Why Continuing Professional Development Matters to Your Career

We all need to keep moving forward. That may mean advancing in the career you currently have, taking schooling and changing careers or moving across the country to take advantage of something entirely different. No matter what works for you in terms of growing and moving forward, you’ll want to ensure continuing professional development is part of your plan.

What is Professional Development?

Continuing professional development, or CPD as it’s sometimes known, is really a fancy term for ongoing education specific to your field. This can come in the shape of workshops, seminars or courses or less formal activities like networking events, or corporate meet-and-greets. Some CPD courses are even held online to make them more accessible.

Paid events, like professional development courses, are going to focus on the continuing education element and bring in speakers and educators who understand their audience is a group of busy professionals already in the field. More social events may not have a charge and may or may not have a formal speaker or educational program – both have value depending upon your needs. Generally, the more formal an activity the more likely it is to count towards CPD points.

What are CPD Points?

CPD points or CPD credits are a way of tracking the amount of CPD you’ve taken on. While some occupations don’t have mandatory CPD and don’t manage points or credits, others do whether it’s to be a member of a professional body or a requirement to practice in the field. For example, a person can be an HR professional without being a member of the Chartered Professionals in Human Resources (CPHR) British Columbia and Yukon, but membership allows the HR professionals increase the number of credentials that are beneficial. By attending events and advancing your HR education, you maintain that status. Other professions, such as Real Estate or Immigration do have a mandatory association. Thus, in order to be able to practice in the field, you need to be a member of the association (Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC) for immigration consultants) and continue to build your CPD points year over year.

For example, those with ICCRC certification need to meet the annual requirement of 16 hours of CPD through ICCRC. This is achieved by attending activities eligible and recognized for CPD hours. Through the ICCRC website, individuals can log in to report their hours as well as keep track of what events they have attended and how many hours they have accumulated to date. So, CPD points (or hours) are an essential part of maintaining certification with the ICCRC. This is similar to other organizations that require CPD points, credits or hours in order to maintain a designation, certification or ability to practice in the field.

Beyond the Mandatory Reasons, Why Bother with CPD?

Everyone needs a professional development plan or call them professional development goals if that sounds better to your inner ear. The point is, as noted in the first paragraph of this post, we all want to get ahead. This can mean a variety of things that might change from year to year or decade to decade – in fact, it’s guaranteed to change as you do. The point is, by developing a CPD plan you will be better able to move forward in your career – whatever that looks like to you.

Some of the benefits of being part of CPD events include:

– Interacting with similarly-minded people. Where else can you find a group of people in the same field and talk to them about their experiences and successes? Take advantage of a room full of information and education by attending a CPD event for social or educational reasons.
– Kick the fear of standing still. Again, it’s all about forward motion. It doesn’t have to be massive steps, and being a member of a CPD program or attending various professional or networking events will keep you open to new things and new opportunities to help with that continual growth. It may be a professional organization in your field or it might be something less specific like the local chamber of commerce.
– Get to know your industry better. Just like you, things in your field are constantly changing. You need to keep up and learn about what’s happening whether that’s changes to regulations, practices or standards. A professional organization is likely to be among the first places to find out the latest news in your industry while also ensuring you can access the information you need to stay abreast of it.
– Build your credentials. While having accreditation in a certain association or body is mandatory for some occupations, it still carries weight in terms of your standing in the field. The same is equally, or even more, true when it comes to a field that doesn’t have a mandatory association. You are proving your alignment to your industry, your willingness to continue to learn and advance and your commitment to your career.

How do I find CPD courses or figure out how many CPD points I need?

Learning about the CPD courses and the number of points (or hours) needed for your particular occupation’s designation will be found on the website of the certification body or association. In the case of house inspectors, BC Housing provides the licence to British Columbia-based inspectors and explains CPD requirements.

Do I have to pay for CPD?

Like your formal education, most CPD events are a pay-to-attend format. This is professional education offered in a variety of ways. Sometimes it’s a day-long workshop or a conference where the sessions are offered and attendance to either the overall event or the sessions themselves will come with a price tag. Due to the need to achieve CPD points in order to maintain licencing or certification, it’s a small price to pay and can (in almost all cases) be a write-off. The more social events are likely to be free or have a nominal charge to cover food or a speaker’s honourarium.

The world isn’t standing still and you don’t want to either. You want to get ahead in your career and keep moving ahead. Taking advantage of a formal CPD organization in your field or other events that enhance your education are one of the easiest ways to do so. Get out and get into your career!

Don’t forget to register for the next CPD seminar – Tools for your Toolbox: Advocacy, Ethics and Updates – offered by Ashton College in partnership with CAPIC on November 22, 2018 here.

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