a CPD Provider page or contact our team to discuss in more detail.

Alternatively, if you are looking for a free online CPD record tool to help manage, track and log your ongoing learning, as well as store your professional training records and attendance certificates in one simple place, go to the myCPD Portal page.

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