21 February 2017

CPD or Continuing Professional Development refers to the process of tracking and reflecting on the skills, knowledge and experience that you gain both formally and informally as you work, beyond any initial training. It's a record of what you experience, learn and then apply.

Keeping track of CPD will generally involve setting up a (physical or digital) folder to serve as a learning log and portfolio documenting your development as a professional. Such a log is not a formal training or development plan in itself but can be usefully fed into the creation of such a plan and can be helpful in identifying training needs and development objectives.

The characteristics of CPD

Training and development both form part of the CPD process. Though the words are often used almost interchangeably, training is typically more formal and involves learning to do something particular requiring certain skill and competence. Training might involved learning how to format a document in Microsoft Word or how to drive a car. Development is generally informal and broader in scope - equipping the learner with the tools he or she needs to do things relating to a capable and competent level. Learning will progress from the basics through to advanced expertise. Development can also be about honing and taking on new transferrable skills like project management or managing teams.

To get the most from CPD it should be a documented and self-driven process, that involves experience, reflection and review. It will likely include formal and informal learning and help you set broader development goals and objectives.

What are the key benefits of CPD?

As with any process, when it comes to CPD, the more time, energy and effort you put in then the more you are likely to get from it. By keeping a log you'll get an at-a-glance guide of your professional development to date and be able to see just how far you've come! By documenting your achievements you can start to direct your career - filling gaps in skills and capabilities and focussing new efforts on the areas of most benefit. Taking CPD seriously shows both future and potential employers that you're highly engaged in your areas of expertise and serves as an excellent example of your professional standing. When it comes to that next step on the career ladder or even a career change your CPD can really help show how much you can bring to a new role.

Do I need to undertake CPD?

Many professional bodies make CPD a requirement of membership including the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). Chartered members must undertake 35 hours of CPD (and 20 of these hours must cover topics in the RIBA CPD Core Curriculum). You can find out more about these requirements on the Architecture.com website.

the process of tracking and reflecting on the skills, knowledge and experience that you gain both formally and informally as you work

What counts as CPD?

How you structure and carry out your CPD is up to you. It can range from reading to undertaking formal training to gain additional qualifications. The CPD you carry out should  be beneficial: planned, managed, and carried out in the right way. CPD can help you take charge of your learning needs and your career trajectory.

When thinking about CPD you should consider your personal and professional circumstances to determine how much detail you need on any given subject and to what level you need to be proficienct. Your broader career aspirations and, as ever, time and money you can afford to spend will also play a part.

Where can I find CPD?

The Royal Insitute of British Architects provide a range of useful CPD resources. You can find more details about CPD resources on the Architecture.com website.

The RIBA CPD Providers Network is an industry force of over 550 organisations that provide free CPD.

Find out more about the RIBA CPD Providers Network

The Core CPD Seminar programme consists of ten 2.5hour seminars - one on each of the ten core CPD topics - held at venues across England.

Find out more about the RIBA Core Seminar Programme

The RIBA CPD Extras programme augments the seminar programme with locally designed training programmes which respond to key issues in architecture and the construction industry.

Find out more about the RIBA CPD Extras programme

Architects take their learning seriously and make time for it, despite the time and budget pressures they face. A recent RIBA Insight survey found that they see structured CPD, like seminars and courses, as being important and particularly value face-to-face contact. The ability to discuss CPD topics with presenters and contemporaries is particularly valued and that dynamic can’t be easily replicated online. It’s easy to see how younger, less experienced architects value being in that environment with other, more experienced professionals.

RIBA's CPD Roadshows offer a unique opportunity to enhance personal proficiency and gain knowledge in a wide range of subjects, and earn double CPD points.

Find out more about RIBA CPD Roadshows

The institute also offers a series of advanced CPD courses, reading material from RIBA Journal, RIBA Bookshops and RIBA publishing, and a range of online courses on RIBA CPD.com, video content on theNBS.com and YouTube and Vimeo channels.

Where do I begin when it comes to CPD?

Start to keep a learning log and jot down notes to help you record experiences, making reflection and planning easier down the line. In getting started consider your current situation. What learning experiences can you recall over the last few months? Think about learning from colleagues or your professional network, any coaching or mentoring you have received or how you coped with taking on new tasks and responsibilities.

1. Start keeping a learning log and portfolio

Keep a learning log and record your thoughts in whatever way suits you best. You may find it helpful to write things down in detail, for example, or to make notes on insights and learning points. The process of writing makes you think about your experiences at the time, and makes planning and reflection much easier. You can't review your experiences without recording them, however good your memory is. Next start to think about how each experience has made a difference to you, your colleagues, your clients or your employer.

2. Think about your goals

Write down your overall career goals - where you want to be in the short, medium and long term. Then write down a few shorter term objectives, including the dates by which you want to achieve them. Make these SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound).

3. Determine how you will achieve your goals

Looking at your overall career goals, make a note of what you need to do to achieve them. This could include training, job or role progression or changes in direction. For shorter term objectives, include the first step - what you can do in the here and now. Perhaps finding out about new technology from a colleague who has experience or shadowing another member of staff to pick up a particular skill?

4. Regularly review and update

An essential part of the process. Be sure to diarise a review of your self-set objectives, perhaps every three, six or 12 months, to ensure your cycle of continuing professional development is maintained.