Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

What is CPD?

Let’s start by decoding the acronym. CPD is Continuing Professional Development and it’s how we make sure our skills and capabilities keep pace as our careers grow.

The key word is ‘continuing’. CPD shouldn’t be something we just pick up when we are wanting a promotion or applying for professional registration. It should be something that we do as part of our working lives.

Leading companies and managers recognize this and provide plenty of support for their employees, but ultimately it’s down to you.

The CPD Cycle

CPD is much more effective if you do it as part of a cycle – with some planning before and reflection afterwards.

There’s also an opportunity to use what you’ve learnt to help others.


To get the most out of CPD, it is worth considering what your ambitions are, the skills you have that will help you to deliver them and the additional development that might help to fill any gaps. This is done at a fairly high level and might involve the creation of a Development Plan that is reviewed periodically.


The best development happens when it is planned in advance. It’s a good idea to set some quite specific goals of things you want to cover, with target dates for completion and some thoughts around what the criteria are for knowing you have successfully met them. These can always be reviewed if your needs or circumstances change – you are in control!


Of course, in order to develop we need to undertake some activities. Try to get a good range of learning types, including more formal learning and on the job opportunities. Don’t forget any development that might happen outside of work too!


It’s good to make sure that you record any learning you do as soon as possible after it has occurred. Try to capture specifics – date, location and exactly what you did as well as what you personally learnt from the activity.


This is an important part of CPD that many people miss. To get the most out of a development opportunity it’s worth taking some time to think about what you’ve learnt, how you might use it and how well the activity meets your original development needs. Don’t be afraid to record where something wasn’t successful or worked only partially.  Go back to your original plan and goals and make any changes that are needed – in that way you’ll be sure to make progress!


Development isn’t all about the individual – it’s good practice to think about how others can benefit from your learning too. It may be as simple as using new skills to perform better in your role, improving the service your customers (and colleagues) receive, or it could be about more directly sharing your newly gained knowledge with others; perhaps by disseminating the contents of a conference with others in your workplace who couldn’t attend.

Top tips

If you are just getting started or finding yourself struggling with your current CPD, Matt Bower, Operations Team Leader at DWQR for Scotland and Institute of Water CPD Champion has some top tips to help with your approach to CPD.


Useful guides and documents

CPD Cycle
It is advised that CPD is seen as a cycle and we have developed this handy guide to help you.

CPD Guidance: Early, Mid and Later Career
We don’t just do CPD at the start of our careers so we have developed some guidance to help you with your approach to CPD depending on what stage you are:

CPD Code
The Institute of Water is committed to ensuring that its members are actively involved in CPD and assisting them in this.  Our CPD Code sets out our commitment and expectations of members.

Institute of Water Online CPD Portal

Institute of Water members can record their Continuing Professional Development (CPD) online using our exclusive online CPD portal. Simply log in to your online membership portal and select ‘My CPD’.

This unique feature allows members to:

  • Set and prioritise CPD goals online
  • Add activities for each goal, including notes and attachments
  • Complete evaluations for each activity, reflecting on learning outcomes
  • Print or save your CPD record in a read friendly format


We recommend the portal as the best way of recording CPD and making sure that you include all the necessary elements, but we recognise that some members prefer to use other methods. Your employer may specify how you record CPD, but as an alternative, this spreadsheet has been designed to include all the elements we expect to see in member’s CPD records.