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All About CPD Points

Continual professional development, or CPD, is an integral part of your career progression. It consists of a range of activities that you’ll go through as your grow and develop in your job. To track your progress, you will need to keep a record of your CPD points.

A common question is, “what are CPD points?”, which we’ll be addressing in this article for you. You’ll probably be required to keep a track of the CPD training you complete. Even if it’s not necessary, it will boost your CV and help you when negotiating a pay rise.

The importance of CPD is well recognised. In 2019, the UK government offered £1,000 each to nurses to invest in their ongoing training.

In this article, we’re going to be covering:

  • What CPD points are
  • How CPD hours and points relate to each other
  • Where you need to look for your points
  • The calculation that goes into CPD points
  • Ways to record your CPD
  • How many CPD points you need to complete.

Giving you the complete picture on your CPD points and how they work.

What are CPD points?

Taking training courses to learn more about your work is important. It’s not just the act of undertaking that’s valuable, you need to have a record of your CPD as well.

Depending on your job, you may be required to record your CPD points. This is a requirement for many professional bodies. For example, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors requires its members to collect 20 CPD points each year.

Knowing that CPD points are important is one thing, knowing what they actually are is vital. The points that you earn are a clear way to demonstrate the time you’ve invested in your professional training.

Your CPD points record:

  • Online training that’s been completed
  • Classroom courses you’ve been to
  • Seminars and webinars that have been attended.

Details of your training, including the points you accumulate, can be added to a portfolio. We’ll go through more on what your portfolio and CPD records can look like a little later.

Group of workers attending classroom based CPD training

Do CPD points equate to hours?

Different institutions will have slightly different language for your CPD points. You might hear or read them referred to as units or credits instead. Whichever words your employer or professional body might use, they mean the same thing.

One CPD point is equal to one hour of active learning. That means you get one point for every hour you spend on CPD activity.

To give you an example, say you attend a day’s training course about delivering first aid. The course runs from 10am to 5pm, plus an hour break for lunch. That training course would award you 9 CPD points.

When you complete online CPD courses, you’re not going to have a timer running to determine the time you spend and the CPD points you’re awarded. CPD points are calculated based on a number of factors – the details of which are coming up shortly.

How do I find the CPD points of a course?

Every course that’s accredited for CPD will have a number of points assigned to it. It’s going to be important for you to know how many points you get, particularly when you have targets to meet.

Each provider will work slightly differently, but in general you will be able to find the points earned per course with the course details. For whatever reason you can’t find the points for each course on the company website, get in touch with the provider.

Doing face-to-face or classroom training? You will be awarded CPD points based on the active time spent learning, and this will be confirmed before you start. Don’t assume the number of points you’ll get; there might be more or less break time than you expect and after-class assignments may also be included.

After you’ve completed your CPD training, you’ll be given a certificate to keep for your records. This document doesn’t show the number of points you’ve accumulated but there are other ways you can check:

  • Find the course on the website and note down the points it is worth
  • Contact us and we can issue a letter confirming the points earned if needed.

How are CPD points calculated?

It’s pretty easy to measure the number of active learning hours when you attend a seminar or classroom course. Even webinars and watching an online presentation video are measurable in terms of time.

How do you calculate CPD points for online courses? It’s a little trickier, because everyone completes the course at their own pace.

When a course is being written, it will be created with a target length in mind.

The length will be determined by things like:

  • The level of the course – you’ll usually find that higher level courses have more points since they can have more detailed content.
  • The course subject – some topics take longer to understand and require you to learn more things that are new to you.
  • How specialised the topic is – learning about industry specific subjects can take longer because there are detailed laws and regulations that need to be covered.

Training providers are required to assess the length of the course. From this, the points awarded from the CPD activity will be calculated. That’s not the end of the process – the certifying service will also check the course and its contents to confirm the points are correct.

Included in the calculation of CPD points for online training will generally be:

  • The time it should take to read and understand the course content
  • How long is spent watching videos or listening to a podcast
  • Time spent completing quizzes to check your understanding.
Woman working out how many CPD points she has gained for online CPD studying

Recording your CPD

The CPD points that you earn are valuable to you in a number of ways. Your main motivation for completing CPD activities might be because you enjoy broadening your horizons, but you can derive real benefits from your CPD.

Having a strong track record of CPD under your belt is good for:

  • Demonstrating your commitment to your work and your knowledge on your CV
  • Bolstering your case for a pay rise or promotion at work
  • Gaining admittance to and retaining membership of professional bodies
  • Admittance to academic or further education courses in your field.

How can you demonstrate your history of CPD to recruiters and employers? You need to start and maintain a CPD portfolio or logbook.

Aim to record your CPD training soon after each session. This will help you give a clear evaluation of what you’ve learned and be able to measure how you use the training over time.

It’ll also mean you don’t forget details like the CPD points you’ve earned. It’s not the end of the world if you do forget the exact name of your course or the points you’ve accumulated – you can always contact your training provider to confirm for you.

You have two options when finding a way to source your CPD portfolio. Which one you choose will depend on the resources you have and what will work best for your future records.

Hardcopy CPD portfolios

Most CPD providers will send you a hardcopy certificate of your CPD training. This may be a requirement of your employer and you may also get peace of mind with having something tangible in your hands.

Your CPD portfolio or logbook isn’t just about holding your certificates.

You should get into the habit of logging the details of the course. Information you should be noting includes:

  • What you expect to achieve from the CPD
  • Learning activities that you took part in
  • The actionable information you took away from the training
  • Your next steps after the CPD course is completed.

Be sure to record the number of CPD points you have earned from each activity. You can then easily calculate your CPD points for the year and see if you need more to meet employer or membership requirements.

Keep your paperwork in order with a wallet or file. You can pick up something simple and cheap from a stationery shop, or spend a few pounds more so you’ve got something that looks professional to present to your employer or future employer.

Electronic CPD portfolios

As a member of a professional association, you may get free access to an electronic CPD portfolio. Lots of organisations offer an online tracking facility for your CPD, such as the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy. You can also buy a membership to an ePortfolio system if you’re keen on online tracking.

Keeping a record of your CPD points and skills online makes things portable. You can easily send a link to a prospective employer and don’t have to consider keeping papers safe.

In the online portfolio you should be able to record everything that you would in your hardcopy version. There’s nothing stopping you from doing both.

How many CPD points do I need?

Not every industry or employer will require CPD. Whether it’s mandatory or not, earning CPD points throughout your career is always a positive thing.

Contact your professional body or regulator to check what your minimum CPD points for the year are. It’s possible that these requirements can change over time so it’s best to check.

Some employers and organisations stipulate how you can earn your CPD points for the year.

You might need to ensure that you achieve a mix of:

  • Online training
  • Practical or in-class assessments
  • Academic learning
  • Industry seminars.

Be sure to read the details and not just the headline figures!

Conclusion

What are CPD points? They’re a way of assigning value to the continual personal development that you undertake. Every CPD course that you take should come with a points value assigned.

The points for each course are calculated based on the time it should take to complete – one hour of learning is worth one CPD point. Employers and professional associations will have different needs for your CPD points so be sure you confirm what you need from them.

Keeping a record of your CPD in a logbook or portfolio will mean you don’t have to try to remember everything over the years. It’s a way of you tracking your own development and path towards achieving your goals – you will quickly be able to see how far you’ve come in your professional development.

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About the author

Joanne Rushton

Joanne Rushton

Joanne began her career in customer services in a UK bank before moving to South East Asia to discover the world. After time in Malaysia and Australia, she settled in Hanoi, Vietnam to become an English teacher. She's now a full-time writer covering, travel, education, and technology.



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