CPD Guidelines

What do you need to do?

The STEP CPD scheme requires you to take 4 steps:

  • Consider your professional role and list your key responsibilities
  • Decide where you need to undertake learning activities to maintain, develop or improve knowledge and skills
  • Select appropriate learning activities and undertake them
  • Evaluate and record how effective the activities were, considering their impact for you and your clients or employer.

NB: The STEP CPD Centre provides several resources to support members in carrying out the following steps, including ethics CPD content and some examples.

STEP 1: Consider your professional role – set your benchmark

If you have a job description, or can find a job description of a role you would like to have in future, the list of required skills should form your starting point. If you don't have a clear job description, you can list your key responsibilities and the skills that you need to carry them out.

Your initial list doesn't need to be detailed, but should include the skills that you feel are vital to meeting the expectations of your clients and/or your organisation. If you feel the list is too long, prioritise the top 5-7 skills and focus on those. If you carry out different CPD activities to those you had planned, in different areas, they can still be included in your record.

Members are encouraged to include responsibilities they would like to have as part of their career plans, thus linking CPD to both "competence to practice" and career. All members should also include "ethical behaviour" under their responsibilities.

STEP 2: Analyse your needs and set objectives

Reflect on your capability (skill or knowledge) in carrying out those responsibilities. This could be through self-analysis, using the CiZone tool on www.step.org/cpd, or discussion with a colleague. Decide where you feel you need to:

Improve or update existing knowledge and skills – this could be to address a weakness you feel you have or to upgrade your skill or knowledge. Or you may want to build on an existing base of knowledge to develop some expertise in a specialist area, for example.


Develop new knowledge or skills – you may need to develop some new capability to meet a newly acquired responsibility

Having assessed your development needs now set some development objectives.

The areas to consider are certainly technical knowledge and ethics, but also business, management/leadership and personal skills.

Members need to make a personal judgment on how much development they need to do using the benchmark established in step 1, remembering that it should be proportionate to their role and needs and should enable them, as a minimum, to meet the reasonable expectations of the client, whoever that might be.

STEP 3: Select and carry out activity

Decide the best way to meet the objectives (coaching, research, in-house update, conference update, course, qualification etc.) and select the activities.

Monitor the status of the chosen activities. Ask yourself – "are they meeting my needs?"

Include at least one activity related to ethics (online course, conference workshop, reading articles).

NB: STEP plans to provide a CPD recording tool in the CPD Centre by the end of 2014.

STEP 4: Evaluate, reflect and record

You should evaluate how effective the activities have been. Would you use that type of activity again or choose something different next time?

You should then reflect on the impact the learning has had, your own progress and any new needs arising and then link back to step 2.

You may want to reflect on learning that was unplanned too – for example, managing a crisis can provide an intensive learning experience.

Your thoughts on each activity should be included in your record, but members can choose the level of detail appropriate for their employer.

Recording hours

If your regulator, employer or another professional body requires you to manage your CPD in terms of hours, you should include that as a measure on your CPD forms (the planned online CPD recording tool will have a facility to add hours against the learning activity). The role benchmarking CPD scheme accommodates the use of hours as a measure and ensures the hours you spend are devoted to relevant learning activities.

STEP has chosen not to set a minimum number of hours that members must invest in "formal" or "structured" CPD, but the majority of balanced CPD plans will include a mix of learning activities.

Your CPD should ideally be a mix of formal (structured) and informal (unstructured) activities. The following definitions and examples may be useful.

Definitions and examples of Structured or Formal CPD

"Structured" or "formal" CPD involves validation of knowledge through discussion with others, or some form of assessment to test what you've learnt. The following activities are examples:

Attendance at STEP branch events

  • Attendance at conferences, seminars, webinars, workshops, discussion meetings or similar events involving active contributions, organised by any provider
  • In-house training sessions or technical updates
  • Mentoring and coaching other practitioners or potential practitioners
  • Preparation of lectures, webinars or other forms of presentation.
  • Writing books, articles or reviews for the benefit of others, whether for internal or external publications/ websites. This includes writing for the STEP Journal or other STEP publications

Definition and examples of Unstructured or Informal CPD

Any form of learning where there is no interaction with other individuals or assessment is classified as unstructured or informal CPD. This would include:

  • Use of learning media (online and offline) where it is undertaken on a personal basis, in isolation and without completing any form of assessment.
  • Informal, personal research which does not result in a report to clients, colleagues or any other possible audiences.
  • Reading textbooks, articles or other written materials that develop a practitioner's skills e.g. trade publications and industry news in any format. The STEP Journal and newsletters are included.

Accreditation of external CPD Providers

STEP does not currently accredit external events. The onus is on individual members to judge whether a particular event is relevant to their role and their professional development needs.

Conference providers normally self-assess on an hourly basis and members should ensure they have attended for the whole conference, if they have chosen to record hours and wish to claim the full number of CPD hours for the event.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the minimum number of hours/ number of structured hours required by STEP?

STEP has chosen not to set a minimum number of hours that members must invest in CPD. A member's compliance with the CPD policy will be assessed by comparing their role (set in step 1 of the benchmarking scheme), their identified training needs (step 2) and their records of activities that match or exceed

What if I'm on maternity leave/ long-term sick leave/ have been made redundant?

Whilst you are on leave, there is no requirement for you to undertake CPD activities. On your return to work, however, you and your employer need to ensure that you are ready to meet the reasonable expectations of clients.

To support your return to work, you might find the CPD resources, via the CPD Centre, the STEP Journal and regular newsletters helpful. All are free to STEP members, worldwide.

Does in-house training count?

Whether you deliver in-house training yourself, or attend in-house briefings, you can include these as CPD activities on your record. If you belong to other professional bodies that require you to measure the number of hours undertaken, you should check whether they count preparation time as well as the time taken to give a presentation.