Professional Development

The Society of Professional Engineers has an expectation that all individuals registered as Professional Engineers and those aspiring to become registered Professional Engineers will deliver their services in accordance with the Society’s Code of Professional Conduct.

This reinforces the need for individuals to be aware of and maintain their currency in respect of;

  • developments within society
  • legislative change
  • research and innovation
  • materials and products
  • new technologies
  • processes and procedures

all of which are to be integrated and applied in meeting the needs of their clients.

The Society recognises that individuals on their register are likely to be members of one or more Professional Bodies each of which will have specified requirements in relation to Professional Development. These may specify the terms CPD – Continuing Professional Development or Lifelong Learning and their expectations in terms of the time dedicated to this process.

The Society does not seek to replicate or duplicate these processes and believes that individuals achieving the professional expectations of those bodies will also meet the expectations of the Society in terms of “Professional Currency”.

The Society will, however, support the activities of affiliated and collaborating organisations in the promotion and delivery as appropriate to further the goals of the individual and society at large.


Information about professional development ranges from outline to comprehensive, some information is freely available to all, but some is restricted to members only. Information on professional development is quite scattered amongst and within the web sites of the varied organisations however there is significant overlap across and between professional organisations

Professional development can affect professional individuals fundamentally, throughout their working lives with potential benefits potentially to society, employers, clients, the professions, and to those individuals who participate. 

Professional Development may be seen as:

  • A motivator in the management and progressing of an individual’s career also enabling the industry to maintain proficiency and competitiveness with individuals more employable as professionals.
  • An opportunity to develop and refresh current capabilities and enhance an individual’s participation in the teams with which they work.
  • An opportunity to develop new skills appropriate to societal needs
  • A benefit provided by employers, who allocate time and funding to the individual
  • Support by professional organisations who offer guidance to their members.

Professional development appears to be strongly encouraged, and in some disciplines, is compulsory both internationally, and within Europe, continuing professional development seems to be encouraged and practised.

The quantity or time commitment varies significantly however the key is the quality of the development and as such each activity should be self-assessed and checked for relevance and the outcomes compared with the professional needs of the individual

Purpose of Professional Development

  • Maintenance of professional excellence or competence, including updating skills and knowledge
  • The requirement to possess excellence or competence (regarding skills & knowledge) to practise or work as a professional, competence being the very minimum acceptable
  • To reinforce the skills and knowledge gained by education at school or college that tend to decay & diminish with passing time.
  • Development of professional techniques that continually advance through developments in technology, law, and across society.
  • To counter any decline in professional excellence or competence
  • The enhancement of employability and potential career advancement
  • Currency of skills and knowledge, springing from education, training and experience
  • The hallmark of professional education and training is professional qualification, leading to registration with a recognised professional organisation, professional registration can be crucial to career success and fulfilment in life.
  • A professional must undertake appropriate self-management, systematic planning, achievement, evaluation, recording of professional development.
  • Professional development is best achieved through an evolving structured development action plan with a clear demonstration of commitment typically including a commitment to a multi-stepped process intended to be used several times during a professional career.

Periods covered by each development action plan may range from two months to two years (or much more), but ideally reviews should take place at least every six months focussing on

  • Achievements since the last development action plan review,
  • Actions agreed for the next development action plan review
  • An analysis of personal strengths and weaknesses, and ranking in terms of importance
  • An analyse of career opportunities and challenges
  • The identification of clear & realistic goals: short, medium, and long term
  • The identification of skills and competencies needed, including the development and the acquisition of new competencies
  • The extension and broadening of personal knowledge, understanding, & technical capabilities

The evaluation of the above should enable the professional to draw up a flexible, personal and career development plan identifying the resources required

Development opportunities include

  • In-house and external courses
  • Work-based learning, training, seminars
  • Learning, training, seminars outside work
  • Distance learning, correspondence courses
  • Open learning, broadcast and video courses
  • Self-directed private study
  • E-learning and web research
  • Educational courses
  • Additional academic qualifications
  • Pursuing doctoral studies or complementary degrees
  • Reading and reviewing books and journals
  • Writing for periodicals and the web
  • Preparation of learned papers
  • Preparation and delivery of talks, seminars, & lectures
  • Attendance at lectures, etc. on career and professional matters, & technology
  • Professional meetings and conferences
  • Learning through networking, discussion, and special interest groups
  • Sharing knowledge and skills by giving training, coaching, tutoring, mentoring
  • Experience, secondment, and participating in projects, new work

Professional development is a long-term commitment, and it is prudent to be realistic (indeed cautious) regarding the nature & amount that can be achieved & maintained throughout a professional career.

The Society of Professional Engineers will be planning activities and opportunities to support its members during the coming months to support both individual and organisational development