What is CPD | Why is CPD important? | 10 FAQ

What does CPD stand for?

CPD stands for Continuing Professional Development. It is sometimes a requirement of membership of a professional body, such as the General Medical Council, Royal College of Nursing or Royal Institute of British Architects. Where it is used as a system for keeping up to date with professional knowledge and skills.

What is CPD? 

CPD is a system that shows continuous learning and improvement is taking place. That is relevant to the profession, trade or organisation to which a person belong’s.

Continuing Professional Development began 100’s of years ago with medicine and the teaching of the Royal Medical Colleges. Peer-to-peer learning was viewed as essential to progress the latest medical developments and knowledge. The idea that you never stop learning was born.

During the industrial revolution more professional bodies, institutes, and societies were created. So that more professions or skilled trades were represented.

As knowledge and skills advanced these organisations often required their members to demonstrate or prove that they were up to date. Continuing Professional Development was born.

Why is CPD important? 

If you are an architect, nurse, doctor and many other professions it is vital that you maintain membership of your relevant organisation. For example the GMC for Doctors, RCN for Nurses or RIBA for architects. Many of these professional organisations insist upon CPD as part of their ongoing requirements of membership.

For instance the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) requires 35 hours of continuing professional development (CPD). This must be relevant to the scope of practice of a nurse or midwife over the three years prior to a membership revalidation date.


To maintain membership of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). A minimum of 35 hours of Continuing Professional Development per year is required.  The majority of subjects studied must be taken from the RIBA Core Curriculum and a member must gain at least 100 points.

Is CPD a recognised qualification in UK?

No, CPD is not a qualification in the UK or anywhere else in the world. Continuing Professional Development is not a single course, or a body of learning. It is a system of logging that you are keeping skills and knowledge up to date. In line with the requirements of your chosen profession or organisation.

You may also develop your own personal professional's career CPD plan but this is not a qualification.

What are CPD points?

Continuing Professional Development points are often awarded at the end of some body of learning or skill assessment. The awarding body can be yourself, your professional organisation or some other method.

Here’s an example from RIBA (Royal Institute British Architects) of how they award CPD points:

RIBA asks its members to assign from one to four learning points to each of their CPD activities after they have been carried out. 

One point – you learned little.

Two points – your knowledge has increased in a general way.

Three points – you have increased your knowledge of a subject in a more detailed way.

Four points – the activity significantly benefited you in terms of knowledge and skills and you are expert in the subject, having spent a considerable amount of structured time learning.

Any relevant activity can count as valid CPD and members are encouraged to get in the practice of assessing the personal and professional value for all learning activities.

Other organisations may award CPD points for attending seminars or conferences, some may award points for demonstrating a skill.

All Commodious Online Training courses have an associated CPD points award. This is based on the widely accepted 1 hour of assessed learning or training is 1 CPD point. So after completing the course you would add the points awarded to your personal CPD plan or inform your professional or trade association.

What does CPD mean? 

Continuing Professional Development refers to the process of tracking and documenting the skills, knowledge and experience that you gather as you work. It is simply a record of your experiences, learning and practical applications.

This will usually be a physical folder, data file or portfolio documenting your development of a professional's career. Usually points are awarded for the different skills, learning or experiences. The total points gained in a given period shows your progress in your chosen profession.

How to improve CPD?

This question is most often asked by people who have a personal CPD plan. Membership organisations will usually set the criteria for a CPD plan and to maintain membership you follow their plan.

To improve a personal CPD plan depends what you set out to achieve. If the goal was to get as many points as possible. Then taking a variety of online courses with associated CPD points may be a quick way to achieve this.

You may have decided to award yourself CPD points for successfully completing a task that required a new skill set. For example writing a business plan for yourself or your work department.

Improving your personal plan will usually depend on what you decide to include in it. What you decide is professional development as opposed to personal development. Learning to ride a bike may well be a personal development but would not usually be included in a Continuing Professional Development plan.

What is a CPD plan? 

A Continuing Professional Development plan is either set out by your professional membership organisation, such as the Royal College of Nursing, or you yourself. If it is set out for you then the question is answered but what about where the plan is your own.

A personal CPD plan recognises it is a personal responsibility to keep your knowledge and skills current. So that you can deliver a continuous high quality of service that safeguards the public, meets customer expectations and the requirements of your profession.

Think about how you will stay informed of changes in legislation,best practices and methods. Record every time you complete some relevant reading, learning or acquire a new relevant skill. Review on a regular basis to see where you are relative to your targets.

A good practice is to benchmark yourself with other similar professionals, compare your CPD plan with theirs and their performance. 

What is the purpose of CPD?

The importance of continuing professional development is to:

  1. Ensure your capabilities maintain the same standards of others in the same field.

  2. Ensure you maintain and enhance the knowledge and skills you need to deliver a professional service to your customers, clients and the community.

  3. Ensure that you and your knowledge stay relevant and up to date.

Can I do CPD online?

Yes, continuing professional development is actively encouraged by many organisations online. It may be a webinar, a virtual conference or more likely an online course. Any of these could be used to contribute to your CPD points total and professional development plan.

Commodious offer a wide range of online courses all with CPD points awarded. You can create your own specific learning bundles that may fit your personal plan. 

CPD and Commodious

Commodious is a member of the CPD Certification Scheme and offers a wide range of online courses all with CPD points awarded. You can create your own specific learning bundles that may fit your personal plan.