What are CPD points and can they accelerate your career?

Published On: September 13th, 20225.5 min readCategories: Career Advice

In today’s evolving world, professional development is essential, not only to advance your career goals but also to maintain the relevance of your current skill-set. Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programmes are one of the best ways to stay relevant, and competitive and have greater success in your career.

Think back to your professional situation a few years ago or the state of your profession when you first started working. No matter how much time has passed or what industry you work in, there’s a good chance that you’ve gone through significant change in your professional life, including in workplace cultures, systems, and technology. It’s no secret that change is constant!

If you want to find out how CPD points can help you accelerate your career and keep up with workplace change, you’ve come to the right place! In this article we’ll explore what CPD points are, how they work in South Africa and exactly what their career benefits are.


What are CPD points?

The acronym CPD stands for Continuing Professional Development. In its simplest form, it describes the method of keeping track of and recording training hours as well as the knowledge, expertise, and experience one gains outside of on-the-job training.

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is a programme designed to encourage members of professional bodies to develop their academic and professional skills. The main purpose is to encourage members to engage in lifelong learning. A professional body will record and monitor each member’s professional learning and development.

The professional body may recognise CPD achievements in points or hours. A member of the professional body may be required to obtain a certain number of CPD points or hours in a 2- or 3-year cycle. In the past, professionals had to travel to specific venues for training to collect their CPD points or hours. However, in recent years, online CPD courses have been allowed by professional bodies. For obvious reasons (i.e., cost and convenience), they have become a more popular choice.


What are professional bodies?

The South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) is in charge of professional body registration and professional designation registration. There are two types of professional bodies in South Africa: statutory and voluntary.

The practice of various occupations in South Africa is governed by statutory bodies, which are constituted by an Act of Parliament. The South African Nursing Council and the Health Professions Council of South Africa are two examples of such organisations.

Voluntary bodies create an enabling environment for professional development in a discipline and grow the maturity of that discipline by contributing to its body of knowledge, relevance, governing principles, and accessibility to new and existing practitioners. A professional body serves as the impartial, autonomous representative of its various stakeholders in matters related to the discipline.

Any professional body’s purpose is to: 

  • aid in the promotion and protection of the profession;
  • develop, administer, and govern policies related to the profession;

  • control professional practice;
  • control professional registration of persons;
  • set standards for the training of intended practitioners;
  • encourage and facilitate continuing professional development (CPD); and
  • encourage professional practice in the context of South African democracy, equity, and equality.

How do CPD points work in South Africa?

In South Africa, CPD points are awarded to individuals through membership with a professional body. There are also various CPD accredited courses available in South Africa. These courses are endorsed by the relevant body and on completion of the course, students are awarded CPD points, which can be claimed with the professional body through membership.

Within professional bodies, there are various levels of membership. The level of membership an applicant will qualify for is determined by their work experience in years as well as their highest level and type of qualification. Professional bodies also offer student membership.

Benefits of membership include:

  • Students/alumni belonging to a professional body contribute to their personal and career growth.
  • Students/alumni join a community of people that want to improve their professional life.
  • Students/alumni will have access to opportunities created by the professional body for members to network with each other and important people in their profession.
  • Students/alumni will gain access to exclusive resources.
  • If the student/alumni’s industry is highly impacted by legislation, then the professional body will keep them up-to-date on changes in legislation that impact their work environment. This may include communication in the form of a newsletter, workshops, and webinars.
  • Students/alumni will receive CPD points when they embark on professional development.

How can CPD courses benefit your career?

CPD points or hours benefit members of professional bodies in various ways, of which all contribute to career progression and success. Here is a useful summary of the career benefits that CPD points provide in South Africa:

  • Keep your knowledge of the discipline current and up to date
  • Improved skills and competencies within a current role
  • Can aid in salary or increase negotiations
  • Upgrades your professional credentials
  • Enhances your CV which can open favourable employment opportunities
  • Exposes you to new business opportunities
  • It demonstrates your professional standing and compliance with clients and employers
  • It shows your commitment to your profession and career

How do you know if a course is CPD accredited?

It is common practice for institutions to include CPD endorsements on their websites, which means that before enrolling for a course a student should be fully aware of if the course is endorsed or not. At iQ Academy, we encourage our students to make sure they fully understand the accreditation status of their course before enrolment. Even though the information is publicly available, it’s important to make sure you fully understand what you are getting into before you get started.

The following iQ Academy courses are endorsed by professional bodies and carry CPD points:

As you can see, the CPD endorsement is available on the course page (on our website), including the certificate of endorsement from the professional body.

In closing, CPD points are a powerful tool that professionals can use to keep their skills up-to-date in a way that is recognised, tracked and proves professional development. These benefits can all aid in career progression, salary negotiations and access to new opportunities. In addition, being a member of a professional body opens up many opportunities to network and learn.

Have questions about our CPD endorsed courses?

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